I’ll never forget the day Anna and I climbed the Mount of Olives from its base at the Kidron Brook near the Golden (or Eastern) Gate, up the steep Ascent of Olives and over the top, down into Bethany on the eastern slope of the mount. Just as we crested the summit, with a stunning view of Jerusalem sprawled before us, we encountered a simple, obviously ancient pillar, a cylinder firmly implanted beside the dusty roadway standing about six or seven feet high. Upon inquiry we discovered it was an actual “milestone,” such as the Romans placed intermittently along the thousands of miles of roads they constructed throughout their empire.
Last week I passed a very personal milestone—my 75th birthday—and was reminded of the place “pillars” have had in my life. I can review “people pillars” who, as pastors, teachers and elders, have not only poured “the stuff of life” into me, but who thereby buttressed and shaped me as a man, as a believer and as a leader. There have also been “pillar principles” that have risen, gradually forming my understanding of “life-as-God’s-Word-reveals-it,” and these have provided direction and stability as well. But it’s a third kind of pillar—”prayer pillars”—that I have in mind today; ones that literally stand in my front yard, and they are especially close to my heart at this time of my transitioning from serving you as president of our movement.
These stand tall—11 brick pillars like sentinels, prompting abiding reminders of “realms” of prayer—responsibility I know Father God has given me to constantly steward before His throne. Each one embraces its own broad scope of worthy concern and needed prayer, and serves to keep my intercessory prayer life focused. They span the relational to the institutional, the national to the international, the civic to the church—and within those categories, a constant stream of issues come and go, but not without being attended by prayer.
However, one pillar bears this name: The Foursquare Church. Decades ago I named that pillar, and have prayed for those who lead us, at the same time seeking God to prosper and keep us as a people constant to His purpose. As you would expect, the dimension of detail in my prayer has increased at that pillar these past five years, as I literally walk the path the 11 pillars trace in my yard. And today—standing at this juncture in my life, I am moved to ask you to meet me there in the Spirit as you pray this week and into the coming year. I want to ask you to hear my heart as I make a covenant before you and before our Lord; then, I am asking you to also join my hand to share a second covenant with me.
First, I want to covenant with God and before you, that even though I will shortly conclude my role as president, I am and will continue to abide under the dynamic call Samuel answered as he “transitioned.” When his role was being adjusted, he made this commitment: “God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23).
Second, as we enter this transitional year in our Foursquare family, join hands with me and others, to share as a people in taking the covenant Israel did when Jehoida, the high priest, called them to account in God’s presence as the people moved into the future with a new leader. His call was that they refuse the world-spirit of a paganized world’s influence and politics, and he urged them to invoke the leadership of God’s ways into their lifestyle and pursuits together. They accepted his call, and sealed their covenant with this declaration: “We will be the LORD’s people!” (2 Chronicles 23:16).
Today, I make my pledge before Father God at this season of transition I am experiencing. As I do, please confirm, with me and in His presence, your will to establish a pillar—”The People’s Pillar;” a pillar of prayer and purity of heart, with a fixed focused on a future under the Lordship of Christ and a dependence on God’s Spirit and in humility before His throne.
That is a pillar that will stand—far longer than even a Roman milestone.