Thursday, June 21, 2018

God doesn’t fail to speak

Apt are we to think ‘how on earth does God speak; does He ever?’ On the contrary, never is there a time when God doesn’t speak.
I’ll use some of my own contemporary life experience and see if you can’t see your own life in these words. See if you can’t also say, ‘I think that also happens to me.’
In struggling for income six months ago, still not recovering from loss of fulltime work two years ago now, we felt led by God to start a funeral celebrancy ministry. The thinking was that an occasional funeral would not only ply my pastoral care gift but could also earn us a little income. ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, the labourers work in vain,’ (Psalm 127:1a) has been my growing thought, until I received a message from a past-parishioner who had had a relative suicide; years ago, I had counselled the deceased; we had rapport, but the work had to finish when Nathanael was on his way; and, would I conduct the funeral service? God has spoken. The first opportunity in six months. And yet, this one. It isn’t lost on me how significant this one is. Not that other deaths or funerals aren’t, but this one is for a huge range of reasons, and not that my first in this new venture needs to be ‘significant’. God has spoken, that’s all. One in six months, by world standards, is not successful. But to do this one as the only one, I’m sure you understand, is significant from a Kingdom viewpoint, because God is the God of one. And I mean significant within the Kingdom that is God’s admonishment of myself. (In my relationship with God I’m constantly being loved through correction.) He has shown me so much about death and despair and destiny and direction in a two-week period. My first one in six months could not have taken me deeper into His Presence for such a time as this. In this, He has shown me new experience and evoked fresh emotions.
Earlier in the year I was invited to join a group of people to learn how to train people in peacemaking principles. It was national level, invite-only training. It was a privilege to be asked. And because it is ministry, we were all being asked to fund our own way there, though the training itself was free. I felt called to it, but we couldn’t afford for me to go. When I communicated honestly with the PeaceWise leadership that we could really only afford half the investment, a few days later they came back and said someone had ‘gifted’ us half the cost so I could come! The love of generosity. They didn’t need to do that. But they did it. Then someone in our church gave us the rest of the money, not knowing that we needed it! And then my employer gave me the time off I needed, and paid for the leave I had to take, calling the training professional development. God has spoken. He wants me to be a peacemaker who trains others to be peacemakers, to advance a movement of peacemaking in world that hates reconciliation. But not only that. I’ve been included and embraced within a family of loving, likeminded ministers. But not only that… On the return leg of the trip, this happened. It is no irony that even on a trip for peacemaking, God was making me endure, with a dozen others, a 75-minute journey through a little living hell to experience a taste of toxic masculinity — the scariest hour-and-a-quarter of my life — to reinforce the need for a peacemaking response in this world. To show me just how dangerous our world is. To show me an aspect of humanity I’m so rarely exposed to. To show me the presence of tyranny and the need of God.
Then, in a season of following the revival preachers of the Twentieth Century, I came across someone from the 1960s who I thought was a relative unknown; Paris Reidhead. His message Ten Shekels and a Shirt is not only ageless, but a personal word for me from God. No doubt God has used this message to gain many a person’s attention. This message has shattered a little deception that I was harbouring. And it is no coincidence that a little and not-so-insignificant ministry is growing silently behind the scenes, well away from what would’ve been the pomp of my preferred style. I’ve served the house of Micah and I’ve been tempted to run off to serve the tribe of Dan. Yet, that has not been possible. God has closed those doors, even those doors of the house of Micah. And yet God has moved in ways within my service to Him to compel my understanding that I’m a pastor-at-large now; His instrument through no less than a half dozen and more causes for Christ (not that the number is important); and it’s been that way for years, yet I hadn’t seen it. Not that my service is even important in and of itself. What is important is God has spoken; ‘I won’t have you serve Me to the ends of idolatry!’ ‘Do it for ME!’ ‘Yes, Lord… I will.’
God has spoken, that’s all.
See if He doesn’t already speak in your life.
See if in your own life God doesn’t orchestrate your life in such a way as to command a hearing, and this is done in some ways you’d prefer not to occur, or that were so unpredictable to have to be God-incidence and not coincidence, or so bizarre as to be explained best as the action of God, and to be done in ways that remind you of your mere humanity, and your utter reliance on Himself.

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