Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD according to the directions of King David of Israel. They sang, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, saying, "For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever." And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. NASU
Have you ever felt God was leading you to do something very specific? Maybe it was something big, unusual, or possibly, it even seemed silly or crazy. Did others think it was odd, impractical, or too expensive? Did what you were thinking of doing agree with scripture or help fulfill a command of God? If so, there is a good chance, you heard the voice of God.
Thorncrown Chapel, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas reaches forty-eight feet upward towards the Ozark Sky. It has 425 windows and over 6,000 square feet of glass. 1
Since it’s opening in 1980, over five million visitors have walked in the door, been handed a brochure which contains the history of the chapel and the plan of salvation, and have been invited into to sit down and enjoy the magnificent view of the Ozarks. “This is a sit down attraction,” the founder’s wife, Dell Reed said, as she gave a family the brochure. They reverently walked in and sat down. I noticed even the children were quiet with awe. Then, like me, the family opened the brochure and read it from cover to cover.
The brochure contains the story of how God called the founder, Jim Reed, to build this amazing structure, which is now fourth on the AIA’s list of the top buildings in the twentieth century. Retired schoolteachers, Jim and his wife Dell planned for the property to be their place of retirement. The location was so beautiful that people kept pulling off to look at the view. Instead of fencing them out, Jim decided to build them a place where they could “relax in an inspiring way.” 1
Building this Chapel wasn’t easy but then, God’s call usually isn’t. Halfway through the project, money began running out. Jim thought his dream was dead. On what he thought was going to be his last walk down to his beloved half finished Chapel, Jim got down on his knees and prayed more seriously than he had ever prayed before. This was the turning point for the Chapel. A few days later, a woman provided a loan and Jim was able to complete his call from God. 1 If we are faithful, God will always provide a way to complete His call.
Jim died of cancer in 1985, just 5 years after the completion of the Chapel but his legacy lives on. When I visited, his beautiful smiling wife, Dell, greeted me and told me about the chapel. She introduced me to her son, Rev. Doug Reed, who is the minister of the Chapel. The Chapel has two worship services on Sunday, at 9:00 and 11:00 AM. “We don’t have a congregation,” Dell said. “We are a tourist ministry. This Chapel is listed on tourist registries everywhere and we reach people that might not be reached otherwise.”
I couldn’t wait for Sunday. On Sunday morning the first thing I did was to pray for the Chapel and Rev. Reed. Then, I dressed in my best tourist clothes, unplugged Happy, and left to worship God at the Thorncrown Chapel.
I sat down in the Chapel, surrounded by the massive trees of the Ozarks, and let God minister to me through nature. I couldn’t even tell there was glass between the outside and me. How do they keep these windows so clean? I wondered.
When we began slowly singing the glorious hymn, How Great Thou Art, led by their gifted song leader, I thought, Surely this must be what heaven is like. My eyes and heart took in the wonder of my surroundings as I sang the words:
“When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!” 2
When Rev. Reed had us open the word of God, I felt like God was speaking directly to me. The sermon was about the differences between the Old and New Testament covenants and was entitled “Know your blessings.” Thorncrown Chapel is certainly a blessing to the world.
I asked Dell if her husband was the first pastor. “No,” Dell smiled. “We were school teachers, remember?” Much like Noah building the ark and David building the temple, these schoolteachers heard the call of God and used their resources to fulfill it. Jim and Dell’s obedience has helped millions of people experience the presence of God.
You can see pictures of Thorncrown Chapel by going to the Photogallery under Arkansas – Eureka Springs – Thorncrown Chapel. While Thorncrown Chapel has never passed an offering plate in their worship services, they survive from donations. You can find out more information about them by going to www.thorncrown.com.
1 – Information directly from the brochure – Thorncrown Chapel
2 – Hymn – How Great Though Art; Words & music by Carl G. Boberg and R.J. Hughes