Tuesday, April 12

Cuckoo for Christ

“[Jesus said] “The One who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, because I always do what pleases Him."” John 8: 29 HCSB

It always comes back to the example set by Christ for those of us who are compelled by the evidence and the convictions of our lives to reevaluate and rediscover the tenants of our faith, the rock of our belief and the reasoning/logic behind the realizations that drive us to great dangers, perils, toils and snares because of who He is and what He calls us to do. We don’t always have to ‘like’ the answer that comes to us in these quiet ‘campfire’ moments off the trail in the dark night of our fears.

We don’t have to always be satisfied but we do have to understand why we are where we are and what is our motivation to rise in the coming morning, don our backpacks and pick up our walking sticks and step back onto the path that is leading us home.

Because we will meet those who question our right to be on the path, those who wonder about our direction and those who squat on the sides of the path in the squalor and filth of this world and jeer at us. Sometimes, they’re not off the path but on it.

This verse hit me hard these last few weeks as I have thrown down the backpack of my calling and hunkered down in the middle of the path in, to put it politely, a temper tantrum.

In the last seven years since I received my calling to the ministry, I have met with one demand for my obedience after another from those in authority over me. I have stepped into some of those demands to find them as empty as the reasoning behind the demands in the first place and others where it didn’t feel the right thing to do, the right direction that God was leading me to do.

I have begged and pleaded for discipleship and be left wanting in some places, challenged in others and always…..always left with the feeling that it wasn’t to shape me to a purpose I’ve seen but rather to be fitted into the round hole even though I am very square…pun intended. There have been very few Barnabas' and even few Pauls in my life.

To be a pastor, I am told, I have to be a leader. In every aspect of my life, above reproach and without blame. And then I am directed on how and where I should lead.

To be a part-time, full-time or any time minister, I am told I have to be on a staff of a church and then I am told that I am ‘not quite the person for a staff position.’

Every time I think I'm heading in the right direction, the path either abruptly ends or fades into the jungle, marsh or forest that surrounds it.

It has lead me to believe that maybe I’ve gotten it all wrong and therefore have wasted seven more years of a life already destroyed by my own ambitions, hatreds and missteps by the foolishness of my own delusions of grandeur.

Why would God put this drive, this passion and this energy in me to be constantly in motion to its realization if it wasn’t what He called me to do? Why would the greatest moments where I feel Him with me, relish in His pleasure and joy in me and be the closest to Him in the most uncomfortable place I could go if it wasn’t for His purpose to which I was formed, known and set aside for? Why am I such a challenge; not only to myself and my destructive self-image but to those who ‘are helping’ me along the journey…..at least, in the direction they feel that I should be going. Some with intentional malice or fear and others with the simple desire to be accountable and correct in their mentorship. Why, for the last seven years, have I never been comfortable? And always driven outside my protective zone into a place or places where I know I’ll be hurt, discouraged and handicapped by the ‘examination of your life in directional relationship with how God operates.’

A seven year journey of exposing my limitations, my motivations and my prideful sinfulness that are never fully His....but grow more and more obedient to His as I've journeyed.

We wonder why people think we’re hypocrites and foolish. It ain’t just a verse in the Bible.

It always leads back to the example that Christ set for us in the simple three years He was in ministry on this earth. Three years that have left an impact, a direction and the standards to which we, both as believers and the body of Christ (the Church), should be pounding into our heads, hearts and minds far beyond the ‘business’ models we have adopted in the sake of expediency.

To be honest, this ‘yoke is easy’ and ‘burden is light’ mantra of the Christian faith has never been something I’ve truly believed in because of the way this ‘born-again’ life has been. I was better in the immediate being ‘fat, dumb and stupid’ in my dealings with the world and this religion of Christianity. Yeah, I was dying….already dead in my sinfulness, but at least I was able to ‘numb’ the pain of its haunting reminder. I was foolish, reckless and intentionally dangerous….all in an effort to make this ‘God’ realize the mistake He had made in making me. And I was successful, even though I didn’t have to do all that stuff I did to make Him turn my way. He was already at the door, waiting for me to open up.

It is why this verse hits me so deeply…..completely in context and without alteration. Because Christ was who He was meant to be, both fully-human and fully-God, and living in the highest level of connection with the Father God. He wasn’t apologizing for His life or where He came from in relation to the human aspect of His identity but rather pointing to the effectiveness of what He did; His Father’s will.

How often does that drive our motivations, our conversations and our decisions? To the degree that we are crucified on our cross of someone else’s confidence we are insane? To the degree that we drive ourselves crazy with frustration, with battering ourselves against the walls of our cells in the prisons of this world and come back to the same convicting vision of what God has called us to be?

Alot of us claim to have 'God's purpose and love' written on our hearts and we default to our own protective natures, running business models and the American dream in our lives that are contrary to God's vision simply because 'the alternative is scary and makes us uncomfortable.' The yoke is easy, the burden light.......

It drove every aspect of Christ’s life. He needed that connection with the Father to get through the day and never strayed from the direction He was given to go…..even when He asked for the cup to pass from His lips.

Someone told me on the bus last night a profound truth that makes me wonder at its simplicity. “They don’t know what to do with you.”

And for once in my life, since I’ve been reborn, I have to admit that I don’t know what to do with myself anymore either. Maybe I’m just supposed to encourage and motivate others from where I am (which I have been doing and will always continue to do) and therefore fulfill the ‘demand’ that I be a leader to be ‘greater things.’

Maybe in the moments and minutes where I am given the honor of speaking God’s word into the lives of those who have come to listen, the treasure of the moments with God are the warmth of the fires that keep me in the dead of the cold nights upon this path and nothing more.

Maybe the talents I have been given, my testimony, are merely to be recklessly and intentionally spent in the quiet opportunities before others to speak of what I was and who I am now and then quietly fade into the background noise of this world as others who have been more purposely equipped and have better ‘foundational’ bases from which to launch can step into those moments after and carry the baton further for the kingdom.

If that is the case, then fine. Let me be crazy for those moments that come and frustrated in the hours that follow them. Let me continue to express the words that drive others to question and ultimately find their answers in the Bible as lead by the Holy Spirit and convicted by the Law to a redeeming Gospel.

In those moments where the fire is dying down and the coldness of the winter creeps into my awareness as I lay my head down for some rest, when I cry out to God with the whys and the why nots, I will trust that my last thought before sleep claims me is simply that it is His will that is to be done and not mine.

It is His kingdom I work for and not some glory of my own that is fleeting. It is because of my love, my desire and my passion for a God who sent His only begotten Son to pay the price on my sinful head that I drive myself crazy with frustrations and delusions of great works He has purposed me to. That even as I cry out for this to be removed from me that I pick it up in obedience to Him and continue on.

Because I want to do what is pleasing to the One who sent me on this journey in the first place.

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