And right now, a week later, I feel alive. There’s something about connecting with this loveliness of Jesus which makes you insatiably hungry for more. To be honest, it’s a bit frustrating because I’d love to be sitting around reading my Bible, listening to preaching all day, but well, I’ve got a job to do and responsibilities, so I’d best crack on.
But this week, in my down time, when I’ve been reading, processing, absorbing, a few different things have come to mind, so I thought I’d jot them down.
Any move of God starts first of all with me.
The great revivalists, the ones of hundreds of years ago who saw God change counties and even countries, all seemed to know one thing. Great moves of God start with me. They start when I (you!) get fired up and excited about prayer, about God’s word, about listening, absorbing, learning, practicing, being willing. All the great revivals started usually with one man or one woman saying, ‘Right, ! I am GOING for this’ and then getting stuck into serious, dedicated private prayer and devotion. Something about those times of getting closer to God made them attractive to outsiders. It made others wonder what on earth was going on. Suddenly people started saying, ‘hang on…I want whatever he’s having’. And so it began.
It begins with me, but it’s not about me
Here’s the tricky part though. It begins with me and my actions but oh my goodness, it is definitely not about me. In fact, believing that I have anything at all to do with whether God chooses to move or not, is probably the fastest way to bring it to a sticky end.
I’ve been in the church all my life (pastor’s kid) and I’ve been part of two churches where the pastors had to step down after admitting they’d messed up their private lives by having affairs. I’ll not pretend to know much about how this happens, but I wonder if it begins when we start to believe our own publicity? We see God blessing what we do and somewhere down the line, we confuse God’s blessing with our own ability and start to think we’re special, we’re different, that the normal rules don’t apply.
King David was a classic example. He was seeing mega victories in battle, he was loved by his people, he was a man after God’s own heart but one night, he’s walking on his roof terrace and he sees the stunning Bathsheba taking an evening rooftop bath at a neighbouring property.
Who knows the initial thought process that went through his mind, but I wonder if there was part of his brain which thought, God has blessed and anointed me, surely he wouldn’t deny me this? Don’t I deserve good things? I’ve been faithful, I’ve served God, he wouldn’t put it in my path if he didn’t want me to have it, would he?
Admittedly that’s just conjecture, I have no idea what David thought (beyond the obvious) but I do know that a simple bad thought led to a series of poor decisions which led to the destruction of a marriage, a murder and the death of a baby.
Later, God redeemed the tragedy through the birth of Solomon but so much pain, destruction and heartache could have been avoided by just doing one thing, keeping his eyes fixed on God and not on what he wanted in that moment.
Don’t chase the experience
When God does something amazing in our lives, it’s easy to fixate on the experience itself or even the person that God used to bring it to life. Years ago, I was at a service and someone gave me a really specific prophecy which literally knocked me off my feet. For days, I was stunned, blown away by what had happened. I wanted MORE so I went back to the meetings, back to see this person, all looking for more, more, more of the same.
After I was repeatedly disappointed, I had to realise that God didn’t want me to chase the experience or the prophet, he wanted me to chase him. That need for ‘more’ was a desire God put in my heart to pursue what God was saying, to read my Bible, spend time in God’s presence, not just buy the speaker’s book or video.
When you get too big for your boots
When God does something amazing, if we don’t guard our hearts, it can be easy to lose sight of what it’s all about. Ultimately any move of God has to make us desperate for more of his word, for more of Jesus, not for more publicity, followers, big experiences or personal glory. If we keep our eyes on the main thing (Jesus), I’ve discovered he has this unique way of kicking me in the shins.
Ever been at a dinner party or an event and you’ve said something you know you shouldn’t have? Quietly but obviously, under the table comes a tap, a nudge or a swift shin kick from your significant other (often accompanied by a pointedly raised eyebrow). That’s a message to say, ‘you’ve gone too far. Wind your neck in’.
For clarity, I’m not saying that God kicks us but like a loving nudge, sometimes he has to give us a spiritual poke in the guts to say, ‘remember, this is NOT about you. This is about MY glory, about what I’m saying in my word, about my plans, not yours.
For me, this week has been life-changing, overwhelming but whatever happens next, let me always be willing to feel a heavenly shin kick and to remember above all, it’s about the astonishing glory and beauty of the living God.
It’s not about chasing experiences, people or human rewards or about anything I think I have to offer. It’s about Jesus and what he’s going to do. If he lets me be part of that, then my goodness, wow.
But it’s not (and never will be), about me.