Discipleship

Waiting on a Moment

The life of following Jesus is a fair bit of waiting. You have a desire for transformation, for your heart and mind to change. After all its promised, its sanctification, becoming more like Christ. There are moments of advance, or revision, or renewal, of revealing. But there are also a lot of moments of waiting.

Expand this reality to pastoral ministry and the ache for these things moves from a longing for personal change to something larger, for a body of believers, for a real move of God to grow his kingdom and his people. That’s what I have been feeling.

A big take away for me from the last couple of weeks of a break is how growth comes in rest. Did you know your body grows when you are asleep? Soil is an unsuitable environment for vegetation to grow if it is constantly turned over and disturbed. Spring comes after a winter rest.

I have been trying to find these moments of rest, for me and the church, over the last months but it has been increasingly difficult. The pandemic and social unrest don’t leave much room for downtime, even if we are quarantined at home! It has been four months of constant turning of the soil. Decisions to be made. Material to produce. Aching for growth.

Reading Joshua 14 this morning I saw again the need of rest. The first chapters of this book are conquest. The nation coming into the Promised Land. The is turmoil, enemies afoot, uncertainty. And Joshua leads through it all. Then at the end of chapter 14 we read, “And the land had rest from war.”

From that rest, the land was divided up, cities built, a people flourished.

What will our growth look like if we let the ground rest? How might we set down the plow and see what springs up? How might God move as we wait on a moment?

The soundtrack for this rest is going to be Chris Renzema’s song “Let the Ground Rest.”

Been waiting on a moment
Been waiting on a sign
Waiting for them to call your name
And you’re next in line
Been waiting for your time to come
You’re fifteen minutes in the sun
So don’t you find it strange
That God, He made four seasons and only one’s spring?


So just let the ground rest
‘Cause if it’s not right now
It’s for the best
You’re gonna grow, I know this
But for now, just let the ground rest


You’ve been waiting on a moment
Been waiting on a sign
Waiting for the lights to change
When you won’t feel so stuck or so left behind
Been waiting for the day to come
When you can leave behind what you’ve become
Wash it all away
These flowers only grow once they’ve tasted rain


So just let the ground rest
‘Cause if it’s not right now
It’s for the best
You’re gonna grow, I know this
But for now, just let the ground rest


‘Cause He’ll finish what He starts
He started this I know
But if you saw the plans
Maybe you wouldn’t go
I watched Him plant a seed
And then let the ground rest
So child, oh, believe
‘Cause I promise there’s a harvest

Discipleship, Grace

Finding Restoration

For the last week and a half, our family has been “hiding in the woods” of Oregon for some much desired and needed time away. And as one does, as we approach the end of our vacation I have been reflecting on whether I have found the refreshment or rest that I thought I needed.

I think so.

For me time away from the regular schedule and demands are times to dream and scheme. I usually come away from short sabbaticals with a list of new challenges or ideas to tackle. This trip has some of this but not nearly the typical crush of tasks to take on. I think a big part of this is that we still don’t know what the next months hold. As virus infections continue to rise in the U.S. and the likelihood of another lock-down seems necessary the church remains in the a flexible posture and we keep preaching the word and trusting the Spirit to move among us (even if we are apart).

I think the other reason I don’t have a huge dream list from this trip is that what I need is not new dreams, what I need is restoration. Renewal, re-energizing for the days ahead.

Sliding into Psalm 126 this morning I join the Psalmist crying out for another move of God.

The prayer begins by recounting. “When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.” Mouths filled with laughter, shouts of joy, and people taking notice. “The LORD has done great things for them,” Indeed, the LORD has done great things for us… we are in fact glad!

But we won’t settle for nostalgia. We want more of Jesus, more of his harvest, more of his glory. “Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!” Like a flood to a desert place, wash us anew in your grace and overwhelm us with your presence and power.

This has been a season of tears and weeping, which are seeds for sowing. In Christ, we shall come home with shouts of joy. With his harvest.

This is what I need, I think it is what you need too. Restoration. Grace-driven, Christ-exalting, wind-in-your-sails strength. I think that is what the Spirit is working. We are laughing again, shouting for joy.

May we say, Yes, the LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.

Discipleship

They Did Not Thirst

“This season is very revealing…” This has been my sentiment as we continue through 2020 full of her pandemic and racial tension. When shaking happens, things are uncovered and our deepest hopes, bias, and perspectives are revealed. This has been a significant reality in the church and while it does not make for the easiest relationships or partnerships, it is good.

I brought this reflection to my reading this morning and Isaiah 48’s recounting of the refining of Israel. It is essentially God retelling the ways he has used circumstance to chisel away at the hearts of his people. To reveal their disobedience and to show the way of trusting his will and way. “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea;” Isaiah 48:18

There was hope for them still and it was in recounting the faithfulness of God.

Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea, declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it, send it out to the end of the earth; say, “The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob!

They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and the water gushed out.” Isaiah 48:20-21

I was talking to a few pastors just yesterday and they mentioned the “battle weariness” of this season of ministry and I can relate. Simple things are not simple anymore and rapid transformation in the church is not only exhausting, it is like the fires have been set to be quite a bit hotter.

Yet we, like Israel, can recount the faithfulness of God in the midst of the refining. We can return to him in repentance and reliance on his grace and power. We can live “hydrated” by his Spirit as we, ministers and the rest of us, persevere through the unknown of tomorrow.

Some of us need to take some breaks; get off of social media and replace the time with Scripture. Some of us need to have more real conversations where gospel reminder is the end point. Some of us need to keep being bold where voices have been absent. And some of us just need to get away, to a place of solitude to be with the Father.

All along the way my prayer is that we would look back on this year and say we did not thirst as we journeyed through this desert, that the Lord’s provision was gushing out. Will you pray that with me?