Last Sunday our church celebrated the grand public opening of our new building. Two services were planned for the morning, and all preparations and arrangements were ready…or so we thought!

When our staff, techs, and worship musicians arrived at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning we discovered there was only emergency backup power in the building, enough only for a few lights (We later learned that a lighting strike on the pond next to the church the night before damaged a power transformer on the road adjacent to our building).

At that moment two very different emotions rose inside me:

1) I experienced mild panic at the thought that the public opening of our new building was only 90 minutes away and there would be no sound system, video, lights, or air conditioning. Hundreds of people would be coming soon to a darkened, hot building.

2) Almost immediately after the initial shock, I had a flood of peace flood come over me! A sense of calm came as I sensed God’s presence directing me to gather everyone in prayer. I felt the reassurance God reminding me “This is no surprise to me, so come to me with your concerns, do as I direct you, and stand back as watch as I move with power.” I immediately gathered people in the worship center, and we fervently prayed. Prayers of praise and thanks were lifted up along with urgent, heartfelt petitions that God’s power would be revealed whether or not the electrical power was restored. During the next hour, people gathered in different parts of our new building as the prayers of our church continued to rise to God.  The peace that I felt now seemed to permeate the entire church. There was a sense of calm and even joy as we strategized and moved ahead with new plans for the morning. We all knew God had everything under control.

Even as the prayers continued in different areas of the building, alternate service plans started coming together. An electrician and technician from the power company were dispatched as the general contractor of our new building arrived. Lyric sheets were quickly and skillfully prepared. One of our musicians, a principal from a school less than a mile away, was able to make copies and have them at the church ready to be handed out five minutes before the service.  The band, singers, and worship ensemble prepared for new, “unplugged” arrangements of our worship songs.

As I greeted many people ahead of the service, I also informed them we had no electrical power in the building.  One man quickly reminded me, “We might not have electrical power, but we have wonder-working power!”   When the service started, I welcomed everyone and shared what that man had told me.

The presence of God was palpably felt as we began the service with worship, prayers, and singing that I thought would raise the roof! Our time of worship was a powerful display of God’s power and glory over and above earthly power and human plans.

About twenty minutes into the first service the power was restored, and we were able to use the sound system, air conditioning, and video screens for words for the rest of the morning.

It was a memorably day, with powerful worship that I can only describe as being “off the charts”!  Many of the nearly 150 new guests that joined us remarked that it was one of the most profound and moving services they had ever experienced.

Unexpected events can happen to us like lighting strikes that leave us feeling panicked and helpless as our life and plans are shaken or scuttled. We may be tempted to blame God, wonder where He is in the midst of our circumstances, or even walk away from Him.

There are many lessons I continue to learn as I walk through life and it’s ever-changing circumstances:

1)    Walk with God through every event of life. Pray, especially when all seems bleak and hopeless. Remember that God can work everything, even the bad stuff, for your ultimate good when you trust Him and give Him your heart.

2)    Never forget that there is a hidden, deadly enemy that tries to thwart God’s plans in this world and your life. There is no room for naiveté in the life of a Christ follower regarding the enemy known as Satan.

3)    Most importantly, always remember that God is always greater than the dark enemy of your soul. The Bible beautifully states, “… The One Who lives in you is stronger than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4.  God is never surprised by the lightning strikes of our life and is all-powerful to act on our behalf. Nothing can separate us from His love and power (see Romans 8:38)!

4)    In our life and circumstances, God often puts us on display so that His power and glory will be visibly demonstrated through us to this world and the heavenly realms. When we understand this, we can move with confidence in Christ, knowing He is always with us and will be glorified in our situation. I saw this once again last weekend, where a potentially disastrous morning was turned into a memorable encounter with God.

Those living a life of worship will honor God in all circumstances of life so that His glory and power will be on display in and around us.

God bless you!

Chris Atkins