OVER THE TOP
Our long-awaited Montage weekend in Laguna Beach with Phoenix Seminary investors is over but as I continue to reflect on it, all I can say is, "It was over the top!" Let me explain.
A week or so before we left for the weekend, Darryl and I were inspired by a movie about Sir Winston Churchill called Walking With Destiny. The movie documents the period of time after Churchill was named prime minister of Great Britain in 1940 up until the point the United States of America entered World War II.
On June 4, 1940, Churchill told the House of Commons that even though all of Europe might fall, "...we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end...we shall fight in the seas and oceans... we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing-grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..." Rarely, if ever, has a national leader taken over in such a desperate hour.
Churchill was a noted speaker, author, painter, soldier and war reporter. He demonstrated a matchless command of the English language and he spoke as he wrote - clearly, vividly, majestically. He used his rhetoric to bolster the people of Great Britain as they struggled for survival. Looking back on this chapter in his life, he wrote, "I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial."
His personal courage, the grandeur of his words, and his faith in victory, even if it was not yet clear how that victory could be achieved, inspired the British nation to "their finest hour." The mere sight of this stocky, determined man - a cigar in his mouth and two fingers raised high in a "V for victory" salute - cheered the people.
"Their finest hour" was a phrase lifted from a 36 minute speech Churchill delivered to the House of Commons on June 18, l940. Just a month after he took over as prime minister, he talked about the noble causes for which Great Britain was fighting. He said, "Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour."
Moved to tears by this phrase, I asked our committed prayer warriors to pray that this donor weekend would be our finest hour. I asked them to pray that our courage and strength would grow in direct proportion to our challenges. Instead of cowering before them - that our group of 100 souls would be unified and bound together in sharing the burden of sustaining Phoenix Seminary.
God did above and beyond all that we thought possible. The doors of heaven opened and Phoenix Seminary was blessed with financial commitments of over six million dollars. Every person attending gathered around Darryl and I in a prayer of commitment to build Phoenix Seminary and to stand firmly behind its mission of Scholarship with a Shepherd's Heart.
Finally, traction had come to pitch the seminary forward into the destiny God has already designed for it! His "over the top" display of power will remain in our hearts and memories forever. To God be ALL the glory!