Sunday, October 15, 2006

Misplaced Security and the Promise of New Strength

Security. It’s something everyone wants, but doesn’t want to want. We all desire the assurance that our health, our families, our jobs, and our ministries will remain and not decline. If you’re like me, you want these assurances without the sense of dependence on other(s). When the noble layer of desire for security is peeled back, beneath festers a bubbly-hot, self-sufficiency—I want to be the source of security—for myself, my family, and yes, even my ministry. Removing this sense can lead to depression or spiritual awakening.

I have been without consistent income and clear ministry direction for months. In April 2005, I began interviewing for full-time ministry positions. It is now October 2006 and next week I will begin a “secular” job to support my family. During this time, I have visited and revisited my sense of calling. Should I be applying for teaching positions? Do I need more pastoral experience before planting a church? Should I apply for doctoral programs? Are there hidden character issues that need serious attention? Why has God chosen to not provide a full-time ministry position, one which I have been preparing for years to fulfill?

The answer that keeps coming back is wait upon the Lord (powerfully captured by Chris Tomlin's new song, "The Everlasting God". As vision for churchplanting grows and strategies begin to unfold, I am committed to planting with two other like-minded pastors and this has been a part of the waiting. However, the waiting goes much deeper. It is faith-growing patience and trust that God wants to cultivate beneath my ambition and in place of my self-security. It is acknowledgment of personal bankruptcy to carry out this vision of cultivating communities of Spirit-led disciples who redemptively engage peoples and cultures through Christ for the glory of God. It is waiting in weakness in order to discover that He alone is my security and strength.

When we wait, by faith and not by frustration, we are offered the rich promise of new strength: “Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary” (Isa 40.31). This is a strength that requires weakness and promises wings.

Interestingly, becoming strong through our weakness is God-like. Not only does God give us wings to fly in faith to new heights, but these wings, in turn, can be a godly source of strength and security for others, as we shepherd them into waiting on the Lord.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!" For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” (Ps 91.1-4)

By waiting on the Lord, I am realizing that we gain a new strength, wings from weakness, that image forth God’s wings, his abounding generosity, protection, and love for his children. By waiting upon his provision and timing, his humbling and giving, I am beginning to truly bank on this all-too-familiar promise, a promise that holds out strength for me and for all whom I shepherd, knowing more deeply the superior source and sense of security that come with dwelling under the wings of the Most High.


At 8:32 PM , Blogger Jeff said...

This really resonates with me. Why am I where I am? When will things change? How do I be content while still yearning for something more?

It was good talking with you lastnight. I look forward to face-to-face. I mentioned Glen Phillips' Mr. Lemons and M. Ward's Post War. I think you'll like the Phillips.


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