On Our Knees
On April 22, 2012 I missed church for a myriad of reasons, but I still went to “a” church. My son, Eli, had a performance in the afternoon, a recital, with his piano teacher and her other students. We all gathered at Faith Lutheran in Geneva. And as I sat in the pew I looked carefully around me. The church, a single story spread, with the standard church paint and feeling, I took notice that it really wasn’t much bigger than our own. Only designed more to today’s church models. What did strick me, though, was the projector screens hanging from the ceiling at the front where the Pastor stands to give his sermon. And that they did have a raised stage area covered in band equipment, speakers, drums, even prepared for the electric guitars. I found myself wondering how many people, young people, flock to this church because of the more trendy offerings. And my thoughts came right back to here. To God in the simplest of forms, the raw nature of His existence within our humble building, and parishioners. I know I wouldn’t change it yet I wonder if we did what …
Pastor Bill, “If we are not careful, we will completely bypass this promise and miss out on the Power of God’s presence. Surrounded by the self-sufficiency of American culture, we can convince ourselves that we have what it takes to achieve something great. In our churches we can mimic our culture, planning and programming, organizing and strategizing, creating and innovating – – all in an effort that will show what we can accomplish in our own ability. As Adams said, “we can attain to the fullest stature of which we are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what we are.” But there is another way.
It is a way of Christ.
Instead of asserting ourselves, we crucify ourselves.
Instead of imagining all the things we can accomplish,
we ask God to do what only He can accomplish.
Yes, we work, we plan, we organize, and we create, but we do it all while we fast, while we pray, and while we constantly confess our need for the provision of God. Instead of dependence on ourselves, we expressed radical desperation for the Power of His Spirit, and we trust that Jesus stands ready to give us everything we ask for so that He might make much of our Father in this world.
Think about it.
Would you say that your life is marked right now by desperation for the Spirit of God?
Would you say that the church you are a part of, Plymouth Congregational church, is characterized by this sense of desperation?
Why would we ever want to settle for Christianity according to our ability or settle for church according to our resources? The Power of the One who raised Jesus from the dead is living in us, and as a result we have no need to muster up our own might. Our great need is to fall before the Almighty Father day and night and to plead for Him to show His radical Power in and through us, enabling us to accomplish for His glory what we could never imagine in our own strength. And when we do this, we will discover that we were created for a purpose much greater than ourselves, the kind of purpose that can only be accomplished in the power of His Spirit.
I hear those with the same questions I have fought over since my youth. What do I think when I believe God has failed me? When I believe God doesn’t answer my prayers? When I believe that God is sending us the wrong answer? When I make a decision I later regret? What then, God, then what?
But hear Pastor’s words… are we creating our own environment through our myopic belief system or are we truly listening to God’s answers? Are we allowing the Holy Spirit to fill us up or are we creating our own man-made creation which limits if not eliminates God’s truest form within our lives?
Bad things happen. We won’t always get the answers we desire. And we will not always make the best of choices, or so it will seem in the moment. For those that truly open their hearts to God and his power to comfort, to prepare, to hold, to walk, to share we will find even in our darkest times a light to lead us back.
As I write this I think about the decision laying in front of me. And the fact I have not just stopped moving long enough to sit down and really pray to God to listen to God. I think about the Thompson Jr. High School boy who died at the age of 12 from a fluke baseball accident, and his family. How easy it would be for them to denounce any existence of God because if he did exist he would never have taken their son away. I know I would struggle there, deeply. In time, though, we all open our hearts back up to God and listen to his words, feel his arms of comfort.
MAYBE … JUST MAYBE …
Instead of having God sit on hold while we come back around, ask Him to never leave and He will be there through your entire journey. Know that the bad things are not from Him, but accept that they happen and allow Him to bring you comfort. God would never ask you to not be angry, or sad, but He wants you to accept His love through the struggles. His love is not man made. His love is not based on rock music at the alter of life. His love is devoured by our hands of faith. Give Him your trust and He will give you life.
Today, take a moment to pray. Pray about your weight, your life, your heart… whatever is ailing your mind. Offer these items up to God. Then do it again tomorrow. Then the next day. Keep coming back until you know that God’s Holy Spirit rests within you. Each day you trouble getting out of bed, you can smile knowing that God will rest with you as long as you need, or will be your motivation to smile when feeling weak. God is your Father, allowing you to rest your head upon his lap while he strokes your hair and whispers soothingly into your ear.