Thursday, June 15, 2006

Father... More Than Average...

O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us the work that You did in their days, in the days of old ... For by their own sword they did not possess the land, & their own arm did not save them; but Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence, for You favored them ... I will not trust in my bow, nor will my sword save me ... Arouse Yourself ... Awake, do not reject us forever ... For our soul has sunk down into the dust; our body cleaves to the earth. Rise up, be our help, & redeem us for the sake of Your lovingkindness. (Psalm 44, portions)

Last night I dreamed the work at this church was judged only average. It is what I often feel. Only average. What is this, Lord? Would you explain it to me?

I have cast myself on You as best as I know how in this ministry. I have struggled against sin & worked hard & prayed constantly & fed my soul on Your word! I have rallied the team & counseled the broken & worked to equip leaders! I have preached as well as I am able, planned as thoroughly as time allows, & set prayer as my first thing over all. And yet, here we are a year later... only average.

I know, Father: It's been only a year. You're only interim & a commuting pastor, at that. It's small-church ministry with decades of conditioning. It's an elderly group in a changing demographic. On & on the voices go; & yet, am I not Your warrior, Lord? Am I not Your chosen one for this place & time? Have You not laid this path before my feet? It is not as though I or these have forgotten You. Do they not pray? Do they not long for more of You?

Please, O Lord, open the floodgates of Your blessing upon this congregation & upon the community that surrounds it! Please, God of my strength, pour Your Holy Spirit out in us with great power! Please, Shepherd of all my ways, lead us to miraculous success that proclaims the greatness of You, the God who blesses the humble! I do not trust in my own devices, Lord. You alone can turn the hearts of people. Do please turn them!

How my desire brims within me! My God, my God! Overlook my many transgressions! Honor the prayers of the humble! Those of us who see with the imagination of our spirits call upon You! You are the God who took Joseph from slavery to a place of honor & authority! You are the God who delivered Israel from Egypt through miraculous signs. You are the God of Abraham & Moses & Joshua & Gideon! You are the God who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem through Nehemiah! Please be that God to me, Father!

I call You Father because I am Your son. You have adopted me & given me a place in Your courts. I approach as a son to his kingly Father. I ask for Your kingdom to rise up here! I ask for 200 transformed community members before next summer! These are the days of Your miraculous hand! Do not let me be ashamed, Lord!


Ordinary Radical said...

Amen brother. Praise God for your heart; passion.

BAB said...

Johnny, what would more than average look like? Who's to judge average? I know the feeling, but is it the truth?

John Lynch said...

I hear your word, brother... & I am grateful for your loving caution.

I constantly ask the Lord to "search me ... know my heart ... try me ... & see if there be any hurtful way in me..." & I think most of what I feel is a God-honoring discontent with anything less than radical healing & growth in & thru His saints - both in depth & breadth.

A.W. Tozer said "The average Christian is so cold and contented with his wretched condition that there is no vacuum of desire into which the blessed Spirit can rush in satisfying fullness." I believe that vacuum of desire is a passion for what is more than natural... for what is supernatural.

Parted seas, pillars of fire, manna from heaven, impossible victories, incarnation, resurrections, tongues of fire, healed hearts, zealous hearts, missional hearts, reformation, persecution, courageous love, unshackled testimonies ... that's the above-average life God has given in the past & I long for this community to embrace once again. I desperately desire for us, corporately, to rediscover the mystical, powerful, beautiful, coherent, connected, communal Spirit of God we have learned to overlook.

I hope it's my spirit joining with God's Spirit that moves with such an overwhelming current to declare a recognition of the average & desire for more. Do you feel differently? Your loving encouragement seems to indicate caution against something... perhaps self-willed risks & disappointment? I hope that's not what my heart is feeding on. I don't believe it is.

How do you identify average church-life & how do you feel about it?

BAB said...

I totally agree with your discontentment. We are a people who live between the times and so we ought very much to yearn for what has been promised. My caution is only that sometimes God is in the simple and quite things. I think of God encountering Elijah - not in the fire and wind - but in the silence. I think of Paul encouraging slaves to do their slave work with joy for the Lord.

So I commend your discontentment and encourage you to continue to seek radical transformation. I only say to be open to the possibility that God may be in much simpler and quiet things.