This is the first part of a three part series.
I spent July 7 through August 3 traveling through the capitols of nine western states. I met with local teams, praying and worshipping inside the capitol buildings. I preached and taught in various venues along the way. We asked the Lord to intervene in areas of concern to the whole state; in California and Oregon we prayed about the drought; in Idaho it was about illegal immigration and a spirit of rejection; in Montana and Wyoming, a militant spirit of independence that leaves little room for God or human cooperation. The journey became an extended demonstration of Romans 8:28, in which God promises to work all things together for good in those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. He does not promise immediate or even uninterrupted bliss, just that sooner or later – one way or another – He will bless His people across the board. He never lies.
Lots of people think vision is just a really spiritual sounding word for an imaginative plan. But a vision is actually…well…a vision. Anybody who thinks the Lord God cannot communicate with His people in literal visions does not get what it means to say He is the first and authentic source of every great painting, sculpture, and motion picture. And what the Lord showed me – in the interior of imagination He creates – was a suspension bridge spanning the United States. It was composed of local people praying and worshipping inside their selected state capitols. I saw myself called to join them as guest, servant, and catalyst.
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When we begin – anything from new ministry to new business to new art – with a vision we are next called to use our God-given brains to posit a rational route to realization of the vision. In the capitol prayer bridge, I identified nine western states more or less surrounding California as the west coast anchor. I spent six months networking one contact person at a time, beginning with friends and relatives I knew in some of the states and later asking ministry colleagues to connect me with others.
I met people who have transformed a nightclub – once a center for drug dealing and human trafficking – into a place of gathering for Downtown Salem, Oregon, where good food and music are served along with uplifting programs and some of the trafficking victims have returned to receive healing for horrific wounds in body and spirit. We prayed with representatives of the state government, finding bookmarks randomly placed on the same scriptures God planted in other people’s minds to shape the prayers. We spoke of a budding partnership between Salem, Sacramento, and Olympia, Washington, of praying and having each others’ backs. We saw miraculous healings – medically verified – from a chronic skeletal issue to conditions of the heart.
Even things that apparently went wrong became things that went righter than we could imagine. In one state I was forced to visit the capitol alone – a 180 from my intention and what I thought to be God’s plan – because the organizer for that state was hospitalized and there was no team awaiting my arrival. Yet separate (apparently) chance meetings with a tour guide and a member of the governor’s staff netted me as good information about topics for prayer as any team could provide. And when I opened my Bible – seemingly at random – to see what God might reveal from His Word to shape my prayers, it quickly became evident He was downloading information I would never have received listening to a team instead of opening my heart to Him. I love to teach that we put our faith not in our ability to hear, but in His ability to speak. It is true.
The most dramatic convergence of God’ graceful pro-vision and pragmatic reasoning came when I committed to visiting the site of a 19th Century massacre of peaceful Cheyenne and Arapahoe by white American militia. Two days before my planned visit to Sand Creek I got a call from an Arapahoe Elder who had welcomed me onto the land of Wyoming in that state’s capitol. She had just learned through another (seemingly) chance encounter of my plan to pray at Sand Creek. When I told her I did not yet have the requisite blessing of tribal elders to enter the land – nor any idea how to obtain it – she identified herself as a direct descendant of Chief White Antelope, murdered at Sand Creek. She agreed to accompany me and welcome me onto that land as well. God got glory; healing and reconciliation are well underway. Romans 8:28 is again fulfilled across the board.
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James A. Wilson is the author of “Living As Ambassadors of Relationships and The Holy Spirit and the End Times” – available at local bookstores or by e-mailing him at [email protected]
Photo Credit: Steve Evans (Flickr)
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