God Sightings

“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the
children to
their fathers” Malachi 4:6 (NIV)

God shows up in remarkable places, in remarkable ways and at remarkable times. One such time was in the Spring of 2003. I was attending the Church Shift Conference at Community Christian Reformed Church of Meadowvale, Mississauga. If there was a ranking of conferences this one would have been right down near the bottom. There were no significant church leaders in attendance, the speakers weren’t well known, and there couldn’t have been more than about 100 registered participants…

But God isn’t interested in pedigree, position, or plurality. What He’s interested in is penitence. On the Friday evening of the conference there was a wonderful time of praise and worship, preaching from God’s Word, and a drama involving dance, banners, flags and music. As the drama finished you could have heard a pin drop. There was a living stillness as opposed to a dead silence. The Holy Spirit was gently moving up and down the aisles. Expectancy hung in the air. Then a plaintive sob pierced the stillness. It was a sob unlike any other I’d ever heard – untarnished, sincere, heart rending.

In quick succession people started moving to the front of the church. Pastors asked market place leaders for forgiveness in not supporting and encouraging them in their vocations and in response the market place leaders asked forgiveness for the divide they’d helped perpetuate between the market place and the church. It was significant, but the best was yet to come.

The conference chairman asked the youth to come and stand before the people. A motley group with body piercing, shabby dress and funky hair do’s soon swelled the ranks of those already standing before the congregation. What happened next disarmed us all. A man in his early forties knelt before the youth and began to pray; “I come before you as a father to ask forgiveness for how we’ve treated you . . . for being angry when we should have shown grace . . . for ignoring you when we should have been loving you . . . for criticising when we should have encouraged . . . for judging when we should have nurtured . . .” On and on it went. I don’t remember all the words but my heart was pierced. Tears streamed down my cheeks and ran into my mouth. My chest heaved as sobs escaped my lips.

But what was happening in the pew was nothing compared to what was happening at the front of the church. The more the father prayed the more a young boy cried. The same plaintive cry that had pierced the stillness earlier.

Nothing like this could ever be orchestrated. It was a God thing. The boy, whom I later learned was named Andrew, was probably only about eight years old. There wasn’t another child in the gathering. God had appointed Andrew to be His instrument – a living expression of repentance and reconciliation. It was a kairos moment. Generational barriers were removed, strongholds of pride and position destroyed, and a breath of heaven filled the air. As hearts turned back to God, love flowed and healing ensued.

God sightings are like that. He steps in when self gets out of the way. He tabernacles with His people when they take Him seriously. He touches us when we turn to Him through genuine repentance. And “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6) when we rend our hearts and not our garments (cf. Joel 2:13).

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