A Story Shared By
Lead Pastor Rob McDowell
February is Black History Month, and as followers of Jesus, it is a chance to celebrate the creative brilliance of the God who “made from one man every nation of mankind” (Acts 17:26) and the redemptive beauty of his Son who, with his own blood, “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
Over the past several years, the Lord, in His kindness, has continued to diversify our church family. And with it, a growing awareness of our role in the need for transparent conversations that lead to healing. We have become better because of it. And so it is with joy, respect, and celebration that we welcome Black History Month.
We commemorate this much needed season in which we remember, honor, and understand more fully the numerous African-American saints the Lord has used throughout our history to shepherd His people and bring honor to His name. As my studies this past year have caused me to journey deeper into the area of spiritual disciplines, I would like to highlight one of the saints that have helped me in this endeavor.
Dr. James Melvin Washington, who was a professor of church history at Union Theological Seminary and adjunct professor of religion at Columbia University, wrote a very compelling book titled Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayer by African Americans. In it, he reflects on the significance of spending quantitative as well as qualitative time with God. Both aspects of being in God’s presence are necessary and valuable for an intimate relationship with him. While it is wise and beneficial for us to carve out extensive time alone to be in God’s word, it is also a glorious event to be in the moment with Him, just appreciating a conscious, fresh breath of His presence. Dr. Washington refers to it as a “selah” moment. A pause to praise. A time to stop and be with your Creator, your Savior, your God. How precious it is to rest in His presence, rest in his arms, rest in him. Just being. No doing.
Dr. Washington was very much aware of how busy schedules sap spiritual intimacy, and he encouraged men and women of God to be intentional about preserving sacred times. He writes: “Far too often, many of us do not miss you. We yearn to feel your presence. But do not comprehend the nature of absence which we often call emptiness. We have been absent from you for so long that we either never knew, or have forgotten, that the soul must be nurtured and nourished. Spiritual malnutrition besets us. We have become servants of instant gratification that is devoid of both thought and purpose. We are hurriers with narcissistic agendas.”
So as we walk into this second month of 2023, let us allow our faithful brother to encourage and inspire us to keep the urgent things in our lives from crowding out the important things. May we, as a church, carve out the necessary time to commune with our Holy God to simply be still and know that He is God. We will all be better because of it. Glory be to God!
Grateful for you all,