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When God “shows up”

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Thirty years ago, I began using the phrase, “God really showed up!” I usually don’t give this expression much thought as I describe situations where there seems to be a more tangible presence of God and the work of the Spirit. But how could I think that the eternal, omnipresent Creator of all things “shows up,” as if it were remotely possible that he has been absent for even a millisecond of our lives?

Yet, there are times when I know that the almighty God has demonstrated his powerful presence and miraculous work in my time and space, and it seems to me that “God shows up.”

Recently, that happened to me – quite vividly.

In November 2017, following the C2C Network summit in Quebec City, I began to experience brief periods of dizziness. I set it aside as a mere inconvenience, but by mid-December, this dizziness had settled in for the ride through the Christmas season. My doctor decided that viral vertigo was the most likely diagnosis, to be treated with medication.

As our family rang in the New Year, my wobbly balance and visual disorientation required me to stay close to the walls as a guide, wait for my wife Karen to tuck her arm into mine to steady my walk, and ride in the passenger seat of the car.

By the middle of January, the vertigo became severe and, because of my pre-existing acoustic neuroma, doctors quickly scheduled an MRI and prescribed more powerful medications.

As I continued with my work, my illness became widely known. Many people joined my family in prayer for God’s healing work in my body.

Feb. 5–10, 2018, was a full week of national leadership meetings in Vancouver and Abbotsford. A key consideration of the Executive Board meeting was the collaborative model proposal of the One Mission Partnership Task Force.

In the final hours of this deliberation, many of the Canadian MB partners were gathered in the room. We made the unanimous decision to affirm the proposal and take the presentation to the MB family for wider discussion and discernment.

One leader emotionally expressed his 15-year yearning prayer for this kind of unity in our family. At that, the meeting spontaneously burst into praise and worship to God.

My head was down and I steadied myself sitting at the table.

“I should try to join the singing…” My medicated, raspy voice suddenly sounded out clear and strong again.

Astonished and now sitting upright, I joined the Doxology: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”

And then I realized: “The vertigo is gone!”

“I’m no longer dizzy!” I shouted into the singing and praising.

Going to each one in the room, I exclaimed boldly: “I believe I have been healed by God! Today, the Lord has been my deliverer!”

In our cynical moments, we may think that a board meeting is the last place God would show up. But I know he did for me, and he does show up in love and mercy for us, over and over again.

So, is it enough that I tell my story of healing and we all give praise to God?

Is the extended benefit of my heightened alertness to God’s voice and his word the greatest outcome?

Is the time and place of this healing at an Executive Board meeting a greater word from God to the MB leadership?

In the expansive purposes of God in his mission, is there a deeper and substantial meaning that God may speak to the MB churches and ministries in Canada?

What does it look like when “God shows up” everywhere in and through us?

[Steve Berg is interim executive director of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches. He lives in Abbotsford, B.C.

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