Earlier this week I wrote the following letter to a friend of mine in leadership. After reading back through it, I feel that it has more to say than to just this one person. So I'm sharing it here with you ...
I'm glad that God's plans for your life and your gifts have included you being in the role you are in. I'm know that your journey to this place has included much praying, dreaming, envisioning, planning, waiting, learning, cooperating, leading, applying, serving, knowing, not knowing, and discovery. A Christ-follower, a leader of leaders, a parent, a Sunday School teacher, a friend, a sibling, a child ... you have worn and are wearing many hats.
I'm sure that old saying, "Be careful of what you hope and pray for!" has come to mind more than once in the past three decades of life, ministry and career. What a rare combination of gifts and callings you are. And through it all I have watched you stand strong with God. Thank you for your witness of what it means to have what Frederick Nietzsche said was lacking in so much of Christianity ... a "long obedience in the same direction."
Today while thinking about you my mind has gone to GENESIS 22:14 where God revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac and the ram, and where Abraham named the place God showed up "Jehovah Yireh" which doesn't exactly mean what the 1970's worship song says ... "Jehovah Jireh, my provider". And at the end of the day, the One who had issued the call, watched the obedience of Abraham and became his provider. Abraham didn't have to think long and hard about what to call the hilltop.
Again, the translation "Jehovah Jireh, my provider" is too "present and immediate" in it's tense for what this expression of God's character means. You and I both know from our own life-experiences what Abraham learned after climbing that mountain -- that as God leads, God also provides. But when you look at the Hebrew tense of the words in this verse (as The Emphasized Version of the Bible does), here is what's really being said ...
"So Abraham called the name of that place Yahweh, - as to which it is still said today, 'In the mountain of Yahweh, will provision be made.'" (italics mine)
In other words, "God's provision" isn't always quickly, or easily discovered, looked upon, or lived into. And yet, somehow, in response to our faithfulness, and our humble choice to look beyond the potentially flimsiness of our qualifications, God takes us on a journey of heart, mind and soul, that allows us to trust Him deeper, to depend on Him more consistently, to walk by faith and not by sight, and to hand over the outcomes of our lives into His hands in ways that move past stubborn obedience to true and total surrender."
And when we do this as GENESIS 22:14 says, "God's "provision will (in His timing, and in His way) be made."
Like they say in AA, "sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly." Trust God's timing. Trust the nudges God gives you and that you will only notice by being attentive, dey pendent upon Him, and fully surrendered to Him. Like what the Apostle Paul wrote to His friends in GALATIANS 3:3, I write to you ...
Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren't smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? (The Message)
And I love how this verse is rendered by J.B. Phillips ...
Surely you can't be so idiotic as to think that a man begins his spiritual life in the Spirit and then completes it by reverting to outward observances? Has all your painful experience brought you nowhere? I simply cannot believe it of you! (The J.B. Phillips New Testament In Modern English)
A person wouldn't start out a horse race, be way out in front of the pack, and then say, "I don't need this horse. I'm going to jump off it and finish this race on my own two legs. I'm fast enough. I can do this." They'd be a fool to try this. And yet this is the "craziness" and the "idiocy" we all-too-easily fall for when promoted by God to do greater things for Him in His Kingdom. What God has begun, let God continue doing.
So let me remind you today to let God's provision be seen in your visions, in your decisions AND IN the processes you take with God discerning and implementing them. Allow God to truly lead you, and then you can lead the others God has called you and equipped you to lead by simply staying in His footsteps.
Don't sprint ahead of God because of pride. Don't lag behind God because of fear. And as you stay in step with God, listen with the intention and humility of a servant listening for the voice and directions of the master. For a servant is what and who you are ... and what you must remain if you're to continue being God's person for the job He has called you to do. PSALM 123:1-2 speaks so beautifully of this ...
I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven. We look to the LORD our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal. (New Living Translation)
Blessings to you dear friend. Your master is signaling, so keep your eyes on Him. Godspeed.