Can you believe that through all my involvement in our House of Prayer (a location which exists only to stand as an altar of worship like Jacob found in Bethel in Genesis and join that with prayer that echoes the heart of God in order to speedily enact His loving ways on the earth)...the image that still comes to mind when I envisage an intercessor is an older woman with a lot of time on her hands who can pray for a long time? Wow.
The point being, I still only associate intercession with the singular trait of prayer. When, as I well know, the fuller definition is found in Ezekiel 22:30 when God shares His heart and says:
"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none."
I've known this. Or at least, I've been aware of this for years. My father had this scripture on his wall since I was young. Its a memorable passage because its a provoking passage. Its heartbreaking. In just a few words, we hear God's very own hope for redemption being crushed by the neglect of men.
And it seems easy enough, too, right? Just "build a wall" and "stand" in between God and the fallenness in the land that is separating Him from us, the ones He wants to be near.
So we proceed to try and fulfill this scripture and then find we're missing a critical element. There's the matter of receiving the burdens of God's heart. Without it, we won't stay in the gap on behalf of fallen people with their rotten choices, and as a result, their cursed land. We realize that in order to fulfill God's simple desire to restore and not punish, we have to feel in our very breath and bones WHY He doesn't want to destroy them. The 'why' is what makes us stay in the uncomfortable inbetween place - one foot in the best of heaven and one foot in the worst of earth.
To me, that sounds like the life of Jesus. He volunteered to walk on the earth in the frail frame of men. He built up a wall that gave clear distinction between False Life and True Life; walked 33 years in the uncomfortable gap between heaven and earth; then gave the ultimate worship to his Father by dying on the cross so the entire future of mankind could be spared. And now, he is in heaven at the right hand of the Father and is called the Great Intercessor where he continues to make intercession for us now having purchased through his life on earth the proper footing to stand in our defense.
SO WHY DID MY VAN GET STOLEN?!?!
....is at least what I want to ask.
I'm walking out the door, in a rush, on my way to meet John at the House of Prayer. I have my bags and children in tow as well as an additional bag of their activities. Our special service for the evening doesn't offer childcare, but we're all bringing our children anyway because these sessions are so compelling.
The chaos of one mommy getting children out the door is in full swing and as I turn from locking the front door to the street (where we park our car)....I don't see it. I don't see the van.
*heart drops* no no no no.
I called John to confirm which van he drove in as if it mattered since neither of our two cars are parked on our street. The call is just...*sigh*...me avoiding the truth that our van has been stolen.
Our nice van. Our just-paid-our-tax-money-to-buy van. Our every-time-we-get-in-we-thank-God-for-such-a-nice-van van. Our only-car-with-air-conditioning van. I mean, I was just unloading our sleeping children from that van last night.
Well, back to earth, the children need to be managed. They were planning on getting in a car, too. So the activity bag is put to use with a short "never mind, guys, we're gonna be here for a bit" from mommy. As they play on the porch, I move to the more pressing matters that need my attention.
I struggled, and I mean knock-down-drag-out brawled, against screaming emotions that would feel soothing yet accomplish nothing. I was alone with this problem and the only one who could respond to it properly. Sure, there were several phone calls to John to tell me what to do but I was on the scene and had to be a big girl. I went back and forth. It was a lot like having the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other!
Big, cleansing breaths.
I stepped inside the house for a minute of solitude and cried. I knew the choices I made in these first moments were the most critical to my spirit and soul. I turned my face to God and told Him (and myself) that He is good. There is no meanness or spite found in Him. That He is king of everything created and I am His child. That I know He didn't take my van nor did He want the van to be taken. When we bought the van we gave it to Him and thanked Him for the chance to steward such a nice van.
"And now, King of Creation, don't let Your enemies prevail against You and Your property. Release the desires of Your heart to restore what has been stolen from You."
It hit me then that I was hurt. My feelings were hurt. I was giving my time, my life, my energy....my everything to be in the House of Prayer for this city - the same could be said for my whole family. I had asked for God to show me His own heart and feelings for this city so I could pray effectively and stand with Him. And as I opened up my heart to feel and understand a little more of what He loves about this place and these people, I found myself falling in love with Her. And now this is how She repays me.
I could feel more acutely the pain of Hosea (read that book in one go - its beautiful redemption!). Or how personal it must have felt to Jesus who never rejected anyone he ever encountered - who held the secrets to the freedom of the universe - and yet no one seemed to see him for who he really was and he was met with rejection over and over.
They invested themselves in lives of intercession, not just the act of intercession, but because of love. Real love. Not conceptual love or the idea of love, but felt love.
That's when it hit me. One foot in the best of heaven and one foot in the worst of earth.
Congratulations, you've started living a life of intercession.
Ouch. But I'm still in.