LIGHTS OUT! (the true Power Source)

Lights out!

What happens when just seconds before performing on a concert stage, the power goes out, all music, sound and media equipment shuts down and the large auditorium is plunged into complete darkness?  … maybe a little bit awkward?

No, this is not some crazy re-occurring “musician’s nightmare” (like the “flash-backs” to our childhood when we dream of not being able to find our locker at high-school) but a real-life scenario that happened to Brad Toews and I in Welland, Ontario at Wellspring Community Church. We were booked to do a Compassion Sunday morning service. This became a church service I will never forget – with some important lessons I want to remember!

Marc Brule, the senior pastor of Wellspring had just finished introducing us after a vibrant time of worship led by Andrew Thompson and the Wellspring’s Worship Band, when the lights in the auditorium (and the whole town of Welland as we quickly learned in the hour that followed) was plunged into complete darkness. The power outage rendered my electric violin and Brad’s  electric keyboards completely useless – not to mention all the media and visuals we had meticulously pulled together for the morning event!

Powerless and in the dark, pastor Marc (now on a megaphone that was quickly scrounged up from the children’s ministry), asked for the doors to be propped open to let in some light, then encouraged the congregation (who were sitting at round cafe style tables – representing the relaxed “community feel” of the church) to share among themselves how God had been at work in their lives that week. Marc, Brad and I then discussed our options  …

1) Wait for 15 minutes and cancel the service if power was not returned.
2) Plan to do the concert later that afternoon if/when power was restored
… or … we were quickly running out of ideas.

After praying with Brad about what we should do, I felt a strong sense that we should go ahead with the service … in the dark. With no acoustic piano in the building, I was on my own – solo. I honestly had no idea how it would work out, but just proceeded in faith. I decided to start by playing and improvising on my acoustic violin while walking through the congregation between the tables in the dark … “Amazing Grace” came to my mind and I played that and a few other spontaneous, unplanned songs … then speaking through the megaphone to candlelight, I shared my story of God’s grace and healing in my life. I remember thinking that it was remarkable how quiet and attentive the congregation was  – even the young children with their parents. I then led the congregation in singing Tommy Walker’s classic worship song:  “He Knows My Name” joined by Marc (guitar) and Andrew (vocals) who had pulled the lyrics up on his iPhone.  As a trio we led the congregation in these words:

I have a Maker, He formed my heart
Before even time began, my life was in his hands

He knows my name, He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls, and He hears me when I call

I have a Father, He calls me His own
He’ll never leave me, no matter where I go

He knows my name, He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls, and He hears me when I call

It was a beautiful, intimate moment – that even in that darkness, God, our Father was there … knowing all and in absolute control.

Getting the message of Compassion out on a megaphone in the dark! (iPhone photo – Andrew Thompson)

I closed the service by sharing about the amazing work of Compassion to children and families in poverty and in need around the world. At the end of the service exactly one hour later, just as we were packing up our unused gear, the power turned back on in the building! In my heart I knew that God wanted that one hour in Welland to be free of regular power so he could show HIS POWER.

In an email to Marc and Andrew the next day, I wrote:

A great day yesterday – one we will never forget … God worked despite the circumstances – He was THE LIGHT in the darkness! 15 children were sponsored and saved from poverty – only eternity will tell the spin off from this for the Kingdom …. not to mention the brother who gave his life to Jesus yesterday during the service! … Brad and I felt we met some true “kindred spirits” yesterday … as challenging as it was, I left refreshed and greatly encouraged that God is truly in control and will work despite us and all our plans or ideas. In our weakness, He is strong!

Andrew wrote back with these words:

… we were really blessed by what occurred in the midst of yesterday’s circumstances. We all ‘say’ we trust God and His word when it says that He works all things together for good, for those that love Him…but yesterday we witnessed that. God did not restore the power (hydro), but He demonstrated the (restorative) power of His Spirit in our midst yesterday. People were blessed and challenged…by the music played and by the words that were spoken, lives were touched and saved…in the midst of darkness, someone came to the light and the light of God’s love was focused on our hearts as to how we might help to ‘save’ others…and people responded.

Thanks Trevor and Brad for being able to work outside of your comfort zone, not to ‘save’ the service but to allow God to work through you…period. Glad to know that it was a blessing to you as well…many blessings on you as you continue to serve Christ the Light of the world!

Two verses comes to mind when I think of the lessons I learned from that Sunday morning in Welland:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”, declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8).

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9)

The lessons?

1) God is at work – despite us and all our efforts. Everything that happens is in His perfect will. He does not need technology, fancy visuals or human power to reveal Himself and to do His work.
2) Prayer is critical and powerful. Through prayer with Brad and others and the prayers of Flyingbow Partners who regularly hold these events up in prayer, I was able to discern God’s will and plan for the morning and run with that plan. As I ventured forward in faith, God gave me his words and an incredible sense of peace.
3) God likes to take us out of our comfort zone to show His strength and power in our weakness. This is “the great adventure” of following in the steps of Jesus! There is nothing like it!

Until next time …


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