This past year I was sitting in a prayer meeting asking the Lord to speak His will clearly to me, how I was to serve Him in a way that pleased Him. In his still quiet voice that rumbles deeply into your soul I sensed him asking me “to be so given to him that I didn’t matter.” I felt called to care about what he felt and thought more than what I wanted. I was instantly aware of how much of my time seeking him had been focused on getting answers from God that would please me, relieve me of my great fear of not getting what I thought I needed to make me happy, give me identity, and cause others to respect me.
As I began the process of not seeking him for my gain, but to understand his heart, what he felt towards me, my family, my neighbors, our churches, etc., it has been more of a struggle than I want to admit to care about what he cares about rather than what I care about.
As I am sitting in a public prayer room writing this article there is a man that has some social awkwardness, but a beautiful heart, who keeps talking to me and drawing attention to us. My concern is not how can I bless this man or what is Jesus leading me to give or receive from Him, but instead my thoughts and worries go to the fact that others are looking and that they might think I am with him and that I am socially awkward also. God seems to be providing a test for my heart concerning the very things I’m addressing here.
I can find myself falling prey to the temptations Paul told us man would struggle with in the last days in 2 Timothy 3:2,5: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud,” and . . . worse, “having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
I believe the Lord looks at the Friends movement and sees a beautiful future where he can move freely amongst his people seeking his ways, his heart. I believe that he loves the way we, and the people that came before us, have sought him and cared for the things that he cares about. We can operate out of his peace as we continue in the ways the Lord led us through George Fox with statements like this, “If you do anything in your own will, then you tempt God; but stand still in that power that brings peace.” When we stand still in that power, the power of Christ, will peace and power not come on our individual lives and our gatherings that will please him, draw the lost, and heal?
The beautiful invitation to us individually and in our gatherings is displayed in John’s great wisdom, “‘A person can receive only what is given them from heaven’” and ending with the wonderful joy of being his sons and daughters. “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:27,30).
In ways that your preferences, your hopes, and your wants have robbed you of being given to him, let’s pray for each other and encourage each other to follow John’s wisdom. Our lives, our ministries, our churches will represent the revelation George Fox encountered when he said, “The Lord showed me, so that I did see clearly, that he did not dwell in these temples which men had commanded and set up, but in people’s hearts . . . his people were his temple, and he dwelt in them.” Our best days are ahead of us, my Friends!
Tony Wheeler, EFC-MAYM Superintendent of Pastoral and Church Health