God has an interesting gardening process. At the beginning of this year I was seeking new growth opportunities for my spiritual life. MY intention was to plug into a new small group and go deeper. As I investigated for my own purposes, God revealed to me a need some other people had. So I asked questions.
One thing led to another and now I find myself digging into my Bible and into my faith in preparation of leading others. Leading is not something I would have ever sought to do on my own. But as I dig in I am energized and excited. I have learned more about the Bible and gained a new understanding of different parts.
Translation: I’m growing. And passionate.
There is a lot to consider in this process though.
#1. I had to seek. If we aren’t looking for growth, there’s a good chance growth won’t happen. I think many times we become content with where we are in our faith and we decide for ourselves that we are done. That’s enough God. I’m happy and comfortable and You and I are good with our whole, “I confess; You forgive” relationship so let’s just leave it there. I’ll do all the other work on my own and You can bless it for what it is and we’ll just be ok. But then we wonder why our faith becomes dry and boring and our worship becomes stale and empty. And we have the temerity to say God gave up on us.
I worked at a summer camp through my teen years as a camp counselor and in the then dining hall there was a large wooden plank on the wall that read, “If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved.” I would add, “Or didn’t keep up.” God promised that if we seek Him, He will be found.
I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me.
#2. I had to answer the right person. In a world where many people and “things” clamor for our attention, it is incredibly easy to answer the wrong question, call, or person. There are a ton of opportunities to serve in many different areas and many different ways. They are all good! But they aren’t all right.
I urge you to take a minute and read the account of Samuel’s call in 1 Samuel 3. Three times God called young Samuel and each time Samuel went to Eli because he didn’t understand who was calling him. Finally Eli got it and told Samuel Who he really needed to answer. So many times we don’t recognize Who is calling us because like Samuel, we “don’t yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him” (v. 7). We have to study God’s word to know Him and we have to learn to recognize Him when He calls. Sometimes that means asking questions of other people.
Finally, #3. I had to make myself willing to act. Please note: that is not a language error – I had to MAKE myself willing. I don’t like leading people. I would much rather be a minion making the wheels work behind the scenes. But the call God gives us isn’t about us. It’s about Him and what furthers His Kingdom. Sometimes that means we have to walk away from comfortable and easy and put aside our desires and choose to answer God and act on His behalf. What’s that word…? Oh yeah, surrender.
I have likened this to base jumping – something I have never done and You Tube has done a pretty awesome job of ensuring that I never will! Base jumping is different than sky diving in that you are jumping off of a fixed point that is much closer to the ground. Reaction time has to be a lot faster in order to get that chute opened in time to break your fall or as I call it, plummet. In base jumping, you are standing with your toes over the edge and you can see precisely where you are falling. You choose when to jump and if you will jump at all.
I’m not sure why, but to me base jumping still affords you the opportunity to walk away. Sky diving seems much more committed to me. You took the plane up there; if you don’t jump you are really wasting everyone’s time, money and effort. In base jumping, it’s up to you. It’s your time, your experience. No one else is in it with you. If you get to the edge of that cliff and decide it’s not your thing, you can turn around and go back to the car. No harm, no foul. But you haven’t had the experience. You didn’t fly for that brief moment. You didn’t pull the chute or feel the success of the landing (assuming you are successful).
And there’s the difference between base jumping and God’s call. Yes, it’s terrifying to stand at the edge of the cliff and jump. But when God has called us to do it, He ensures that He will keep us safe and give us a successful landing. If we believe that, there is a passion for the call that makes us seek the cliff in the first place.
I read Isaiah 6 this morning and got rocked to my toes. Isaiah was given a vision of the glory of God, recognized how unworthy he was to even have a glimpse, and was forgiven in person, hands on (v. 6 & 7) for his sins. Then God asked a question.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us”” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isn’t it just like God to give us an open-ended question? Isaiah easily could have said, “Ezra’s schedule is open! And I heard Hosea has some free time now that his wife is out of town. Old Jeremiah is just napping.”
He could have answered as I would have. “Where are you sending me? What do I have to do? How much time is it going to take? What is it going to cost me? Let me get the facts, pray about it and I’ll get back to you.”
Instead, even after calling himself unworthy (v. 5), Isaiah embraced his forgiveness and jumped. “Here am I. Send me!”
So now we are left with some questions. Are we seeking? Are we surrendering? And will we jump? If you are in a place of stagnant waiting, I urge you to take a minute and consider these questions for yourself.
It’s easy to say, yes, I’m seeking God but WHAT are you seeking? Are you asking God to come to you? Are you saying no to moving in the direction He is urging and asking Him for a new angle?
It’s easy to say, sure I’m surrendering. But WHAT are you surrendering? Your time? Your money? Your dream? Your comfort? Your pride?
Will you jump? If all the conditions are right and I can see the landing and I have a back up and the ambulance is on the edge of my landing zone.
There’s a passionate purpose out there for you. All you have to do is jump.