Chicago HUB, the Ministry Group that I attend. HUB stands for His United Body and this group is really a picture of that unity. The days (and evenings and nights) were filled (and I mean filled) with top notch, well known speakers. There was actually more than one worship team and the worship was just amazing at every session. The prayer and intercession times, led by a really neat guy who is a part of HUB, were incredible. It was truly an international event with people from all over the world in attendance. The nations came to Chicago and then together, we turned our focus to Jesus and His promises!
The Conference Center where this event was held, is an amazing place. The design is actually a Frank Lloyd Wright design. There are all of the typical marks of his architecture including lots of angles and water! This waterfall is in the center of the conference center. When I had a few minutes to spare, I would stand and listen to this waterfall - either from the second story or from the downstairs area. I have blogged before about my draw to flowing water of any kind, and this waterfall certainly works for me! On the third day of the event, I was standing overlooking this waterfall, in line to enter the meeting. A man standing in front of me pointed out that there was one fish swimming in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall. I had never noticed that fish before! We chatted about how interesting it was that there was only one fish and also about the obvious repairs that have been made to the waterfall. It is pretty clear that there is some damage to the base of this structure and it looks like they are trying to keep the whole thing from falling down!
After getting home very late last night, I have felt a bit "foggy" today. In honesty, the conference is still going on! But I was just so tired that I knew that I needed to be at home today, resting and taking in all that I had heard over the previous days. As I sat down to write this blog, the first thing that came into my mind was that waterfall. And that one lonely fish. Considering everything I had seen and heard and experienced this seemed really interesting to me! Why the waterfall and why that fish?
Well, I have often felt like that one lonely fish, swimming around in pool, all by myself. I would think, "Wow! This is such a great place and all the things around me are so amazing! Where is everyone else?" But this conference was very different for me. I was surrounded by my "tribe". Several of my small group friends were also at this conference. So I certainly was not feeling like that lonely fish, was I? Well, have you ever heard that you can be really lonely even if you are surrounded by a large crowd of people? Even people that you know well? Yes, I guess I was feeling a bit like that fish. And I am sure that there were other people who also were feeling sort of alone. Suddenly I understood what this feeling was all about. I was remembering.
The speaker last night was someone that I had heard many, many times in the 1990's, Dr. Rodney Howard-Browne. If you take a moment and click on that link with his name, and read about his ministry, you will be amazed. The man is on a mission to change the world and he is succeeding. In those early years of his ministry, before 2002, he was known for the laughter and other signs and wonders that followed him. In 2002 the direction of his ministry shifted to winning souls and he shared last night that he believes that his ministry has won over 10,000,000 souls for Jesus. Yes that is 10 MILLION! All of those amazing signs and wonders still follow this man's message. As a matter of fact, they have INCREASED! He actually said that he has not been back to Chicago for 20 years! After last night he indicated that he just might come and do a 30 day crusade here! That would be amazing.
Anytime that he would be at an event, during those long ago days, there would be a flurry of activity to plan lots of car pools so that we could all attend. We would trade off driving since the events where usually held quite a distance from us. I recall that the drives back and forth and the fellowship in the cars was a wonderful part of the experience. But 20 years is a long time. As I sat there last night, listening to his message, I felt sad that I was not sitting with any of those people from the past. We have all seemed to go our different ways. I was thankful for my new "tribe" - my wonderful friends that surround me and pray for me. But I was missing those old friends. It's funny how a shared experience stays with you for so long. Here I was, experiencing this great man, once again. But there was no one to remember those long ago meetings. No one to share those memories.
But in all of that, one of the BIGGEST messages of the entire conference was to leave the PAST in the PAST! To move on and take those steps into those new places and into new experiences. Several of the speakers talked of that river of living water that is FLOWING out of our belly. A river that never stays in one place, that moves and flows and grows as it flows. The message was to do something with everything we have heard. To go and to share and to love the world.
Yes, I can see now what Jesus has been saying to me tonight. It is a reminder to keep looking up and moving on. Something that so many of us seem to forget from time to time. Me included. That lone fish had a message for me. Stop looking down at the pool and look up! Notice the ever flowing water. I needed to see this man of God, to hear his story, to understand how Jesus moves us all along the path and even changes our direction. But when we find ourselves flowing into new and strange places, away from people we have been so close to, we need to be reminded that we are not alone! Jesus is with us and there will be new people coming along side of us to share this part of our journey. We need to just keep on flowing.....
It has been a very full few days. I have pages and pages of notes to pour over and digest and chew on. But I am so thankful that there are reminders of all that Jesus has done. I am sure that Jesus will be there with you wherever you are along that path. Just keep looking up at Jesus and take that first step. And I am talking to myself tonight!
Jesus, thank you for these times out of our normal routines. We need the interruptions of daily life so that we can remember what is really important. It is all about you. Its all about that flowing, living water of the Holy Spirit. Help us all to absorb what you are saying tonight. Speak it deep into our hearts today. Amen