Many Christians never accomplish anything because their church leaders tell them they can’t. In fact, some faith traditions pride themselves in over-emphasizing the frailty and fallen-ness of the “frozen” and “chosen”. Such perspective produces a downward spiral of ministry stagnation. Since we talk about how little we can do, without Christ, we end up doing so very little for Christ. That isn’t how the Apostle Paul approached his ministry.
To Paul, his to-do list was victory waiting to happen. He didn’t focus on what he couldn’t do but saw everything through what Christ could do through him. Ministry was opportunity for success, a battle ready to be won. Spend more time teaching your church everything that Christ can do through them and they will spend more time doing, sharing, encouraging, praying, teaching, helping, giving, and conquering.
Without Christ, we can’t do anything. This statement is theologically true. HOWEVER, we have Christ, and we can do anything. Why talk about what isn’t possible?
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. – The Apostle Paul (Phil 4:13)
It is an old and true cliche, when God closes a door He opens another. Wise people know you can stand in God’s hallway a long time. Moses spent 40 years in hallway, waiting. Joseph spent approximately 5 years in jail before becoming Pharaoh’s executive. 5 years waiting. The Bible is filled with hallway-sitters, people in between promises given and promises fulfilled. How do you know if you are waiting for God to open a door? Well…
1. You are waiting for a specific door to open. You can name it. It is a noun, person or place or thing!
2. Behind your specific door is something God has already revealed to you. If He hadn’t shared glimmers of things to come you wouldn’t know to walk through it when it opens. Revealing the door might be a surprise, but what lies behind it isn’t.
3. Behind your specific door is something consistent with God’s will. God doesn’t provide opportunities that are contrary to his plan. That is a “Satan” thing; he opens doors left and right! (go back and think about that point some more)
4. Behind your specific door is something specifically for you, designed with your gifts and talents and capacities in mind.
5. Behind your specific door is something desirable. You want it and that is why you are willing to wait for it.
If you aren’t waiting for a specific door you are most likely wandering the hallways trying to find any door that will nudge. WARNING! Not every door is for you and not every door opens up blessings. Do not leave the hall-wandering and enter into settling. How might you be settling? Well, it isn’t the things above. It is less than. If you are about to settle, step back and step away. Get back in the hall! Don’t settle- wait.
You may wander for a season, trying to get a lead on God’s will for you. That is part of the process. Through time in prayer God will begin to nudge you in a certain direction. You will find yourself outside a door, one door, with your next God-planned journey on the other side. When you find your door…wait for it!
…without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. – The Apostle Paul (Romans 1:10)
Faith takes life’s direction and resigns it to God’s discretion. We are left wanting and waiting and falling and flailing without a parachute. And, with this falling, comes an emotion and a need. We feel afraid. Yes, fear and faith are not foreign to each other. How else should we describe the empty abandonment felt before the deliverance of God, not the elation experienced after God confirms the promise. Faith involves fear. It is the cold dead tomb, sealed and silent.
Faith is also need. “God, you must act or I die. You must catch me.” With no need faith does not lead us to new mornings with new days. There is no descent into Christ. Our faith has neither stretched us nor moved us nor changed us. Without need we are not transformed because our self is not crucified upon the altar, nor is pride and self-confidence killed. Faith is a tomb sealed by a rock only God can move, and waiting till morning.
People must know that faith leads to dark, God-intended places. They must expect fear or they will flee the tomb. They must expect need or they will not wait to see God fulfill it. Tell them, “Once you step you are going to start to fall. It is alright to be afraid. It is the right emotion for one out of control. You are gong to be at a loss. But, wait for God. His timing is perfect and provision is beyond measure. After the cold sealed tomb is the blessed morning of resurrection and new life.”
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me…do not abandon the works of your hands. Psalm 138:8
To experience God’s healing you first must be sick. To see God’s leading you must first be lost. To know God’s warmth you must first feel cold. To receive God’s provision you must first be in want. To get God’s protection you must first be in war.
God is not one to waste His promises on the off chance they might be overlooked, mistaken, or misappropriated. God gives His promises only when the receiver is sure to have them as God’s promises and not happenstance, luck, coincidence, or self-ingenuity. At the end of despair and doubt and depression God comes as a shining light of hope and healing. Yet, before He pulls you out you must find yourself with no way out. When the last hour has struck and your last card has been played, when you have nothing left to do but wait on God…watch!
He said not ‘Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased’; but he said, ‘Thou shalt not be overcome.’ – Julian of Norwich
A thousand may fall at your side…but it will not come near you. – Psalm 91:7
[I wrote the following in my journal during our last family camping trip]
Gripped by anxiety. All was well till gathered round the (camp)fire I felt my soul drop. Was it too many dangers? Hot fire? Uneven ground riddled with roots? Sharp searing hot dog irons? I could not affirm them (my sons) but rather ruined the night with my anxious craze. I cannot affirm them frozen by anxiety!
I cast all my cares upon You.
I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet
And any time I don’t know what to do
I will cast all my cares upon You
And he (God) will give His angels watch over you so you will not…They will lift you up in their hands so you will not strike your foot upon a stone (Psalm 91:12)
Isn’t my God so aware and able that He can keep my precious one’s from harm? Need I only trust his Hands and Eyes? Need I only lay their safety in His most able care? Different vacation but same lesson it seems.
Better Your Hands to keep
Those most precious to me
To Your trust I lay their life
No stumble, fall, no pain nor strife
“Angels watching ’round their feet”
God, my anxious soul entreats.