Last night, Beth and I decided to attend Northland Church again (for the second week in a row). I'm really glad that we did. It was inspiring to say the least.
At the beginning of his sermon, Joel Hunter (the senior pastor), ascended the stage and revealed that it had been a very difficult week. His granddaughter has been in hospital due to brain cancer. He was noticeably shaken as he related the story to the congregation.
Two things really struck me about what he said.
He began by telling us that he's been praying for his church all week because of the situation. "Although our family is under a lot of stress," he said, "we're confident that our God is a God who heals. He may wish to heal her physically here on earth, or he may choose to heal her completely by bringing her into His presence. But either way, we're confident that God will do what's best for our family."
If that weren't enough, he continued...
"Our family is under stress, but we are not shaken. But that doesn't mean that everyone who goes through something like this isn't. In fact, I know that Satan would like nothing better than to use something like what's going on in my family to shake you to the core and cause you to question God's goodness and mercy. And so I've been praying for you this week. I've been praying that your faith will be strengthened whether you're dealing with your own personal pain or if you're seeing pain in the life of a friend or a pastor."
And that's about when the tears began to creep into the corners of my eyes and my throat got that feeling... you know, the one where you're on the verge of sobbing.
Why was I suddenly about to burst out crying?
Well, I was in the presence of a man who is so in tune with the church he shepherds, that even his own very personal pain is a cause to pray for and encourage his flock. Instead of being more self-focused, he became more other-focused.
That said, I think we've decided to put some roots down at Northland. Mainly because we both want to learn from a man like that. And, honestly, I want to be like that, too.
Nathan Key likes to think about faith and philosophy and talk about it with others. He lives with his family in New Hampshire. He doesn't always refer to himself in the third person.