Saturday, July 24

Cultivated ground

"For ground that has drunk the rain that have often fallen on it, and that produces vegetation useful to those it is cultivated for, receives a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and about to be cursed, and will be burned at the end." Hebrews 6:7-8 (HASB)

It has been a journey, as I have articulated aloud the big, audacious and hairy dreams that God has 'haunted' my nights and my daytime daydreams with. I have gone far afield to experience some things that God wanted to impact me with and have seen the overwhelming power of His hand when one walks within the uncomfortable alien-ness of His plans. I have changed so much in the last eight months alone that I have stopped wondering if I'll ever be perfected into the plans He has set aside from the dawning of the world for me and me alone…..for I know there will never be a moment where I do not need the authority and teaching of the Spirit to guide me into the greater heights of perfection in God's design. I am broken and taped together by the duct tape of God to perform the tasks that He has set before me……broken, uncomfortable and thirsty for the things that I have surrendered in this world for the sake of the eternal one.

Even in that broken state, even as I agonize over the things that I struggle with and have to renew the efforts to overcome… the pouring of the rain (i.e. Spirit) there has grown a testimony that defies the human explanation of God and requires one to search out this Jesus for themselves as a means to understand why, even as my world dumps on me, that I lift my hands and raise my eyes to the Heavens and declare His name above all others.

Even as I seek to understand Him more.

God transcends the universe and is beyond the ability of the human mind to fully understand even as we assign human characteristics (and its failings) to a being that cannot be boxed into simple explanations and whose love defies our feeble attempts to define. And yet, we have the transcendent and human form of Christ to help us as we dig into the biblical text. God is limitless despite our attempts to limit His authority, power and grace……

We want to have a life that is convenient and safe, a journey full of waypoints and checklists that we can look at in the coming storms and say, okay…this will last only for a while and then we're back on the easy side of things. We approach our faith and our journey in the Christian walk the same way. It is the convenient things we tend to do in ministry; outreach, worship, preaching and fellowship events….things that have a visible return to them. We can tweak or adjust the media, the volunteering or the atmosphere of the events to generate a return. We tend to stray away from those things that are visibly a failure.

We only want to fight the battles that we can see a clear victory in.

We are overwhelmed by a world that has gone mad, a church that has become more part of the culture that it is supposed to change, and a God that seems so hard to understand because the things we read seem to contradict the common image of a 'God of love.' Relationships that we thought were on track suddenly derail, flinging railcars like tonka toys into the landscape of our lives. Careers we enjoyed and thought secured suddenly vanish overnight and cast us into the harsh night of unemployment. Family and friends that we thought we'd enjoy forever suddenly are taken by the erotic diseases that seem custom-tailored to eliminate the human species. In a world gone crazy, we expect a God to move in ways to present to us security and some level of 'comfort' even as He calls and beckons us to venture out into the darkness.

We are willing for the quick jaunts into the darkness to 'snatch and grab' some people from the enemy's clutches but we aren't willing to be an occupation force that desires to recover a population that is more use to the sounds of battle and heartache than restoration and peace. We aren't in it for the long haul, because to do so would cost us our sense of security, faith and improvement.

I think that is my mistake also…the unwillingness to 'sit in my junk' as my mentor Scott Engelman has said….even in this place where security and comfort don't carry much meaning as they would in other's lives. But, instead of releasing, I'm grasping onto those little bits of comfort and security that I can manage to squeeze out of life……and I get angry when they are taken away, especially if they are taken away by someone else. I can say I am not a pastor because someone else doesn't have the vision I do, or has the ability to believe in the power of God to elevate me into such a position…..though elevating is the wrong word…..but would that be true. Far beyond the common catchphrase of 'God will provide a way if He intends this to be,' which is nothing more than a sell-off of those who don't want to step into the life of this man and begin to disciple, mentor and bring such 'opportunity' into play. They can't hear God saying that He's put them into the place to bring such into being. I can say that I am not a missionary because I've made the choice to stay stateside for the opportunity to be in a relationship with another caring and amazing Christian woman….but then, with the rocky way things have been lately, could I say I made a mistake? Or is God taking me through another lesson on what I am still so imperfect at and how it has to be worked on for the benefit of the work He has beckoned me to?

So much for the quick jaunt into ministry, going on some six years with no visible 'advancement' into His purpose for me…….

Rather than asking what I have become, I think I should be asking what have I done with what's been given to me……..

Have I raised sword and shield to defend those fallen upon the battlefield of this fight or have I given ground because of the arrayed forces against me?

God has been moving overwhelmingly in my life these past six and a half years……shaping, molding and even sorrowing when I shake my head in refusal to where He knows I have to journey……He has held me by the hand, sent others who have journeyed beside me and let go of me when I have released my grip upon Him…..for even in His righteousness and wisdom, He will not have me unwilling but is content to wait in sorrowful silence for my realization of His goodness and promised provision.

I have drunk deep of the waters that sake my thirst……..

Only to become thirsty again.

What is my life to mean? Is it to be a constant battle to fight for the recognition that God has given and touched me with an anointing to be a pastor of men? A teacher of the faithful? Is it to be a constant worry about financial concerns, limited means and unemployment? Is it to be a constant win-lose-win again situation, two steps forward and three steps back?

If that is the method to which I am being 'fertilized' for the blessing of being that recognition, that testimony or that impus to change in someone else's life… God has intended……then I trust that I live it in a manner that worships God louder in the howling winds, praises His mercy deeper in the wounding hail, and brings glory that shines brighter in the darkness of another's life in the clouds of the tempest.

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to the stars and birds, to babies and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony." William Henry Channing, 1819-1884, transcendentalist and Christian socialism preacher.

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