My weekends are important times for me. This is the time each week the church gathers and when I teach. I take it seriously. I always want to be fresh for Sunday morning so I can give my best to God and his people. As the weekend rolls around I try to un-clutter my schedule so that Saturday night I get to bed early to be well rested for Sunday morning.
On one particular Saturday morning, I became wide-awake at 3:30 a.m. I thought this was not good. I tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to awaken Jan with my rustling in bed, so I quietly got up.
Instead of making the noise required to start the coffee maker, I decided to get in our car and head out to a donut shop I knew that opened at 4:00 a.m. I don’t normally eat donuts, but on this particular morning my palate called for one.
Arriving at the donut shop, I went through the drive-through and picked up an apple fritter and a large coffee. I drove around to the parking lot of the donut shop and turned on the radio and had my breakfast as I sat in the darkness. When I finished the coffee and fritter I actually felt pretty good – not tired or groggy. Then I drove home.
On Sunday I wasn’t tired at church even though my normal routine had been disturbed. I had a great workweek and life went on as normal.
The next Saturday morning the same thing happened. I became wide-awake, again, way too early to just lay in bed. I knew what to do this time and headed for the donut shop. When I was done I thought I would drive to the church since it was close by.
When I arrived at the church is was about 4:30 a.m. I entered the back door that leads into the sanctuary and immediately sensed that hush you experience in a forest when all man-made noise is absent. I stood there and began to soak in the abiding presence of God that accompanies a structure that week after week is dedicated to God and where sounds of worship and praise have filled the air for years. It was like I was being bathed in warm oil. I prayed and asked God to bless the coming Sunday service and then I drove home.
The next Saturday I was awakened again and then began to realize God was waking me from my sleep. No alarm clock – just the Lord wanting time with one of his sons. At this writing this has been going on every Saturday morning for the last thirteen years. I set no alarm and he faithfully awakens me each week. I now spend close to three hours with God each Saturday morning. I look forward to this time each week. I minister to him and he ministers to me as the city sleeps.
One of the things I do each week is to stand before an empty sanctuary and talk out loud with God about the Sunday message I will preach the next day. I go over my sermon notes and let God make any adjustments he desires. I also bring the ingredients for breakfast and we eat together.
On Saturday mornings I walk through the sanctuary and lay hands on each chair and pray for each person who will attend our worship services the next day. I declare hope and destiny over the church. I confront dark spirits. I do the work of a priest of God.
For all the years I have done this I have told my staff the church facility is off-limits for those several hours. They have scheduled church life around my weekly time with God. The church also knows about this special time and honors my weekly appointment with God.
This protected and reserved time has allowed me to function in complete freedom with God. There was a time God had me jog throughout our facility shouting prayers. Another time I lay prostrate on the platform and moaned his heart for his people. Once a 20 foot tall ladder was left in the sanctuary by the facilities team who were in the process of adjusting the platform lighting. God has me climb all the way to the top of the ladder and prophetically declare his heart over his people. Being alone with God has allowed me a new level of the freedom and intimacy.
What I have come to realize about life and ministry is God wants time alone with us. He is so passionate about this that he will awaken us from our normal patterns of life and carve out time normally given to sleep and work and say, “Come and be with me.” If we will walk with him into these times we will enter those places where we will experience the quiet hush of his presence. Those times will become one of the highlights of our week.