Saturday, December 20, 2008

Listen up -- I got a question here...

Michael is the worship leader of the celebration service at my church. Last Saturday, after a concert led by Michael and the praise band at a homeless shelter where we conduct outreach ministries, I got into a short discussion with Michael. I couldn't tell you what we were talking about to save my life, but I can recall quite vividly a statement he made. He said he did 3 things when he got up every morning:

1) He smiles, to thank God for waking him up and giving him another day.
2) He stretches, because his body needs a good stretch in the morning.
3) He commits himself to living the day for Christ.

Number 3 reminds me of a prayer I have come to recite during my quiet times (which I believe I have quoted here before): New every morning is your love, Great God of Light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in me a desire to serve you, to live at peace with my neighbors and to dedicate each day to your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord.

Christian artist Matthew West puts it this way in his recent song, Something to Say:

Listen up, I got a question here
Would anyone miss you if you disappeared?
Well your life is the song that you sing
And the whole wide world is listening

You can't say it much more plainly that that! We all like to think that we will be missed. That we are making some kind of difference. That our lives count for something. If that is the case, what are we doing about it? If all the activities of our life were stacked up in the center of a room and lit with a match, what would burn up and what would remain?

These thoughts are not a call to whip ourselves, but to honestly consider, what the heck am I doing here in the course of taking up space, breathing up oxygen and consuming more than my share of limited natural resources?

Well the answer to the question is
You were created, your life is a gift and
The lights are shining on you today, ‘cause
You got something to say

Every single one of us, or just those with some kind of special calling on their lives?

If you’re livin’, if you’re breathin
You got something to say
And you know if your heart is beatin
You got something to say

Great, so I suppose I'm supposed to sit and meditate in my rocking chair each day and figure out what great, profound message God has for me to take to the masses? If there is some work we're supposed to be doing for the Kingdom, how do we determine what it is?

According to Watchman Nee is his book, Sit, Walk, Stand, before we plunge into some work for God, we should listen first to make sure we understand the eternal purpose of God. This purpose should be speaking loud and clear to our hearts before we even begin to consider our role in bringing the Kingdom of God upon the earth. For me, it seems that the eternal purpose of God is that all people should be reconciled to Him and to one another in love. Love should be the driving force behind all of our actions; love that springs from our relationship with Christ and our understanding of what he has done in our lives.

Second, we need to understand that if God doesn't not move, we dare not move. There are many great and noble causes out there; many great and noble activities I can occupy myself with. But have they been initiated and revealed by God or are they the workings of a restless soul that is searching out ways to stay busy? Being busy and being fruitful are not the same thing. Nee states emphatically, "All work that is going to be effective in the divine purpose must be conceived by God."

Third, we need to revisit the words of Jesus, who tells his followers as recorded in John's gospel, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." Thus, we must be dependent on the power of God for what we are trying to accomplish for His Kingdom. Sometimes our natural abilities and gifts become our undoing. We begin to rely too much on our own cleverness and not enough on the power of God. If you could accomplish the work you are involved in with or without God's power, is it possible that is is not truly the work God has in mind for you? Perhaps a noble activity you dreamed up all on your own?

Those three things being said, I will return to my original question (influenced by Matthew West), would anyone miss you if you disappeared?
God has something for you ... something each and every day. It's something that speaks to his eternal purpose. It's something that He himself has conceived for you. And it's something that you can only accomplish in a fruitful, Kingdom-living way through his power.

Best of all, it is something that God delights in allowing you to do in a manner that expresses the essence of who you are, of who He has created you to be:

And no one can say it like you do
God is love and love speaks through
You got it, you got it
You got something to say

1 comment:

Ken Ellis said...

One thing I remember learning from you was to always "Put on the full armor of God" before starting your day. That is something I have kept with me and used since you told me all those years ago.

I even got a shirt once at a church camp that said "Don't fight naked, put on the full armor of God"