Long’s Chapel Family -
You are loved by God and you are valued by Long’s Chapel. I feel blessed to be one of your pastors in this season and even though our life together looks different, the mission God has called us to has never been more vital that it is NOW. Exciting things are happening in ministry and with the new campus expansion. Be on the lookout for updates coming!
This past week we held our first evening worship, Arise. It was a great time of worship and fellowship together as the modern band lead the music, which was extraordinary. Shawn Winburn presented a powerful message. I wanted to reflect on some of his thoughts through the pastor’s letter today. Enjoy.
“It’s crazy to think that on my calendar, I was supposed to be somewhere in the Virginia or Tennessee woods hiking with a group of teenagers on Wilderness Trail this month. Our schedules and world have been turned around, and so much has changed in a short time for us. Who misses being overwhelmed by someone’s coffee breath on Sunday morning because you were standing too close to them? Are things that bad that I miss that? Funny the things that we miss when we can’t be together.
The unexpected comes when we least expect it, and this is what happens to one of my favorite characters in the Bible. I love the story of Esther for several reasons, one being she is a teenager/young adult woman who faces an unexpected situation that lands her in a moment of incredible stress and decision. Her faith gets tested in some pretty extreme circumstances. Her world gets turned upside down, and she finds herself learning just how much faith she has.
Have you ever had your faith pushed to its limits? Jesus talks a lot about our measure of faith when the chips are down, and our bluff is called. Esther gets put into the role of the next Queen without signing up, but she finds herself the only hope for herself, her uncle, and an entire nation. No pressure.
How much pressure are you facing right now? How much uncertainty do you have?
And her uncle tells her, listen!!!! Maybe, just maybe, you were placed in this position for such a time as this. ‘For such a time as this.’ We can say that now, can’t we? How crazy is the time we are living? How much uncertainty is there? I can only imagine what the stress and burden on this young woman had to have been. It’s hard enough to dig deep into the storehouse of our faith as adults, let alone a teenager trying to find her way in her young faith. Maybe that’s why she called for a three-day fast.
Here is another reason I love Esther so much. Instead of losing all hope and despairing beyond grief and raging on social media and blaming everyone else, what does she do? She calls for a fast so that she can lean more fully into God and not away from Him.
Esther becomes my mentor in how to increase my faith in challenging times: Lean in, fast, pursue God like my life depended upon it.
Because, as you may know, in her story, her life did depend upon it. She leaned into her faith that God was going to show up and show out. Esther is speaking to each of us today and calling for us to be bold in times that call for a bold love.
Jesus, too, calls us into deeper faith to step into the choppy waters to meet him. He called David into the center with Goliath. He called Abigail to stop a militarized David from destroying her entire household. He called Moses to face Pharaoh. He called Amos to challenge his countrymen. He called Mary to bear Jesus. He calls Peter, you, and me to step out into the choppy waters of life, for such a time as this, into deeper faith believing that Jesus’s hand is going to grab ours and that we are going to be led to the very next step and then the next. We are called to a powerful faith, a faith that reveals that God is at work in our lives when we don’t know what to expect next. He calls us to trust Him boldly with our insecurities and our fears. He calls us to love those we despise and disagree with. He calls us into uncomfortable places for our faith to get deeper and stronger and more intimate.
Esther, and so many like her, is our role model for today. Where do you need to trust God today? What uncertainty do you face in your life that you need God’s hand in your hand to lead you through? What peace do you need in your life right now that will assure you that you are not alone, that you are that precious treasure, that masterpiece scripture talks about, that child that God will not leave or forsake? What fears need to be put to rest that you need to give to God’s very capable hands? What type of fasting do we need to call for ourselves? In other words, where do we need to ‘pull back’ on our daily routines to ‘pull in’ the Holy Spirit?
There is a song that I want to close with that’s by Hope Darst that’s called “Peace Be Still.” Do yourself a favor and follow this link (https://youtu.be/lsIpGiz3SfQ) and spend 5 minutes with God.
In the song she says
“I don’t wanna be afraid, every time I face the waves,
I don’t wanna fear the storm just because I hear it roar
Peace be still, say the word, and I will
Set my feet upon the sea until I’m dancing in the deep
Peace be still, you are hear so it is well
Even when my eyes can’t see I will trust the voice that speaks’”
- Shawn Winburn, Director of Student Ministry
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!!!
Chris Westmoreland Lead Pastor Long’s Chapel