How Important We Are
Bishop Paul Lanier | September 22, 2021
Bishop Paul Lanier, The Fellowship’s Chairman of the Board, shares a Christian perspective on events impacting Israel, the U.S., and the world.
So what do the High Holy Days mean for you and me as Christians? Do these revered moments have anything to say to our faith? Yes, they do.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, what we often call the Old Testament, in the Book of Genesis, during the dawning moments of creation, the Bible says that God created and named the stars, flinging them into orbit. He placed the sun millions of miles away from the earth. And Scripture tells us that He created the moedim or “appointed times.” He already made up His mind to create a calendar that belonged to Him — beginning with Shabbat — so His people could engage Him, and He could let us know how very much He loves us.
And this is an important reminder. Because I know that there are times when we feel as if no one understands, no one cares, and no one is even aware of what we’re going through in our world or in our life. But it is during these sacred days — these High Holy Days — that we can be reminded how determined God is to reveal His great love to us.
A Sign of His Love
Growing up, sometimes people thought me and my sister were twins; she meant the world to me.
Cancer hit her really hard. And she was going through a particularly brutal time. It was difficult for her husband, especially, and the entire family. And I myself was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer), and underwent surgery. But I experienced a miracle and was blessed by God — I survived. But my sister continued to get sicker.
Usually, on Thursday nights, I’m ministering to my congregation. But I was so discouraged by what was going on with my sister that I just didn’t have the heart to show up to service that Thursday night. And I asked my wife to go to service and I told her I was going to stay behind and talk with the Lord awhile.
She left and I was alone. I took my phone because it needed to charge and nobody was going to call me because everybody knows on Thursday night I’m in the house of God, worshipping with His people.
So I plugged it into the wall to charge and I began praying to God, pouring out my heart. Have you ever been in that kind of situation? I began to ask the Lord if He could send me a sign so that I knew He was aware of what’s was going on in our family.
Around that time, the phone rang… it was a number I didn’t recognize. But I answered it. A man’s voice answered with a heavy accent and I couldn’t understand him when he told me his name. But I heard him say he was in Jerusalem, Israel, and that the rabbi had asked him to reach out and to collect prayer requests of people so that in the morning they could pray about people’s needs.
He asked me, “Is there something I can pray with you about?”
That hit me so hard. I leaned against the wall and I slid down the wall as I was holding the phone. I began to tell this man the situation — all the while knowing that God was speaking to me.
In Covenant With God
When we hung up, I wanted to tell somebody, but I couldn’t think of who to talk to because, again, everyone was in church. Then, I thought about my daughter, who’s named after her aunt. She was a college student at the time, so she was on her way to class.
When my daughter answered, I said, “Baby girl, I need to tell you something.” I said, “There’s a lot of things we’re going to face in this world. We don’t understand a lot of pain, anguish, heartache, and suffering.
“But your father and your mother are in covenant with God and with Israel through The Fellowship and our congregation — and that’s a part of your heritage that we started so many years ago.
“And so I just want you to know that while you’re on your college campus and when you’re praying to the Lord and you need a sign — he will answer, even if he has to wake up a Jewish person in Israel in the middle of the night to reassure you.”
You Matter to God
So during these High Holy Days, maybe you were wondering if these days matter to you and your faith. Or maybe you were wondering if you matter to God.
I just wanted to let you know that God has appointed times — specific seasons where He is determined to reveal his great love to you and to make sure you know how precious you are to Him. I hope this brings you comfort like it comforts me. Shalom.
Bishop Paul Francis Lanier