EITHER as a weekly structure of days, or as a process for spiritual endeavour through a whole season, or as a devotional configuration for life, the following system serves to help mobilise faith.
As a principle of worship, Jesus just wants us to come; to be, in the doing sense — as in being is what we’re doing when we come. That is, to allow ourselves the uncommon grace to come to him just as we are, nothing hidden, no shame nor guilt nor condemnation. Although this is not easy, we can easily do it when we’re shown how. A safe shepherd allows us the space to come into the sanctuary.
This is to worship in Spirit and in Truth — to connect at once with his Spirit because we’re blatantly truthful, as if we have nothing to fear, because we really don’t.
Once we have come, we then come to the opportunity of rest. Anyone who is weary and laden with burden should know that Jesus is rest for weariness and relief for burden.
Most of the time we only have to give ourselves permission to rest; then we need to be disciplined enough not to slip into something more comfortable — which, ironically, means work, and often for the Kingdom. But if we don’t rest, more and more of our work for the Kingdom is done in our own strength, and not in the power of the Spirit.
Rest in our day is harder than it should be because of the sheer volume of distractions in today’s world.
To come and to rest are antecedents of healing. Nobody can heal unless they’re first emptied of themselves. And that means we need to be stripped of the comfort of our habits, that have taken us far from rest.
A companion to healing is woundedness, and to such a degree that we’ve been smashed beyond comprehension. That’s when we’re ready for healing; when we’ve been broken to such a point we realise pride needs to be surrendered on a daily and momentary basis.
We’re ready for healing when we’re submitted and humble. When we have no need to defend or protect our pride. Pride is a barrier to growth.
The barrier to growth is healing, and once the doors of healing are flung open we’re in a state of eager anticipation for what God will do in us next.
Growth is paradoxical; it occurs most in the season where we see it least — when we’re pressed in and upon. As we endure depression and despair, courageous enough to hope in the mire, we grow, and yet we won’t see it at the time. Trust God, however, as it’s how he works for the good for the people who love him.
So heal, then grow.
Underpinning growth is the willingness to serve, even, and especially even, when we’re far from arriving at the point of our healing.
Serving makes us grow at an exponential rate. Through serving we’re faced with all sorts of challenges that need to be innovated and overcome. It’s hoped there’s enough encouragement and empowerment in our serving, but ultimately serving’s about wanting to serve God. That sort of ‘want’ will hold us up under even the most discouraging circumstances, because our serving isn’t about us; it’s truly about him. Indeed, the more we’re thwarted, the more glory goes to God when we grin with peace through it!
Serve well, and healing and growth are fortified.
Anyone who’s heavily engaged in the serving must come regularly to reflection to be revitalised by God’s Spirit. Ministry is too brutal otherwise. Without Sabbath reflection we’re on the road to burnout. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality tell us that Sabbath consists of stopping work, enjoying rest, practicing delight, and contemplating God. That means actually stopping, and entering into a head and heart space estranged to life in this world; with the actual practice of the Presence of God.
This is the meaning of life. It truly is. If we cannot love with sweet abandon, we cannot enjoy the true essence of the gregarious Christian life.
So, as the completion of this cycle comes to love, let us once again commit to come before God, so we may rest in his Presence, and heal in his grace, and grow in his Spirit, to serve in his power (and not our own), in order to reflect his glory, by loving in his strength. All these previous six modalities of means are for the ends of love. Nothing else matters.
Come to God. Rest in his Presence. Heal in his grace. Grow in his Spirit. Serve in his power. Reflect in his glory. Love in his strength.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.