2019 UChurch Fast – Day 2
“The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian.” ― Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God
Yesterday I found myself wrestling with how to write the first prayer & fasting posting (introduction). I struggled searching for the right amount of words to describe what has been happening in our midst in a concise fashion. How do you condense 3+ years of transformation concisely? What is the perspective to write from? Or who’s? Will it adequately explain and answer peoples questions?
Thankfully, I had some help. A number of people contributed, as will be the habit with each of the future postings…
The reality is that we are a community of many, and to describe where we are at, and where He has been taking us requires a bit more than one summary email can offer. The reality is that we can discern what God has been doing, and is doing, by hearing about what he has been doing in various peoples experiences in our midst. The true state of a family is determined by the state of each persons heart. If we really want to know what God is doing in the community of His kids, it would obvious we need to hear from the kids what he has done, and is doing in our hearts.
Our personal transformations reveal the incredible ways God is working. We know His church in not a corporate entity, it is each and every person who has surrendered to His invitation of trusting him to be our savior instead of ourselves. Each of our personal stories reveal what in fine careful detail what He has been doing in His church, us in this community.
These stories can be messy, some have long stretchs of wilderness in them, others will describe very desperate cries to God, burnout, pain surfacing and acknowledgement of numb hearts and waining passion. Others will through tears, recount the moments when love itself healed their hearts and opened their hearts eyes to see what they had never seen before. Many stories describe the blocks in hearts getting revealed and gingerly removed. Some will go on to describe new experiences of joy, peace replacing anxiety and striving. Many stories reveal moments where events in their past are brought to mind; moments that caused blocks to form in our hearts; things they we never knew were there before A common thread through them all, is the joyful awareness of change happening. Stories of transformed hearts and incredible testimonies of breakthroughs with new hope and joy. Many will describe hearts coming home to their heavenly Father, others will describe they are still on the way. Some stories are in process, not yet ready to be shared.
The stories about how these are true for us individually are the best way to describe what God has been doing in this community. They are our real lives, our experiences of vulnerability, hope, doubt, breakthrough, joy, peace, struggle and freedom. They contain the complete essence of what God has been doing; healing the broken hearted, opening eyes to see, replacing stoney bits with new life and love.
He loves to put the lonely in family. But we all know, the family has to be authentic in order for people to have courage to trust giving Him all of their hearts to him. In the fruit of our own transformation, more love flows through us, and this helps others learn that there is a possibility of unconditional love and acceptance in Him for them. It is our sense we should share some stories with one another – lots has happened in so many of us.
Testimonies of transformation…
I would like to ask as many of you who are led, to consider writing out some of your own hearts journey in this past season – write about what God has been revealing, healing and teaching your heart in these years. What has been your journey and the transformation you have been experiencing. What has been the fruit so far of Him working in you. This is not about what you learned in your mind, although understanding does come, but keep it focused on what HE has been doing in you. Send them to me, short or long, sooner than later. The hope is to share some of these with one another.
Why? Because we we have been disconnected…
When we don’t know what God is doing around us, or in us, we can feel disconnected. As we go though some of our own challenging moments in our transformational journey, we often need to pull back from things as HE does His work within us, but that can also can contribute to feelings of isolation. Some of us may have some pockets of people to process with, but some of us may not due to life’s circumstances. Hearing what God is doing in our lives takes time, but that’s one way to spell love; T-I-M-E.
Sharing our written stories will touch our hearts and help connect us (send some in)…. BUT... there are other ways to connect as well. Ways to hear our stories of what God is doing.
If you’re willing, ask God if you are to connect with someone in the community you have not seen in a long time this week or next. If you ask Him, I am sure He will likely tell you specifically who. Follow through – go with a clear intention; go to hear their story. Reconnect, and if they ask for your story, be vulnerable, share what God has been doing in you.
Joy and hunger are the foundation of authentic biblical community. Without it everything else is merely an exercise in human relations. Jesus prayed that all his followers would find unity together, not disconnection; but his prayer makes it clear that there is only one road to unity: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one… and the that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” – John 17:22,26.
The unity that marks authentic community rises only out of people who are seeking, hungry to be changed into God’s image. And as God is changing me, I find incredible connection with others he is also changing. Without even trying, I’m suddenly aware of their needs and how I can help, while also being aware of gifts and insights they can add to my life.
For people hungering after God, opening our lives to one another is not a cumbersome obedience, but a natural means to allow the transforming love of God to bring tangible encouragement, strength, and comfort.
If you’re like me, it has taken an inner process with much time to “be in family”; it took a long time for me to begin to move out from behind insecurities, fears and wrong perceptions of God and myself and interact. I had not idea that when he put me into family, it would be the means to reveal the orphan blocks in my heart. Sounds odd coming from a pastor perhaps, but my hearts journey is the same as everyone’s. Moving from the head knowing God loves me, to experiencing this love.
God knew I needed a Father, He knew I needed freedom, the freedom that only comes from a deep inner security of being a son. He has become that, and my heart has now begun to fully experience the adventure into Sonship (Gal 4:4-7). My heart has been awakened and now I can see – he has put this once lonely orphan into family. This is for us all.
This quote describes where I once was..
“The more isolated and disconnected I was, the more shattered and distorted was my self-identity. We are not healthy when we are alone. We find ourselves when we connect to others. Without community we don’t know who we are…
When I lived outside of healthy community in my heart, I not only lose others, I lose myself… Who we understand ourselves to be is dramatically affected for better or worse by those we hold closest to us.”
If you’re reading this and think you’re stuck, not sure if you’re able to lean in – simply tell Him – he will give you His courage to risk connecting with authentic people who have been down the same path.
If you have a story, or questions about what I am asking for (written stories), please let me know. And if your able, ask God to show you who to go listen too… to know, and if they are ask.. to be known.
May your fast week be rich!
This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.” – Ephesians 2:19-22 (The Message)