Can I enjoy mystery, adventure and not dictating an agenda or destination?
Ruth Haley Barton paints an enticing but also downright scary view of the Christian life.
“The journey of transformation requires some measure of willingness to relinquish control and give ourselves over to a process we cannot fully understand nor can we predict the outcome. If we are not comfortable with mystery, we are not comfortable with the very gospel we preach. We know we will be more like Christ but we cannot predict exactly what the person of Christ lived in and through us will look like or where it will take us.”
In the past 6 months I have moved to a new place in my spiritual life. I am showing up each morning as Jesus’ friend and his servant. I trust him to have the schedule for the day. I may have my plans and to-do list — but I am holding them much more loosely. And the joy, peace and surprises are delightful.
The hardest part is when people ask me for my plan; my goal; what I am going to do with my life. I thought when I got to 60 I would have all of those questions answered and instead I am discovering it is better to write everything in pencil and keep a finger posed over the “delete” key as Jesus whispers for me to change my course.
I was recently reading SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP AND PRACTICE OF PAYING ATTENTION by Ruth Haley Barton. In this short article the Spirit of God seemed to highlight the words below that my heart needed. Enjoy
Learning to pay attention and knowing what to pay attention to is a key discipline for leaders, but one that rarely comes naturally to those of us who are barreling through life so fast with our eyes fixed on the goal. One of the down sides of visionary leadership is that we can get our sights set on something that is so far out in the future that we miss what’s going on in our lives as it exists now. We are blind to the bush that is burning in our own back yard and the wisdom that is contained within it. We squander the gift of this day just as it is, these people just as they are, the uniqueness and the sweetness (even the bitter sweetness) of this particular place on the journey just as it is, the voice of God calling to us in our own wilderness places.
All of us have burning bushes in our lives, places that shimmer with grace, alerting us to the possibility that God is at work doing something we could not have predicted.
About 6 month ago, a dear friend and mentor, Dr. Steve Sweatman, took a photo of this prayer he was using as a bookmark. It was relevant to a life transition Pandora and I are navigating. Enjoy.
A PRAYER FOR GUIDANCE author unknown
My Lord God I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does, in fact, please you, and I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore, I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear for you are every with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Notice Paul’s perspective on his ministry from 1 Cor 3.
5What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it.
Paul sees himself as a servant of Jesus who appeared to him on the road.
As a servant his daily responsibility revolves around carrying out his assignments that Jesus gives.
In Paul’s case he is the foundation builder. Others, like Apollos, built on the work he started.
Paul saw the importance of being on a team. He did seek to do everything needed for a church to be vibrant and multiplying.
And the core central truth that kept Paul going is that it is God who gives the growth.
So, how does this help shape your perspective of each morning that you rise as a servant of King Jesus?
Join me in a prayer to launch each day with anticipation and trust in the ever present God.
Good Morning God.
Thank you Spirit of God for being in me and for working all through the night.
Forgive me for all of my sins through Jesus so I can start fresh & clean this day.
From long ago, my table & cup was set perfectly for today. You carefully allowed all my interruptions, events, delays and health for today. Help me to receive it with joy. I know it’s for your greater good and for my sanctification.
I recognize this day that my body is a Temple of your Spirit. Welcome.
I engage the Spirit of God’s thoughts, love, presence & power into all of my thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons and situations so I can be obedient to you in them. As a result, I expect to outflow God’s supernatural actions in all the little & big things of this day.
As you powerfully work through my life, help me to take credit like that of a mailman for the delivery of your many ‘wins & trophies’ that unfold today. Help me properly reflect the source of the ‘gifts’ which is you as I deliver them. Please help me to do this well.
In Jesus’ name I can pray boldly to my heavenly Father, even when I feel unworthy or physically don’t feel like it. Amen.
“Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.”
A number of years ago, I was asked by a good friend: “Why do so many Christians make such lousy human beings?” She shared how she had grown tired of the judgmentalism, the defensiveness, the superficiality, and the lack of self-awareness of many in church.
Bill Hull summarizes the problem well: “We evangelicals accept and even encourage a two-level Christian experience in which serious Christians pursue and practice discipleship, while grace and forgiveness are for everyone else.”
Why do we offer two levels of Christianity? Why make becoming a disciple where every aspect of our life is being brought under the rule of Jesus and all of our life is being a servant like our King?
Is the American church breeding nominalism? Are we reaping what we have sown?
Paul needed encouragement. He needed his hope replenished. He needed to endure and be bold and steadfast. God assured him that he was already working in Corinth.
Acts 18:9-10 — for (1) I am with you, and (2) no one will attack you to harm you, (3)for I have many in this city who are my people.’
God has you in a strategic place where he is already working. TAKE HEART. Live in hope that God has his people and is using you to bring them into the family of God.