LANDOVER, Md. – Stop trying to control your life, said the 62nd Chaplain of the U.S. Senate to a room full of the nation's top evangelical leaders.
After initially joking that he wanted to give a more optimistic message but was prompted by the Holy Spirit to do otherwise, Chaplain Barry Black dived into a message on how leaders should respond to the dark days for the opening session of the 2009 Evangelical Leaders Forum Thursday evening.
Christian leaders, though in a position to lead others, are themselves weak and don't know what to pray for many times, said Black. He offered two prescriptions to the evangelical leaders struggling with difficult situations.
"I challenge you to meet your dark days by letting go of control and let Jesus be your pilot and by learning the nature of true prayer," said Black.
He shared about his own experience with letting God control his life and learning God's will through prayer.
Following his retirement from the U.S. Navy, Black had several job interviews with one offering to pay him $200,000. Though he was encouraged by friends to take the high-paying job offer, he said he didn't have peace about it and delayed accepting the job.
For four months he waited and prayed while resisting the $200,000 job offer. Then one day the company flew him in and told him they couldn't wait any longer and he had 24 hours to respond.
As Black was waiting at the airport to fly back home pondering if he should accept the offer, then Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist called him and offered him the position to be the 62nd Chaplain of the U.S. Senate.
"Had I accepted the $200,000 job four months earlier without the peace of God, I would have been under contract so that when Dr. Frist extended to me this wonderful invitation I would not have been able to accept it," Black said. "But when you learn the nature of true prayer and you learn how to wait upon the Lord and wait for his peace then you will get through dark days."
Black was the first plenary session speaker at the Evangelical Leaders Forum organized by the National Association of Evangelicals. Some 200 evangelical leaders have gathered for the invitation-only event taking place at First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Landover, Md., from Oct. 8 to 9.
This year's theme is "Christian Justice in Difficult Times" and track sessions topics include immigration, creation care, nuclear terrorism, and poverty, among other issues.
Michael Gerson, columnist for The Washington Post and senior research fellow at the Institute for Global Engagement, and Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, will speak at the plenary sessions on Friday.