We had a guest speaker on Sunday. Mr. Shannon O’Dell. Pretty incredible story. You can look him up if you want. Nevermind. I did it for you. Just click here. He spoke in his sermon about the kingdom principle that if you move, God moves with you. His point was grounded in the story found in Mark 6 right after the feeding of the five thousand. You know that minor detail of him walking on water. But Shannon focused on a little phrase that might easily be overlooked. “He was about to pass them by.” Gulp.
And wouldn’t you know, that is one of my biggest fears. That through the struggle of perfectionism, fear itself, or just plain selfishness & disobedience I will be paralyzed and miss the call of God to move. That I will live a life of insignificance for his kingdom. And in that I will not love him or others well. And because of my inaction, he will pass me by. Please, Lord, please don’t pass me by. As Jennie Allen says in Anything, “I am crazy screwed up. And my only hope is my Jesus.”
Now the rest of his sermon was really good. And evidently Steven left feeling pretty beat up. In the best way possible. Challenged to move in some areas he had been neglecting. And I was so happy for the insight he was given and the action he planned to take. Not out of guilt or an attempt to earn God’s love, but out of allegiance to his Savior. But it wasn’t until we got to community group later that evening, that I really wanted the ground to open up and swallow me (kinda how he felt during church).
We were having pretty good discussion with quite a bit of participation from different members. Up until the moment when the leader posed this question, “Would someone be willing to share a time when you moved and God moved with you?” Silence. All eyes on the carpet in front of them. Including me. Oh, wait. I take that back. One woman shared a wonderful God story of a simple act of obedience that God used to accomplish amazing things in the lives of her neighbor, some friends of her neighbor, and of course herself. It was beautiful. And full of the glory of God. Then the silence came. And the crickets. And their chirping was an indictment on our faith. Or lack thereof.
And how does that happen? How does a living room full of professing Christians not fall over each other trying to tell of the impossible feats being accomplished for the kingdom through their imperfect lives? How do we not enter our time together speaking the praises of the One who is high and lifted up, seated on the throne and telling stories of his greatness? Testifying to the truth that when we move, he moves. Like a mighty rushing wind so fierce that it cannot be contained. Nor would we want to because it is the very life in our breath. How?
Perhaps it is because we do not really know the God in whom we profess to believe. Oh, we know plenty about him. We’ve read all the stories, right? But do we truly know him?
As Tozer states, the church’s “conception of God is unworthy of Him. Our religion is little because our god is little. Our religion is weak because our god is weak. Our religion is ignoble because the god we serve is ignoble. We do not see God as He is… A local church will only be as great as its conception of God. An individual Christian will be a success or a failure depending upon what he or she thinks of God. It is critically important that we have a knowledge of the Holy One, that we know what God is like.”
And then, as Jennie says, “…to live based on what we believe” (p. 47).
And I can’t help but wonder what has taken the place of our knowledge of the Holy One? And our devotion to him? What does my life say that I believe?
Jennie goes on, “…I feel myself caring much more about what stroller to buy than about heaven. Religion, church and Bible study were all in place – but truly surrendered lives, the kind God could use anywhere and in any way he chose, had quickly turned into planned and calculated lives that focused on things like saving for a Suburban or minivan. Couldn’t I have both? More of God and the life I wanted?” (p. 42-43).
Chasing the American dream has replaced our worship & pursuit of God.
Jennie again, “I was on my way to the dream, but I felt the numb God-distance creeping in like a cancer” (p. 43).
And she borrowed the desires right out of my heart when she shared this story:
“As my friend Aimee and I pushed our strollers outside my safe comfy house, she was feeling discontent with a life spent pining for the perfect school and cute house in a safe neighborhood. She wanted more. She wanted to tell God she would give it all up for him, for any life he had for her, rather than fighting for the normal one she’d wanted. At the time she had no picture of what it would be…just a prayer asking God to be God and her promise she would follow…
What if heaven and God and forever became our normal?” (p. 49).
What if we served a King and not a cause?
What if we moved closer to God, so he would move closer to us?
What if we moved in obedience (no matter how big or small), so he could move in his awesome power?
Now. Not back in college. Not last year. Not yesterday. Not when the kids start school. Not when they finally graduate. Not when we retire. Not next week, but now.
As Brennan Manning writes in The Ragamuffin Gospel, “Whatever we have done in the past, be it good or evil, great or small, is irrelevant to our stance before God today. It is only now that are in the presence of God” (p. 54).
May we move into His presence and through His power. Today. And everyday. Until the end.
Will I? Will you?
(I think I might start with not yelling at my children. Told you it could be small. Or in my case that might be big).