Random Blog Clay Feet: January 12, 2009
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Monday, January 12, 2009

Growing Urgency

There is a reason that I may or may not be posting less for awhile, but it is not because I am meditating less or even writing less necessarily. For the past few weeks I have felt a growing sense of urgency that does not seem to originate with myself that I need to spend some time developing and organizing my thoughts and collections of insights from the past along with some serious Bible research on various topics into a form that can be presented in a more public forum. Some people might call that a “sermon” but I feel rather resistant to using that word since it carries too many unspoken expectations with it. In my mind, and I suspect in the minds of many others, a sermon has certain characteristics and formats that are expected to happen at certain times and places. I feel that we have so restricted our expectations and limited those who have things to share with us in this way that we restrict greatly the ministry of the Holy Spirit among us.

Be that as it may, I cannot shake off the feeling that sometime soon, and quite possibly very suddenly when it happens, I am going to be asked or maybe even urged, to share some of the things with others that I have been learning from my personal time with God and in His Word. When that time comes it very well may be too late to do the preparation for those presentations and so I feel this constant urgency to spend more time when I have it reviewing my collections of notes while listening carefully to the guidance and promptings of the Holy Spirit to know what direction I should move first. And most importantly I want to be extremely cautious to try to keep out of my presentations every trace of my own agenda that is tied to a spirit of bitterness or criticism.

I have seen far too many examples of the results of those who have a great sense of urgency about their favorite topics, who are quick to press themselves into the public spotlight and to strongly present their ideas, but with a spirit that is not in harmony with the Spirit of Jesus that I have learning about from God. I have become painfully aware of my own very deep infection with the spirit of criticism that goes back for several generations in my own heritage and that I have struggled against for some time now. I am extremely vulnerable to slipping into this state of mind at any time and have to be very guarded, sensitive and ready to obey the promptings of the Spirit to realize when it is starting to creep into my words and attitude. This is especially easy when my emotions become animated as I share about the things I have been learning over the past few years.

There may be nothing more neutralizing to the effectiveness of God's messages to others than to mix a false spirit in with presentations of otherwise wonderful truth. I see it happen all the time and unfortunately I also fall into that trap myself all too often. But I am growing and learning and maturing and making mistakes just like everyone else. That is not to excuse my mistakes but to remind me that I need grace and forgiveness at least as much as the next person if not more.

God has been sharing some things with my mind and heart that I find so different from the mainstream of accepted Christian teachings that I feel very isolated and vulnerable to intense attack by teachers and professors who would be ready to scorn and deride me into oblivion if they heard what I have been thinking. But then I have to remind myself again that my identity and value is not to be derived in the slightest from what other people think about me but is to come unequivocally and exclusively from God alone.

In essence, what God is asking me – no, requiring me to do, is to put into practice all the things He has been teaching and revealing to me over the past few years. It is not enough to just learn about radical principles of truth and deeper insights into the reality of what God is like, I must be willing to bet my whole life, reputation and even eternal destiny on what I have been instructed and privileged to learn recently. Now I am starting to sense that the time is nearing when I not only have to keep listening very carefully to the still small voice that has been tutoring me for some time now, but that I will be asked to shout from the housetops what I have been learning in secret, as Jesus phrased it.

This is actually quite frightening for me since in some respects I am a very withdrawn personality when it comes to public speaking. It has become much easier for me to share my thoughts in writing in this venue here primarily because there is such a small audience to start with and secondly because I cannot see anyone who might read what I am writing. In addition because I get very little feedback there is not much cause for fear of attacks or arguments or resistance of any kind.

I can remember when I was quite young my father taking me with him to a presentation that he did in his line of work. He was in sales for much of his life and then for a number of years was into solicitation for an organization that provided services for the blind. It was a very good cause and I have never had reservations about what he was doing, but the methods and sales skills that he used when talking with others made me feel so extremely uncomfortable that I couldn't wait to get back home. That is not to say in the slightest that what he was doing was unethical. The problem was not with what he was doing but was with my own deep fear of offending people or even pressuring them to do something that they at first were not interested in doing.

Later I realized that it was much more a matter of differences in personalities than anything else. My dad had had to support a large family for many years with very little education. He had to struggle all his life with low self-esteem and lived in a culture that was very performance oriented. Thus he was forced to push himself very hard to become successful in sales just to earn enough money to put five children through church school in days not long after the Great Depression. He had developed skills that were likely way out of his comfort zone at first because he simply had little other choice. But for me with my timid personality and fear of public speaking, to even entertain the thought of trying to follow in his footsteps in sales was simply unimaginable – and that was settled quite firmly by that one experience watching him do the typical sales pitch to a business club to raise funds for his organization.

In retrospect I have come to admire the great efforts of my dad to push himself far beyond what felt comfortable. He had to overcome far greater difficulties than I have ever had to face growing up and he did the best he could with what little he had. I would do well to learn many lessons of perseverance and courage from his example. I know that I have said many hard things about him over the years because of the deep emotional wounds that I carried for much of my life. It was necessary for me to face those issues, to recognize their source and to be honest about them in order to make myself available for healing. But as those past wounds and memories become restored to wholeness and peace through healing encounters with God at different intense points in my life, I find myself coming closer to being ready to take my own place to share with others my own experience and insights.

I still feel a great deal of internal resistance to seeing myself as one in a position of teaching others, particularly in public presentations. I do enjoy very much small group venues where people are interested in exploring the Word – I can't get enough of that. But public speaking is a whole different ball game. I am not sure where it is coming from but I always feel a sense of hypocrisy associated with talking about spiritual insights that God has been blessing me with for so long. I know it may not sound logical, but I suppose it goes back to my fear of being shamed by others who have far more education or recognition from the systems of this world and the church. Somehow it all comes back to my temptations to see myself based on what others think of me instead of resting in my identity in Christ.

Well, I didn't plan on writing all of this just to say one thing, but then again it doesn't surprise me. Most of the time when I sit down to write out what I am feeling it just ends up growing immensely before I can wrap it up. I seldom know where it is even going to go until I am finished. I don't know if that is a bad thing or a good thing. Some might say I should be more intentional and others would insist that I should remain free to be guided by the Spirit. I tend to lean toward the latter opinion.

I have been jotting down in a file on my computer over the past few months different subjects or “sermon titles” (I still squirm to even use that word) that sometimes come to my mind rather forcefully. When the list of titles grew to several pages long I then suddenly felt the impression that I needed to get more serious about developing at least some of them more fully so they will be at least close to being usable on short notice. A few days ago I put each one of them into a separate file in a folder all together which has been very helpful. Because of this I can now open a subject related to some thoughts that may impress themselves on me and quickly put them into the related subject for further organization as I have time.

I am praying continually that God will impress and guide me to know which of these subjects should be highest priority to work on first before the others. I do not want to just choose my own favorite topics when I believe that God has His own agenda as to what others may need to hear the most that I have no knowledge about. I am coming to believe and want to incorporate more into my life the awareness that God is doing something very important around me in my church, in my community, in my world. Instead of me coming up with great plans to work for God and then asking God to empower and bless me in my plans for Him, I just think it makes a lot more sense to spend more effort and time listening and praying and observing and trying to know what it is that God is up to and then asking Him how He wants to use me to assist in furthering His plans.

I just figure that if God initiates the plans and then I just come alongside Him to be used in any way He needs and wants for me; if I give preference to what He wants to do instead of trying to come up with my own projects, that His plans have a far greater chance of making a real difference in people's lives and hearts than my plans will ever be able to do. That idea just makes a great deal more sense to me. Now, if I can just tune in accurately enough to hear His voice against all the distractions and diversions of the counterfeits...

One more thing I have determined to do in relation to this urgent feeling of getting ready for I know not what. I have decided and feel impressed that it is the right decision, to not volunteer myself or push myself into trying to create opportunities to present what I have been learning. Again, it goes along with not trying to come up with my own plans in place of letting God work out His ideas. God's plans very often seem to be more delayed than our plans and often challenge our patience. But then, our patience is challenged often because we think God should be in more of a hurry like we tend to be. But I am convinced that those who wait on the Lord will be the ones who come out more satisfied in the end and have a closer connection with the heart of God.

That is the number one thing that I crave and seek after most.

I want to know God's heart, to come into sympathy with His feelings, to learn His methods and to see those around me from His perspective instead of my own.

I want to be more and more filled with His passionate love that is so lacking in me at this point.

I want to know the authentic experience of real holiness, not the counterfeit piety that is so common assumed by established religions.

I want to be totally and radically connected to God to be His conduit of grace and truth and beauty so that others will be irresistibly drawn to His overwhelming attractions.