Several months ago while I was in my study at church a dove landed on the sidewalk just outside my office. I like doves so I got up from my desk and went to the window and spent some time enjoying the bird. The next day the dove showed up again. This went on for the better part of a week - everyday. Towards the end of the week I finally asked the Lord, "Is there something here You are trying to say to me?" In an instant I heard the Lord speak to my heart, "Invite My peace into the church." There were no issues going on in the church. No problems. In fact, it was a great season of God's presence in our body - but in simple obedience I said, "Lord, I invite Your peace into this church." I felt that my simple prayer was a deposit for the future.
The next week I was driving to the church as scheduled on a particular day each week that the Lord has me arrive very early to be alone with Him. The staff honors this time for me so no one shows up. I have the sanctuary and facility all to myself. I can walk around and pray loudly. I can lay down before the Lord. I can do all kinds of things with just me and the Lord. I am usually at the church by 4:30 a.m. There is never a need to set the alarm for this day of the week because the Lord wakes me up. I think He loves this time with me also and He nudges me awake to be with Him.
On this particular morning as I arrived at the church and began to turn into the dark driveway - the sun was still an hour away. There it was - a dove nesting on the parking lot. I slammed on the brakes and just looked at the dove. Doves don't nest in parking lots like this in the middle of the night. This dove was not standing on it's legs. It had nestled down and had made itself comfortable waiting for me. This is unusual for a dove, or any bird for that matter, as the trees are the only place predators can't get at them during the night.
As the dove and I sat in our respective spots and stared at each other the Lord spoke again, "I am bringing My peace into the dark and fearful places in peoples lives." As soon as I heard those words the dove flew away. What was very interesting for me was that I was coming into the office that morning to finalized a message on the peace of God in the dark places of our lives.
I had doves on my mind by now. As I kid I grew up in Central California where there were lots of dove. Now those creatures were being used by God as His props through which He was speaking to me.
A week after the dove in the parking lot incident I came to church as I normally do with the sun up and life as normal. The pastors were meeting this morning for prayer so we all get there an hour before we open the doors for business. As I turned onto the street where the church is located I could hardly imagine what I was seeing. Just above the driveway entrance to the parking lot were 10 dove all bunched together on a telephone wire immediately above me. I actually stopped and counted them - ten in all.
After I parked the car and got out the 10 dove had flown away. When I was settled in my office I couldn't get this last group of dove out of my mind. I pulled out a reference book and checked into what "ten dove" might mean. I knew dove were a symbol of peace, but I sensed there was more with this incident. As I researched the dove I felt directed to look at biblical numerology and found that the number ten is a number that means "testimony." In that moment the Lord spoke and said, "I am going to give you something to testify about!"
I love it when I sense the Holy Spirit is speaking to me. A new faith arose within me in the anticipation that God was bringing Living Waters something to testify about. Then I realized that this exact month was the 10th year of my ministry in Medford.
I haven't see many dove since those three appearances, but I have processed those events and the Lord's instructions to me. Several things began to become clear.
I was in a season when I was more sensitive to God than normal. In that season I was open to Him speaking to me. As a result I didn't dismiss natural things, like doves, as having nothing to say to me. After all, God created these animals and He could use them to get my attention.
The dove were not the issue - the word of the Lord that followed the dove appearing was the thing God wanted me to grasp. As beautiful as dove are the word of the Lord is magnificent and wonderful beyond imagination. His word, not what He uses to get our attention, is the main thing.
I never want to get so busy doing the ministry that I become numb to the voice of God trying to speak to me. I want to cultivate a sensitivity to the world around me. I have started to look more intently at what is taking place around me. God is always trying to get our attention. He loves to use what He created to get our attention so He can encourage us in each season of our lives.
As a funny side note, just last week I was driving in my car heading to an appointment when all of a sudden a dove flew out of the sky and flew right next to my window. I must have been doing 35 m.p.h. in traffic. The dove paced himself with my car for a moment - a moment long enough for me to be reminded that God had spoken those previous words to me about peace. Once I realized that the dove flew away. God didn't want me to forget.
Look around at your life and realize that God is wanting to get your attention so He can speak to you. His words might be just behind some natural things that are taking place in your world. Take a moment right now and look up. He might have something trying to get your attention so He can tell you how much He loves you. Living in the anticipation of God speaking to us changes everything.