When God says Stop!
Part 1: The Call To Start...
You might as well know it now if you're going to spend any time with Jesus - He is not a God who stands still for long.
He will astound you and surprise you.
He will blow your mind and enlarge your heart.
He will put His finger right on the pulse of where God is at work in your life.
He will wash over you with waves of grace and patience and truth and love until you're transformed from the inside out.
He will pour His Spirit into you, and fill your very being with new ability and authority and passion and purpose.
And He will send you and stretch you to serve in His kingdom!
He might send you to another part of the world, or another part of town or simply to another person!
But wherever it is He has in mind, He goes before you and He goes with you! We are called to follow Him after all!
- On your Marks...
We see this dynamic working it's way out in the life of the disciples - in Mark 1:17 Jesus strolls up the shore and literally bellows to two brothers:
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
Up until then it had been an ordinary day, these were two ordinary fishermen shutting down the tools of their trade after a long night shift on the lake they'd known since childhood... but then a stranger with a strange invitation opened up a whole new world right before them. The same-old, same-old suddenly will never-be-the-same again!
They jump in with both feet.
And everything changed.
I will send you...
Fish for people...
It is brilliantly simple - like breathing in and breathing out:
- Jesus calls... and we follow.
- Jesus sends... and we go.
The first call is to come - to spend time with Jesus until we are saturated in His love, His power, His reality, His way - life in the kingdom starts with life with the King!
And so they leave the safe and familiar surroundings of home and work, for months on the open road watching lives completely turned upside down by Jesus - He is not a God who stands still for long.
- Get set...
Five chapters (or about eighteen months later) the Jesus who has modelled the way that life-was-always-meant-to-be-lived now sends the disciples out in pairs to go and do the same!
Calling the Twelve to Him, He began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.
These were His instructions:
“Take nothing for the journey except a staff - no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.
Wear sandals but not an extra shirt.
Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.
And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”
Don't take supplies?
That doesn't sound like it's going to be a very productive mission right? But listen again, the call isn't just painfully simple but it is powerfully focused.
Just go in Jesus' full authority.
Just go and do what Jesus would do.
And Mark records for us the results:
They went out and preached that people should repent.
They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
They went to those who hadn't heard the message.
They preached to those who didn't know they could be free.
They brought freedom to those in spiritual oppression.
They brought healing to those in physical distress.
- Beyond the bag of tricks...
If you know me well you know I'm a creative type - and I love the creative mission of God. Give me a sofa on a street, or "blessings" to write for people, or free welsh cakes to give away, or a big art project that people can take part in, or any excuse to talk about Jesus with people - and I'm there!
And whereas that creative side, the "project junkie" part of my personality is not bad or wrong - the challenge in the call of Jesus here is far deeper even than that.
Reading these verses from Mark, it doesn't sound much like Jesus was envisioning that mission would be at special events on special days for specialist people. Someone once summarised His instructions here as: "Go simply, and simply go...!"
For me the real challenge to is recognise the call to go is not just to sprint at PR stunts, but to be open to share Jesus in the here and the now.
Part 2: The Call to Stop...
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all they had done and taught.
So they come tearing back to Jesus just absolutely buzzing
with this stuff. You can imagine a cascade of voices, stories, excitement, confidence:
"People actually listened to us!"
"People actually repented!"
"People were actually healed!"
"Demons actually fled in Your name!"
"It all actually worked. just like you said it would..!"
If we want to see the kingdom actually touching people's lives it means actually doing what Jesus did.
"And so, what next Jesus?"
"Where next, Lord?"
"When's the next time we get to do this?"
And Jesus looks at His disciples and says:
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Isn't that the exact opposite
of what You first told us?
Well, maybe not - read those words again to yourself a few times, as slowly as possible...
Come with me...
to a quiet place...
and get some rest.
Don't say I'd didn't warn you that Jesus would surprise you.
Sometimes God says... stop...
Stop what exactly?
He doesn't say "stop being with me..." but this time come by yourself.
Away from any noise and distraction - even the very best of distractions - and get some rest.
Sometimes the most Godly thing you can do is take a break.
Have a breather.
Be reminded that this is His world, His work, and it'll keep spinning without you.
Be reminded that, as exhilarating as purpose is, divorced from Him it can become self-serving rather than God-honouring.
Be reminded that Jesus wants time with you - not just because He loves what you can do... but because He actually does just love you for you.
Rest in that.
Breathe that in.
Because when that truth, that reality takes a hold on your soul, nothing can ever be the same-old, same-old ever again. We need to be people who are absolutely captured and captivated by that. Those are kind of people, utterly and completely convinced of God's love, grace and power, are undoubtedly the ones who change the world.
My dad has a beautiful phrase here that I come back to so often: "We cannot lead people where we have not been." That captures it so perfectly for me - it needs to seen in us before it can heard from us.
- Stopping Distances...
If you've ever wondered whether if you're speeding in your car, but you're out and about doing the Lord's work, whether the Lord will protect you from your speeding fine... I'm here to tell you that He won't. I heard it from a friend...
I won't ask if you've done the Speed Awareness Course they offer to first time speeding offenders in lieu of paying the fine, but you've probably gathered from above that I have.
One of the things they help you to understand is the reason for different speed limits lies in this simple science: The Faster you are going, the longer it will take you to stop.
I think it means stopping for a moment every day for quality time with Jesus.
I think it means stopping for a day every single week.
I think it means blocking out weeks of the year to get away.
I think it means avoiding all the distractions, unplugging from all the connections, tuning out from all the demands, and simply breathing in the reminder: this is His world, His work, and it will spin quite happily without me for a while.
It's good for the ego to be reminded that it doesn't all depend on you.
It's essential for the soul to be reminded that God loves you for you, not for what you do.
Part 3: Season-spotting...
So what about you?
What is God saying to you? ...right now? ...today?
The key thing always
is the call of Jesus - is He calling you to come-and-fish
, or to come-and-rest
? Is He saying: "Start somewhere"
or "Stop something."
Maybe one of those phrases sounds strange or foreign to you, but both are biblical.
Maybe you need just need to have permission today to explore one of those and allow it open a new season of spiritual growth in your life.
Whether you're in start or stop mode - both seasons are part of following Jesus. It's vital. It's part of a healthy rhythm. We come to Him to breathe Him in so that we can breathe Him out.
- Hitting the Refresh Button...
My experience is that the Lord often comes to us in themes and as part of my own walk with the Lord, the word "fresh" seems to keep coming up a lot recently. So much so that I ended up studying the word "refresh" in the scriptures, and out of that I wanted to share what I discovered to be eight streams that scriptures commend to us as ways in which God can refresh us. (See here
for more details).
I've recorded these, and they will be going out on our bethel:live channel as "thought for the days" on Tuesdays and Thursdays in August. You can find the playlist here
on our youtube site: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnUhxuRF294EmAL0MXmZRXQWE_YyTQKTk
- if you're not already, subscribing to our channel is free and if you click on the little bell icon you'll be notified whenever new content is uploaded.
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty good at resting - it's the resting with Jesus that can be difficult, it's so much easier to live for
Him than with
Him somehow right? So I'm just hoping and praying that these might punctuate our summer with reminders of His presence and refreshers in our thinking and praying...
Also excited to share that while I'm away in August (and even when I'm not) there will be opportunity to receive ministry on Sundays from people within the fellowship! I'm really looking forward to what God
has to say through them, please do support and encourage them.
If we miss each other over the next few weeks - have a really great summer, and I really hope and pray that whatever season you're in God will refresh
and bless you hugely!
Loads of love and prayers,