Yesterday we had loads of fun at Exploration [our monthly gathering of pastors and planters in So Cal, conversating around matters of common import]. Using the TEDtalk model of shorter discussions, we looked at how we can deepen our devotion times with Jesus -
Lisa Proctor did a fabulous job talking very honestly about preparing our soul privately so as to be publicly helpful;
Todd Proctor walked us into his private devotional world esp in worship;
I stepped in for Ger Jones who was not able to be there, chatting around "How do I pray for me?"
Matt Larson journeyed us through "Meditation and the Sacred Text".
So stepping up to the plate a little late, I asked myself some very honest questions. The first was - "Why do I still love Jesus and His bride after all these years?" I can't say it has always been easy. There was a window of around 8 years that were excruciatingly painful. But in the light of 30 plus years of ministry there has been some very amazing God times of privilege as well.
Here are some of my honest thoughts as I sought to answer that question:
After around 30 years of ministry and around 35 years of walking with Jesus, I would have to say, the reasons I still love the Lord and his church are because:
- An incredible wife who has loved Jesus and me more than she has loved her dreams and desires - Meryl has been a most wonderful God-gift to me. Not trying to be disparaging, she has never been a light-weight cheerleader. She bought into the God journey with the same sacrifice and passion as I did. With her deep love for the bride and her profound prophetic insight she has given herself away without reserve. Matching that with weighty wisdom, she has been a sublime co-laborer in the kingdom. She taught me much about that kind of love.
- My kids who have loved the Lord and his bride and seen our journey as theirs - They have been amazing as they have dived into this adventure where "we have no talent for certainty" [thanks Daena for the Jane Austen quote]. All of our major moves of obedience have come out of left field, where the pathway that the Father opened for us, was not one we wanted, imagined or even prayed for. The kids took the steps with us, without combat yet seeking to find their own faith for the vulnerabilities.
- My friends who have loved me for who I am, not for the gift I bring, when the ‘friendship’ is purely functional, it will come to an end when the assignments ends - We have all tried to build around and through a relational matrix. Sometimes we have done it well and way too many times, we have done it badly. Some of the most painful lessons we had to learn were those relationships that were really true and valuable but simply for that season of function. When the function changed, so the relationships drifted to the album of yesterday's memories. That was very difficult to understand initially. But then through the mists of heart ache come the true and authentic friendships, that were never created for a one off season only. These men and women who love us for who we are, without position or title. This exquisite love, deep and meaningful, has withstood the deepest and darkest days. I love Jesus and His bride in part, because these friends love me, warts and all.
- My devotional life - when God called me to himself in the early hours of the morning, not in legalism but in love - I have no doubt that Jesus calling me to the early hours with him everyday has been my most sublime empowering moments. This was never a duty or an obligation. I wanted to have my daily 'dad' time! This was not Chris the vision-caster, or the ideator, or the apostolic-catalyst, pastor or teacher. This was the Father / son daily date. It is about Him and me. The conversation is richly documented in my journal, as each day's conversation unfolded. Here I could be honest - fully, completely without the slightest fear that he would dismiss my naked humanity, in despair. Rather, he would love me, correct me, listen to me and leave me with a fresh glimmer of hope and a new well from which to draw.
Thank you for reading this honest reflection. There is no time to let our light of love grow dim. The bride deserves rivers of living water that comes from our life and lips. He is worthy our praise and she is worthy of our love.