So now you know one of my stories of how the Lord took me by surprise. Incidentally, it was a season where I had not been hearing from Him at all and I wasn’t sure if I ever would again. It was wonderful hearing from a number of you about your own “kisses” from the Lord. Aside from those, I am wondering if your reaction to reading my story is included on the list below:
– God has done this for me
– That is nice for you
– I know God loves me, but He loves everybody
– I don’t need that kind of display of affection to know that God loves me (an intellectual response, you are almost feeling offended)
– I don’t deserve that kind of attention
– I don’t believe that can happen for me
– God does not/will not relate to me like that
What I have to say in this blog is going to sound like a confrontation or at best an assumption. I don’t know your heart, but I do know that in many times and places mine has been a wreck, and I can’t be that different from everybody else.
But this is not a confrontation, it is a plea. It is a plea for those of you who give your lives away to others every day and who resonate with any but the first line in the above list. And to those who have already shared with me how God has done amazing things like this for you, this is just a friendly reminder, even as I remind myself.
It is time to get away to be with Him. He is aching for our company.
I am not talking about whether we have a devotional or quiet time every day. I am talking about being able to simply receive the love of God, and to feel good about just being in His presence. Because we are conduits of His love and care, we must allow God’s Holy presence, love, and peace infiltrate our lives first.
This is not selfish or wasteful, it is necessary.
We might be successful in ministry without it, and feel pretty good about what we are doing. But there is a difference between being successful and fruitful. I can think of several instances where Jesus talked about being fruitful. (ie. John 15:1-6) But where does He talk about being successful?
What are the voices in your life encouraging you to be successful?
What are the voices in your life encouraging you to be fruitful?
I will answer the first question. The loudest voice urging me to be successful is my own. I am the biggest violator that I know of when it comes to listening to that voice and not being available to hear what God is wanting to share with me. Sometimes it just kills me to sit still. I can make my husband and kids feel like a task on one of my lists. I am often distracted by having many projects and things I want to do.
But then I finally recognize my need to get with the Holy Spirit, who encourages me to be fruitful. He knows this really is my desire, and that it is a process to learn to fight my natural tendencies to be an achiever.
If we are not open to ministry from the Holy Spirit, to receiving from God in some sort of way that connects our heart to His, then we are walking in the flesh and building things that will end up on the burn pile when it’s all over. (I Corinthians 3:11-15) I can’t think of anything worse that could happen to one’s life work in ministry. Our lives are too costly for this to happen. Ministering in the flesh doesn’t just affect us, it also affects those who receive what we have to give, which ends up not being what they ultimately needed.
If you are on the front lines in ministry, you are the most vulnerable to the lies of the enemy. Think about how important communication is in war, without it one cannot hope to win and it surely has to be one of the first priorities for those directing the stage in war. Satan goes for those who are on the front lines, trying to disrupt communication between us and God. He understands that the lack of communication makes us much less effective. We may feel that since we are representing the Lord that somehow we are more resistant to his lies, when in reality we can be more vulnerable.
We are also sometimes weakened because we have seen things that no one should have to see or experience. Senseless death, overwhelming evil, poverty, unexplainable suffering, war, flagrant immorality, insanity, and more surround you on a daily basis and you see the destruction they bring. I am reminded of a ministry friend that stumbled upon an execution guerilla war-style while living in a foreign country, was pursued, and rightfully feared for her life. Even though you have access to more resources, you might feel helpless to do anything about what you have seen. You might not have any answers to offer that don’t sound hollow as you say them. And that is why you thought you were out there in the first place. This is a perfect scenario for the accuser to come in, to slander God night and day until you question His kindness, His love, His justice, and His care. The Bible says He cares, but how do I know that He REALLY cares? We must have this matter settled in our hearts.
The enemy slanders the kindness of God continuously, and will wear us out with accusations until we believe it, even if at only the most subtle level. What protects us even beyond prayer is if our heart is guarded by the consistent experience of His love, kindness, and care.
If you are in the camp that says that we do not need an emotional experience to stay connected to the Lord, let me risk offending you again.
Satan has a number of names in the Bible: the accuser, usurper, destroyer, the evil one, etc. I would like to suggest another one: theologian. We assume that every theologian has a vibrant relationship with God, but not necessarily; the basic meaning of this term is someone who studies theology. As James 2:19 states, Satan and his demons know the truth and tremble. Satan knows Scripture inside and out; he has to, it is his biggest tool. It is the only thing he used when he tempted the Son of God. He probably strategized for years, like an attorney who spends hours reading case histories to find a ruling or precedent that would defend his position. What Satan came up with to sincerely try and trip up Jesus was to use His own word against Him. Why would he use anything else on us? Isn’t that what he used on mankind in the Garden to make them hide from God in the first place?
We must have a connection with God that includes every part of us; mind, will, and emotions, not just what we can read and believe. I am not trying to diminish the necessity of being in the Word and knowing and understanding it. But the Word is also a living, breathing Person, who has emotions, and who also desires to connect with us. Knowledge alone is not going to preserve us in these days.
I have transgressed my own word limit again, thanks for reading this through…..