Behind the Pillar

(I dedicate this to those who are willing to change the song transparencies--or man the projector in the sound room--during praise and worship services. You are among the people I most appreciate because by doing this you free the rest of us to focus on worshiping in spirit and truth.)


Several years ago I was with two close friends providing "ministry" to a womenís group in New Hampshire. The three of us were timidly venturing out onto that limb where the Spirit is the one leading. (In reality, of course, where the Spirit is leading is the broadest and safest of places! It just takes some experience for us humans to realize that.) We really wanted the time to be a blessing for the women and we knew the best way for that to happen was for the Holy Spirit to be in charge. Therefore, on the drive north we agreed to not completely plan the evening in advance. We had some idea of the parts God had given us--one of us had a teaching from the Word and another had music, for example--but we put all of these into Godís hands and asked Him to guide us.

Let me just say that the evening was unique. One of my friends ended up ministering to people in prayer in the lobby for most of the meeting time. My extensively prepared teaching went un-taught. Instead I shared my testimony and then found myself changing transparencies for my other friend who led worship. When the evening ended we had very mixed feelings about how it had gone. Had we followed the Spirit or missed Him? We just werenít sure.

I did know that God had given me a message while I was changing the transparencies. After I had placed each new song on the overhead I would stand behind a pillar so I would be out of the way and the women could see the projected lyrics. I sensed that God was saying to me that that was where He wanted me to stand spiritually--behind the pillar. I thought His point was for me to be humble and willing to stay in the background.

I never forgot this impression but it was several years later when God finished His thought for me. One day I was reading through Exodus and came to chapter 13:21-22: "By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give the light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people." By standing behind the pillar, then, I am standing behind the Holy Spirit! When Iím standing behind Him, Jesus, not me, is the One people will see. And when Iím standing behind Him, He will be the one leading me.

It is good to look back on that night and have the assurance that the Holy Spirit was our pillar and was leading us. We asked Him to and He did. Iíve noticed people in ministry really need to believe this. Feelings, thoughts, appearances and even people will all deceive us into thinking we failed; but if the Holy Spirit was leading us, we didnít. His good work was being accomplished no matter what it looked like or felt like to us or to others.