We have just finished our season of prayer entitled “God’s dream for us”. In inclining our ear to listen to the Holy Spirit and to each other a few things became recurring themes.
We play it far too safe
The verse that came out was Deuteronomy 1:
The Lord our God spoke to us in Horeb saying “You have dwelt long enough at this mountain. Turn and take your journey, and go……go in and possess the land.
It’s quite clear to me from speaking to many different people that we have become far too comfortable with programmes, meetings and events. We stay within the confines of what we think we can actually do and accomplish. This is human nature. In fact if left to our own devices human beings will pretty much always revert back to the way of least resistance and most comfort. We do this subconsciously because our survival instinct intrinsically wants us to avoid any pain and discomfort within our lives.
Sadly though, the ways of God are not about what is comfortable or safe, but instead what is unknown and risky. Take a look at the heroes of faith and you won’t see them operating in comfort or avoiding pain or suffering. Instead you will see them take steps of faith, trusting in the God who speaks and they know, in spite of their distresses, anxiety, fears, failures, obstacles, shipwrecks and challenges!
When we as a body are crying out for God to ‘come’, I believe God wants to meet with us at the intersection of faith. Where we see his outstretched hand and reach up our hand to place it into His. If we want to see things happen that are truly supernatural then we MUST venture beyond what WE can do, what WE can take care of, what WE can muster, what WE can afford. After all, why would we need God’s supernatural power or resources to accomplish the things we ourselves can do??
We are playing it safe. We operate in a realm that does not demand or require any of us to take a step of faith into the unknown and trust God, and we are in deep spiritual poverty, boredom, frustration, apathy and dare I say it, “pain” because of it!
So what must we do?
We Must Go…
If we are to recover genuine excitement in following God. If we want to recover genuine testimony of God’s works and ways in our lives. If we want to look beyond frustration and fear, we must set our faces as flint, take hold of God’s hand and go on a faith venture wherever God may take us.
We must move beyond the culture of information transfer. What I mean by that is that I see our predominant culture within our church (in fact western church as a whole) as meetings where we are taught and encouraged (you might call this being fed). However, most of us have heard pretty much everything we could possibly need to hear in a sermon over the years. What use is it unless we are prepared to take what we have learned and actually ‘mix it with faith’. To continue the eating metaphor, we have become fat and lazy. We do no ‘faith’ exercise and are in terrible shape as a result.
If we are to get into shape, we need to go on a faith trip. In fact, we need to go on many faith trips. Individually, as small groups and as a fellowship. We need to “Exercise” our faith and grow in strength and responsiveness as we listen to and follow the Holy Spirit.
When I took up cycling, I was in terrible shape and rarely did any kind of exercise. After committing to doing a coast to coast across the north of England I went on a training ride with guys from the church. We did 28 miles. The first few felt easy. By mile 10 I was beginning to ache a bit. By mile 20 I was in pain and wheezed, puffed and panted like a dog in the heat of summer. By the time I got home I felt like I was going to die. I was utterly exhausted, ravenously hungry, and my muscles and lungs were begging for mercy. My body was spent, but my soul was exhilarated! After 6 months or so of regular training and disciplined eating I was riding from the west coast to the east coast of England. The following year I did my first 100 mile ride. What was once difficult is now easy. Anything less than 30 miles I consider a leisure ride!
So it must be in the realm of faith. We need to have the courage once again to engage with the Spirit of God and exercise our faith until we too are built up to do greater and greater exploits responding to His will and direction. I’m betting that we will feel exhilarated in our soul and in our spirit as a result!
A life of testimony
I’m looking forward to how church changes and adapts to these faith ventures God sets us. I’m mostly looking forward to living within a community of people that has a life filled once again with testimony.
Let faith arise. Let love be it’s motive. Let hope be our vision and joy be our strength. Amen.