Posts Tagged ‘ministry’

sit walk standOn becoming commissioned as a lay minister, I have to confess, I had some doubts. In fact, it reminded me of the moments right before walking down the aisle. That voice, “Are you out of your mind? This is not for you! Go back!” But of course, whether for courage or stubbornness, I went forward. I walked it.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called . . . [Ephesians 4:1, NKJV]

On Wednesday last, I had the privilege of sharing my commissioning with five other fellow travelers at Restore Church Campus in Havre de Grace.  We were challenged (and entertained) by Don Cox, one of the church mentors and overseers (don’t particularly like that word, but the thesaurus wasn’t much help. Other choice was “head honcho.”) Anyway, his message was powerful and touched on the very heart of my peek into the future: sit, walk, stand. Don promised to speak on the entire book of Ephesians, and so he did, having put a great portion of it to memory.

The three words are echoed in the title of Watchman Nee’s book, but it is not a book for the faint-hearted. Written in the mid-seventies, the book still resonates today.

So what is this odd sequence of sitting and then walking before standing? Sitting is establishing one’s location. Here, and presumably, in Christ. I have written about this myself and find that phrase to be one of the great mysteries. Before anything else can happen or before any “going,” one has to accept the Christ truth and surrender to it. This is primary to faith.

Now, the assumption might be that standing would be next. After all, once in Christ, let me stand and stretch and experience the feeling. Ha Ha. Not so. It’s a go word: walk! And take Christ with you.

It is in this section that I really appreciated Don’s words as he illuminated Ephesians 4:1: not just to walk but to walk worthy. The newer translations say it a little differently, but this particular phrase will be clanging around my spirit for a while. And it’s not about rules or “do’s” or “do not’s.” Instead, we are asked to make decisions along the way, “is this action or this choice worthy of the One who lives within me, the One with whom I share spiritual space?”

And then finally, the moments of standing. Each and every journey has stopping points. Sometimes, they are places to rest, have a drink, eat a bite, and then take up the hike again. Other times, it’s a great wall of unexpected sorrow or diverloss (actually, joy can stop an expedition in its tracks too). These times are the ones where we are encouraged to suit up for the next leg of the journey. In Ephesians, Paul uses the metaphor of a suit of armor. That’s probably not the best one for a 21st century audience, but we get the idea.

So, in a way, there is a resting as we stand, but there is also prepping. And in some cases, we may need to sit again in order to remember how we have come so far and ultimately, why.

I am no different today really than I was a few days ago except for this one truth. I get it. I am in the process of suiting up. Perhaps a better image would be a wet suit before the big plunge. So be it. Let’s roll.

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Why did Timothy weep? Perhaps from lack of confidence, perhaps from loneliness or overwhelming difficulties in his ministry. I wonder, outside of Paul, who knew? Who held the tears of this young leader? Who holds the hearts of our youthful leaders today?

II Timothy 1:3-4
I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.

When young men (and women) charge into the world, they carry the energy and enthusiasm for ten, particularly when they are fueled by a passion for God and faith in Christ’s real presence. But, not every day is a red letter day and not every day is hopeful. And when they stumble, they fall hard, suddenly overwhelmed by the sheer size of their dreams.

In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams. [Acts 2:17]

And so, it is up to us older ones to remember and to encourage. It is up to us to maintain a stream of prayer and shafts of light. Sometimes, there is room for counsel, but I think that aspect is overblown. The young see the world with different eyes.

Our world is changing so quickly. What worked thirty years ago has no reason to succeed today. We must let go and give the young plenty of space for trials as well as errors. And through it all, we too can learn.

In this way, I think of our new young leader and our fledgling church. He carries power and ideas and knowledge. He is a visionary and a dreamer. He is kind and sensitive to the poor. He is one who saw the other side of life and turned around. But, I am sure, there are tears as well. There are disappointments and there are boulders in the path. And just as there will be more joy, there will be more pain.

And so, like Paul, I give him encouragement through my prayers, trusting in God to reveal the way.

Who is a Tmothy in your own world? Perhaps a son, a nephew, a daughter, a cousin, a neighbor. We have an obligation to them, to collect their tears.

“You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle–are they not in Your book?” [Psalm 56:8, Amplified]

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