Paul Scanlon, senior pastor of Abundant Life Church, writes about how God stepped in when he preached at City Harvest Church on Apr. 21.
I am writing this from Singapore where our ALM band and I are touring.
We’ve had an awesome time firstly in City Harvest Church Kuala Lumper, and these past two days in City Harvest Church, with Pastor Kong Hee.
Wow, what a weekend we’ve had here!
It has been many years since I have been in a service like we had on Saturday evening.
The best way I can describe it, was that it was a God-interrupted service. I want to say that it has become very important to me in recent years to find the right language to identify and interpret what I perceive God to be doing, wanting, or saying.
This is important because without thoughtful clarity, we invent our own interpretation of what’s happening and our stereotypical thinking usually arrives at a wrong and often exaggerated conclusion.
I have realized that one of my primary leadership gifts is the gift of perception and interpretation and, yet, I have undervalued and, therefore, underused that gift in the past. What happened this weekend at CHC gave me an opportunity to draw upon that gift in a way I haven’t for a while.
In over 35 years as a Christian I can only remember a few God-interrupted services. What I mean by that is that God had another agenda for us which was different to the one we had planned, but not because what we had planned was wrong.
A divinely-interrupted service is no more anointed that a planned one, and our goal isn’t to be interrupted, our goal is to be interruptible. God wants us to plan our work and to get on with building the church or whatever it is He has called us to do. However, He wants us to do that with a “Please Do Disturb” sign hung around our hearts and minds.
If God sees that we are interruptible, He usually doesn’t interrupt, He just blesses us in our plans. God is after flexibility—not an unplanned life—to somehow prove how open we are to being interrupted.
I remember years ago, a man would often start to prophesy during my preaching. I asked him not to do it anymore and he replied, “I can’t help it if the Spirit wants to interrupt your plans.”
I asked him, “Don’t you think the same Holy Spirit that’s using you is also using me? And don’t you think He knew we’d be in same room at same time?”
He asked, “What do you mean?”
I said, “Well, it seems to me that, according to you, the Holy Spirit keeps interrupting Himself.”
This man believed that a spontaneous contribution always trumped a prepared one. Needless to say, I never saw him again.
For my part here, this weekend, God’s interruption began when I felt a shift of priority in my spirit about three hours before the service. By that I mean that my inner flow of thought and preparation was broken, or interrupted, meaning I suddenly lost interest and confidence in my prepared message. I didn’t know what it meant so I stayed calm and shifted into interruptible mode.
It is not easy nor recommended especially as a guest speaker to approach a platform to speak to an audience such as City Harvest Church, which has 7,500 people per service, whilst in interruptible mode. It does, however, help hugely if you have a friendship with the hosting Pastor.
The presence of God was very strong in the service, or maybe it’s just that being interruptible makes you more sensitive and attentive to His presence.
The next piece of the jigsaw arrived when Pastor Tan (Ye Peng, executive pastor of CHC) got up and prayed what I would call a proclamation prayer, that it was a new season for the church and that Springtime was coming.
God immediately reminded me of a verse in Song of Songs 2 v 11: “See the winter is passed, the rains are over and gone , flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come.”
I asked for an iPad to find the verse and then asked if it could be put on screen for my message—whatever that was going to be. None of this was the plan—it was on-the-spot improvisation. And when my time came to speak, I began by explaining to the people that, as leaders, we had just been hijacked, and then I began to attempt to interpret the interruption.
It all came down to what I can only call a seasonal shift announcement: Winter has passed and Spring has come. The next 45 minutes for me were like receiving moment-by-moment memos from the Holy Spirit about what to say next. I don’t recommend it for your health. The result was that we now had a new language for what God was doing, and over the years I’ve realized that once we have the relevant language, then we can enter into what I call the flow of that season.
City Harvest Church have entered their Spring, and the fact that God interrupted us to say that, makes it all the more memorable and special. May we all become more interruptible, may we find the language to interpret our seasons and may we live long in His divine flow!
Reproduced with permission from Paul Scanlon.