AN APPOINTMENT WITH DAD
I was recently “on assignment” in Portland. I was not sure what the assignment was even up until my first morning in the city, waking up in my hotel room and realizing I was finally there. I had followed several clues and knew I had an assignment of some kind because the Holy Spirit had highlighted Portland several times. By coincidence, my family had already planned a trip to the Oregon Coast, giving us a chance to pass through Portland. When a friend mentioned that she was going to Portland a month earlier than I, in order to see a Chinese garden modeled after the Chinese city of Suzhou where I had traveled several times and built many special relationships. When this friend who had traveled with me said that Portland was a sister city to Suzhou, my spirit leaped within me and said, “pay attention.”
About a week later, in spite of my general lack of interest in watching TV, I passed by one while it was on and overheard the narrator of a program talk about a building project with an architectural style unique to Portland, Oregon. Since Portland was on my radar, and since I have grown used to this pattern of repetition with which the Holy Spirit highlights place to me, I made note of it.
Even though I had passed through Portland before with no piqued interest, something pinged me as if a spark went off in my spirit. This feeling was enough to think I was being sent “on assignment” by God to Portland, Oregon.
In June of 2016 my parents and I were on the way home from the Oregon Coast and because of my sense of having an assignment, I had made it a point to stop and stay overnight in Portland. Staying there meant getting a hotel room and canceling a non-refundable economic plane ticket I had already bought, then booking another much more expensive one-way ticket instead of driving back to Los Angeles with my parents. Assignments often cost at the very least an inconvenience, at the very worst, a lot of extra fees especially because one can make plans too early. This trip ended up costing more than three times what I hoped to spend.
After a good night’s rest, I entered the hall way from my 18th floor room of my hotel, and pressed the elevator button to go to the ground floor restaurant where Mom and Dad were having breakfast, when I noticed a gentleman sitting in the waiting area with an Indian accent, looking like he was in his forties, talking on a cell phone about having something signed and passed by the Canadian parliament. I got what felt like a tactile shower in the spirit from the Lord, telling me to pay attention. I wondered what this was all about and took note. When my parents and I came back through the hallway 45 minutes later the same man was still in the hallway, though not on the phone any more. I asked the Holy Spirit if I was supposed to say something but did not get any prompt that I was supposed to. I did not want to appear as if I was eavesdropping earlier and was afraid that if I said something, that would have been one of the first things that would have spilled out of my mouth.
We went in our rooms and Mom and Dad packed up to leave. I walked them down to check out. I saw him yet another time, now in the lobby, wearing a different set of clothes and with an Asian girl. I got the impression they were not married but had a romantic relationship. I still was not prompted to make contact with the man. I don’t know what part he played in my assignment.
A GOD CONNECTION
After sending Mom and Dad off on their road trip home, I went back to my room, got my own breakfast, asked for a late check out. My first inclination was to go to the Lan Su Chinese Gardens, which my friend had recommended, so I took the Light Rail there and fell in queue with about 15 people and bought my entrance ticket for $9.50. I had not been planning on being impressed by the garden after seeing the real one in China. In line with that expectation, I wasn’t. I headed toward the middle of the garden as I heard the Holy Spirit say, “where is the center?”
“It would be here,” I said as I walked toward the pavilion in the middle of a pond where no one had ventured yet but which appeared to be the center focus of many a camera among those who were there. God’s tactile presence showered on me as I stood there receiving His embrace. This shower sensation had only been growing more and more over the past few years while in China, representing His tangible presence and love for me. I looked over at the small waterfall and walked through the children’s section of the grounds. I then circled around by the entrance and came back.
I felt a warm intimacy with the Father and He thanked me for coming. I asked if paying the extra $400 to take the one way flight home after cancelling my first non-refundable plane ticket was the right thing to do. He said it was. I thanked him because it confirmed to me that regardless of the way I viewed my monetary needs, He would still provide.
I looked through some painted prints and some silk embroidery prints and noticed a Caucasian woman doing the same, even seeming to gravitate toward the same prints. I soaked in His presence in the garden, looking at a wall with small holes leading to a constricted view of the street outside. I made note of every moment He was embracing me and how the feelings changed when I was in a different part of the garden.
Another room had a “Go” or “Wei Qi” exhibit, where His presence came with a violent rush as if he was downloaded strategies. It was as if I couldn’t get enough of this warm tactile embrace of His love and He couldn’t help from giving more to me.
A RELATIONAL ASPECT
The time was finished, and I went back to my hotel room just in time to start heading back out to catch my flight. Suddenly, big cold drops of rain began falling out of the sky as I left. I asked Father if he could hold it off. The effect was not immediate. At the bus stop I asked why he didn’t stop the rain. He said it was raining for someone else’s good. I was a little wet and chilled, and was glad when the Light Rail came about 8 minutes later. I rushed on board with my suitcase to get out of the rain, then suddenly realized I may not be on the right car so I asked the man in front of me.
“I should get off at the next stop to catch the red train shouldn’t I?”
“I wouldn’t if I were you,” he said, “I would get off at Gateway.”
I asked where Gateway was.
“At about 99th and something,” then going on to say, “I’ve been here 50 years.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, I’m a tourist.”
“Yeah, hard to tell,” he mumbled.
He went on about how Portland changed because of the axis shift of the earth, “but no one talks about it because it’s a government secret but it’s obvious to every school kid: the sun used to rise there (pointing to the horizon) and now it rises here.”
He had another theory about the US judicial courts all being a government controlled conspiracy. I found it interesting that the Holy Spirit led me to him.
I felt my neck muscles tight, my throat dry, and my body chilly and wet, the perfect storm for catching a cold. I asked Father God if I would not catch a cold since I was on assignment. He said I would not. I felt relieved. I wandered around the Portland airport and settled on something to eat.
I thought about the assignments I had been on through out the past few years and asked Him about what an “assignment” was. It seemed like no more than a date with Dad; an appointed time and place where He asked me to go to meet him. I sat in wonder on the plane ride home. It was an ordinary, yet extraordinary time. I was led to write the following essay of what it means to be “on assignment.”
“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”
- Proverbs 25:2
An “assignment” as we use the term, is when one is being sent by God into a place or to an individual or group of individuals in order to participate with God closely in accomplishing His purposes. Sometimes the result from an assignment is immediately evident as if finishing ones homework, sometimes no result is particularly evident as if one never even started. The point is, not necessarily to accomplish a tangible result, though that may well happen; the point is, the opportunity to be on a “date” with God, and to walk intimately walk Him as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The product of which is, a deeper relationship with God.
An assignment has a beginning and an end. Jesus the Son of God’s assignment was to come to earth, and so was “on assignment” during his whole life on Earth. The hardest thing about remaining in a long term assignment is being led by the Spirit of God and not by our own soul, a portion of us that contains our minds, emotions, and wills, which creeps in if we are not constantly submitting to Him.
When one understands one is “on assignment” because it is God initiating it, there can be no striving. Yet it is not absent of using one’s mind, heart and will, and it is not absent of hard work and sacrifice. It becomes necessary to restrain oneself from making something happen, and one needs to submit oneself completely to the leading of the Holy Spirit in order to fulfill the intention of the assignment.