It has been a while since I have written a blog of any sort, well, for that matter, any sort of real thought, most of my facebook or even twitter posts have been nothing but reposts/retweets. I’m not hearing anything any more. I’m distracted easily. I have nothing fresh, especially when I look into scripture for me personally or any sort of attempt for a sermon message. When I am trying to teach my kids the scriptures, I may as well be speaking Russian, because my words make that much sense. While I know these aren’t completely true and a bit of an exaggeration, they are not far off. I appreciate that the scriptures talk about seasons, or I would be worried. I have too much noise in my head, and not enough feeling, emotion, or compassion in my heart. This is not a feel sorry for me blog – by all measurable standards, ministry is going great; I have a wonderful home and family; and all in all it is good, yet there is something missing. The truth is, that it’s a very scary place to be, when everything else around you is going great, but you know internally things are becoming more shallow. I’m not sure what it is, but I am almost 100% positive that it comes from my lack of prayer, focused thought, and meditation, which I have sacrificed on the alter of “doing” – I am Martha, and am angry with Mary.
God, for a while was really talking to me about how much I need to make EVERYTHING I do take a back seat to prayer, meditation, and word – I am constantly disobeying him in this area more than any other time in my life. I have the same mindset of Israel, “appoint for us a ‘king’ to govern us, like other ‘nations’…” I am having a hard time relying on God as king, as life, as giver, as identity. Each day I wake up and make other kings the lord over my days, decisions, and time is another day I wake up and ‘reject’ God’s kingship. It is almost as if God has said, “I have nothing new or fresh to say to you until you reestablish me as king over your identity, value, and time by dethroning everything else.” One of the things God is doing, as he did to Israel through Samuel, is using another voice to speak to me. I am being convicted through the words of Eugene Peterson, in his much less popular works: The Contemplative Pastor, Working the Angels, and Under the Unpredictable Plant – I am convinced that we, especially church leaders, have to constantly be moving, so that we don’t slow down enough to hear the convicting words God has to say to and about us. We, like the mega-seeker-prosperiety leaders before us, hide our need to move behind very spiritual ideas like: being part of a movement, kingdom movement, etc, etc; when God is saying, “slow down, and know me“.
I am not writing this to complain, rather to be transparent. I know I am not alone in these rocky patches in our journeys – we all go through them. The question is why? First, let me establish one thing – I believe we go through these as a means of grace. That’s right, grace. But grace, much like the gift of pain. Without pain, we wouldn’t know to move our hand from a hot surface, which would lead to serious damage, probably infection, and even the loss of a limb (the examples are plenty) – and while pain is not fun nor does it feel good, it often times saves us. I think we go through these unCLEAR seasons, because at some point we break rhythm, we become doers, because we have realized we are naked, and in an attempt to hide our own nakedness through our own ability, we put fig leaves on, to cover up what’s missing, through all we do. But through this, if God were to allow us to feel deep satisfaction, lasting importance, deep clarity, it would, after all, cause us to continually settle for the fig leaves. But in God’s grace, he, in a way removes his grace, his filling presence, and shows us how insignificant our attempts are, so that in our “success”, in our accomplishments, in our advancements, as we are becoming known for who we are, we are still left very empty. I believe God will allow this to become such a reality, to the point that we have no choice but to begin to cut away some of the good things we find our identity in, reestablish that identity and start to find that rhythm again – there is no better time to start refinding your rhythm, than now… why not use the season of LENT (a forty day sacrifice) to regain your footing.
So, what to do this season of LENT:
- GUIDE: I’d pick something or a combination of somethings to follow through LENT
- GIVE-UP:Find a few things to sacrifice. Often times we reduce this to tangibles (coffee, shoes, etc, etc), which are well and good, but don’t just randomly pick some tangibles that you love and then give them up…look for the intangible meanings in the tangibles and let that be the guide to what you give up. Here are some questions to guide that:
- What tangible thing/action do you find you use as self-promotion (intangible), that replaces your trust in God – give up that thing
- What tangible thing/action do you find your identity (intangible) in, and causes you not to look to God – give that up
- What tangible thing/action do you get your value (intangible) from, and causes you not to look to God – give that up
- What tangible thing/action do you do that makes you feel important or fulfilled, and causes you not to look to God – give that up
- COMMIT: Don’t just go through the motions – do it, commit, take time to really pray and meditate…
- REFLECT: Don’t assume you will pick these things up at the end of these next 40 days – what if the best thing you can do is never pick them up again! Spend some time reflecting on the idea that God may not want you to pick these back up again.