Tuscaloosa, Alabama – Over the last several months and particularly through the days immediately following the storm (we are now in day 50) I have met remarkable men and women, many of whom intentionally relocated to Tuscaloosa because they felt called by God to live here and care for this city of 100,000. It is interesting to hear the stories and watch what they are doing – there is a quiet yet powerful framework in place undergirding the city’s structure. If the walls of the city are covered with fabric woven from threads of prayer **, its beams are made of purpose – inspired titanium. Resilient, focused, relentlessly driven, and sacrificially honoring to the Son – determined to make a difference.

John 12: 27 – 33

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one that serves me. “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’! No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” 

In the difficult post storm days, filled with distractions and annoyance, a re-dedication to purpose is crucial. The practice of “spotting” comes to mind. When jumping and flipping on a trampoline one must fix their eyes on a precise spot to maintain equilibrium. The Body must keep their eyes singularly focused in the same way and on one exact spot. For the days ahead, focusing on the spot while maintaining momentum for each individual and corporate purpose will be crucial to achieve a successful result. When momentum subsides, confusion then apathy or anger starts so The Bride must continue moving forward in regenerating the city. God has an assignment and a purpose for each of us in prolonged seasons of difficulty but gives us the authority to investigate the combination that unlocks the answers for the lives of many. It is our responsibility to embrace difficulty and unmask it – on (and with) purpose. Stay focused on “the spot.”  Jesus knew all about purpose – His life had more purpose than anyone that ever lived. He died for His. You were His “spot”.

Hebrews 7-11

“The time is coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with the forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord I will put my laws in their minds and write them on the tablet of their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord’ because they will all know me from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. By calling this covenant “new” He has made the first one obsolete and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

 It would seem counter-intuitive to God’s purpose for Jesus to leave prematurely but He had a better plan. He left us His Holy Spirit.

‘I will put my laws in their minds and write them on the tablet of their hearts’ – among many other things, the Holy Spirit is our internal friend that grants favor, wisdom,convicts and encourages our minds and is also the gateway to the Godhead. Each person that has a relationship with God through Jesus Christ has access to this person that counsels, guards, and guides, protects and comforts. Having this relationship will be important to everyone in the days ahead as we will all need wisdom and might –  might defined is the ability to walk out divinely imparted wisdom and purpose.

A counterintuitive process is almost always God’s Way. He wants His name glorified and for our lives to be completely built on the foundation of His Son. ( 1 Corinthians 3: 10-15).  God wants the credit –He created us in the first place so that is OK. In 1998, I owned a thriving business in Atlanta with a collection of blue chip accounts, a venture in which I was quite (honestly, too) proud. On February 3, 1998 I received some devastating news. I briefly turned the reins of my business over to my manager, enabling me to temporarily gear down and volunteer for my start up church at that time located in an office complex in Dunwoody, Georgia. Shortly after, I was offered a full time position. I considered this decision for several days as making this move was completely counterintuitive to everything I believed – to intentionally become a church ministry administrator making $38,000 and walk away from a hefty 6 figure salary defied all logic and in my mind could constitute grounds for being institutionalized (insanity!). Thankfully, God had a higher purpose and plan. My 2.5 year North Point Community Church experience in grace among many other things, forever re-prioritizing what was most important. It is always God’s counterintuitive way that achieves the highest purpose for the most number of people for the greatest good.

One of the redemptive covenant names of Jesus is Jehovah Nissi – Our Banner of Victory –  Redeemed means to be bought back, purchased or exchanged which is far more important than atoned or atonement which means to be “covered over”.  A covenant is an irrevocable bond or agreement. When Jesus (God) forms a covenant with you it is like a marriage covenant with Him, but unlike one with another person – it is irrevocable and cannot be taken back. When our purposes are built on the redemptive covenant foundation of God’s Son the gates of hell cannot prevail – and you will always be victorious (Nissi).  The Church, the Bride of Christ, is the strongest organization in each and every community if it is built on the redemptive covenant names of Jesus rather than the worship of one special man. The covenant “marital” benefits of Jesus are; healer, provider, protector, redeemer of righteousness, portal to God’s presence, provider of peace, victor over darkness. Find a church in your community that esteems these benefits over all else.

Please pray for the spiritual and governmental leadership of Tuscaloosa to find and focus on their purpose and maintain the momentum required to achieve the goals set before them.

Tracy Gatewood

**See Wisdom of God