Monday, March 05, 2012

A burning bush

'The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become- because he made us. He invented all the different people you and I were intended to be.....It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own'

C S Lewis quoted in 'The purpose-graced life'  on Day 10 
[Page 80]

Most of us are ambitious in some form or other. We are ambitious for ourselves, our careers, our children, our reputation, our churches or our legacy. However, fewer are ambitious for the glory of God. I recall reading in 'A million miles in a thousand years' when Donald Miller describes the person who saves up to buy a Volvo and the culmination of the story is he parks it on the drive. That, he says, is a rubbish story that no one is ever going to find very interesting and it hit me so hard because it was my story for so long. No matter what variables you add to it - the amount of time it took to save, the details of the spec'ing of the car or how many people you invite around to look at the car once you've bought it- it will always be dull. So many people settle for a Volvo life and remarkably so many Christians are prepared to settle for it when there is so much more offered. Most of us are yearning for it I think. Planting a church with a small band of saints is forcing us into risk and faith but I don't think we'd have it any other way. 

Why don't we/I  risk more?

Well, I think it is fear. As Ortberg so memorably told me in the brilliant 'If you want to walk on water' God says 'Do not be afraid' over 300 times in the Bible. To allay the fear there is only one option- surrender. You see, it is perfectly possible to be saved but not surrendered and to be so will eventually make you miserable. It is I think why there is less joy than their should be around in the lives of Christians. 

Luis Pilau's account in Indelible ink describes this process of surrender and what happened when he did. If you are fighting surrender let me give you a bit of advice. Don't. That is unless you'd rather settle for a Volvo. There's more for you. Much more.

"Thomas talked about Moses and how it took this great man forty years in the wilderness to learn that he was nothing. Then one day Moses was confronted by a burning bush- probably a dry bunch of ugly sticks that had hardly developed- yet Moses had to take off his shoes. Why? Because it was holy ground. Why was it holy ground? Because God was in the bush!

In essense, God was telling Moses: I don't need a pretty bush or an educated bush or an eloquent bush. Any old bush will do as long as I am in the bush. If I am going to use you, I am going to use you. It will not be you doing something for Me, but it will be me doing something through you.

I realised immediately that I was that kind of bush: a worthless, useless bunch of dried up sticks. I could do nothing for God. All my reading and studying, asking questions and trying to model myself on others was worthless. My studies and questions were important steps in growing faith, but I was focussing too much on the knowledge I could gain and the person that I felt I should become. In the midst of my studies I forgot to let God mould me. Instead I was trying to pave my own path.

After hearing Thomas speak, I read his book. It was profoundly significant for my spiritual life. God knew I needed to hear those words at that point in my life. It was as if Thomas were speaking directly to me when he wrote: 'You have felt the surge of holy ambition. your heart has burned within you. You have dreamed dreams and seen visions, but only to awaken again the dull sense of futility, as one who beats the air and builds castles in the sky'

Everything in my ministry was worthless, I realised unless God was in the bush. Only he could make something happen.

Thomas told of many Christian workers who failed at first because they thought they had something to offer God. He himself had once imagined that because he was an aggressive, winsome evangelistic sort, God would use him. but God didn't use him until he came to the end of himself. That's exactly my situation. I thought I am at the end of myself.

Thomas closed the message by reading- you guessed it- Galatians 2:20. And then it all came together for me. 'I have been crucified with Christ and no longer live, but Christ lives in me' My biggest spiritual struggle was finally over! I would let God be God and let Luis Pilau be dependant on Him. 

I ran back to my room and in tears fell to my knees next to my bunk. 'Lord now I understand!' I prayed in my native Spanish. 'The whole thing is "not I but Christ in me". It's not what I'm going to do for you, but rather what you are going to do through me"

You may also be encouraged listening to 'I will build my church' which I for one find to be a huge relief:)


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