Extraordinary Times Demand Extraordinary Christians
This week we’ll take a brief break from Pilgrim’s journey, as I attempt to share with you the jumble of ideas and impressions God is impressing on my heart, concerning our current crisis in America and the response from God followers. My thoughts here are not unique. God is speaking to millions of prophets, teachers, leaders and honestly, anyone who will listen and obey. I pray that I can stay in the center of the river of his presence and represent him well.
The violent war between darkness and light is flooding our news and social media outlets right now and raising many questions about race relations and the church. Many of us are crying out to God for our country and asking him, “What can I do to make a difference?” Numerous, eloquent, wiser voices than mine, are and will continue to speak and write what they are hearing from God. Read, listen, but more importantly, search the scriptures for yourself. Hear from God yourself. That’s what I’m doing. What he will ask you to do in these unprecedented times will be uniquely different from what he asks of me. And that’s what I want to talk to you about today.
We’ve barely begun to sort out how we go forward as impacting Christians after the lockdowns from COVID 19. Truthfully, I still feel off my game and akimbo, as I process new directives he’s given to me. God spoke loudly to many of us that our ministries and churches were not to return to our previous “normal.” He is calling us to uncharted paths that will spread the gospel in explosive ways. Now, God has allowed another set of extraordinary circumstances to challenge our paradigms and belief systems as Christians. If we simply bunker down and wait for this to pass, we will miss the move of God. He is most certainly moving and amazing stories are surfacing. Sheriffs marching with peaceful protestors. Police officers kneeling before community members to ask forgiveness for past racist behavior. People working side by side to clean up post-riot damage after months of being separated by a deadly virus and its accompanying fears and dangers.
How do these moments happen? How did these people know that these unusual things were the right things for them to do in that moment? I don’t know all these individuals, but I know how God speaks to his children and that is through intimate relationship. I am convinced God is calling millions of us out of our safety zones into risky pursuits. The only way we can move out confidently and boldly is if we are certain we have heard from God. So, let me share briefly, some life principles from a guy God used in a dramatic, never-been-done-before, nation-changing way.
Elijah was a nobody prophet from Nowheresville. He didn’t come from any of the cool cities in ancient times, but from a wild region of self-sufficient folk, considered backwoods by the city dwellers of his day. Yet, God used him to throw down on the wicked royals of Jerusalem, Ahab, and Jezebel, plus 450 prophets of Baal. This event turned the entire nation of Israel back to Jehovah. One guy. By himself. Just him and God. Re-read the amazing story in I Kings 18 and then ask yourself, “What kind of courage and clear direction from God would I need to do something like this?”
Here’s my observations about where Elijah gained his holy hutzpah based on my current Bible study book, “Elijah and the Secret of His Power,” by F. B. Meyer.
- We must be emptied.
Elijah emptied himself of self by the brook Cherith and during his journey to Zarephath. (I Kings 17) Read the story. For three and a half long years, God emptied Elijah of self-sufficiency, and self-dependence. As his self-reliance drained away, the Holy Spirit filled Elijah more and more.
Any place where I am relying more on my own skills, or other people and institutions, is a weak spot that the Holy Spirit cannot use. God wants to deploy all that he has deposited in us, but he wants it to be through the power of his Spirit, not our flesh. Think of yourself as the glove and the Holy Spirit as the hand inside. F. B. says it this way:
“Are we prepared for God to empty us of all that is contrary to his will? Are we content to be empty and broken vessels, that the river, in whose bed we lie, may easily flow through us?”
2.We must be obedient.
I cannot say it any better than F.B. so here you go:
“If only every believer who reads these lines would resolve from this hour to imitate Elijah, who went and did according to the word of the Lord (I Kings 17:5, 8-10)—not with the thought of merit, but beneath the inspiration of love; not in the weightier matters only, but in the crossings of the T’s and in the dotting’s of the I’s—they would find at once that there would open before then a life of almost inconceivable glory.”
Hold on tightly to that phrase, “beneath the inspiration of love.” Because this is how the gospel will go forth right now. Under love.
3.We must live on the Word of God.
Just as God daily replenished the oil and flour for the widow of Zarephath, he will feed us from his word what we need for each day. Our role is to invest the time and mental energy. Remember, the Word is not like any other book, it is alive. He will give us each day, the command, the idea, the challenge, the comfort, or whatever we need to do whatever extraordinary things he will call us to do. What you ate yesterday is not sufficient for today. And don’t live on processed food either, exclusively spending your quiet times with other’s devotional and Bible study thoughts. Those should be but a launch pad for you to dive into the Word yourself and eat some raw vegetables and fruits.
These are indeed extraordinary, historical times we are privileged to live through. I don’t want to miss my destiny, do you? What is he calling you to do that will change you and change the world around you? Every Christian is needed on the frontlines right now, but to know where you are to report for duty will take some serious time in the Word and in your prayer closet.