Monday, September 25, 2006

Some random musings

Well, I'm going to try to get back to posting at least once a day - though you'll have to forgive me if my posts are still a bit shorter than you're used to here at first, as my arm still hurts and my wrist is still in a brace... so typing is a bit harder.

There are a few things that have stood out to me in the last week or so, and I think I'll just try to touch on a few of them in brief rather than elaborating at length on any of them.

The first thing is actually something I only resolved today. I've had a growing sense of unsettledness over the last several days, and simultaneously been experiencing a certain degree of conviction about a particular behavior of mine. It wasn't a bad thing, but rather something somewhat unwise, and the more I prayed about it the more the Spirit just convicted me that I wasn't really honoring Him by continuing to act in that way. It wasn't sinful in and of itself, but it would become so if I ignored His counsel and continued on as I was - because inevitably it would cause difficulties down the line; He wanted to prevent that, and my ignoring Him would have amounted to outright disobedience. The moment I followed through on what I knew I needed to do, it was as though a load had been lifted from me. It's so refreshing to be increasingly attentive to His voice, and sensitive to the little (but oh so important!) leadings that He gives us. The more we're in His presence, the more we're aware of His word, the easier it is for us to sense His will for us. It's a huge blessing.

On to the next point: There was a moment midway through last week when, at one particular place on the North Oval of campus here, another spiritual point simply leapt out at me. It was so striking that it literally pulled me to a stop, and I had to pause and process for a moment what it was that so jarred me as to stop my train of thought and thoroughly hijack it. Right as I crossed the street again, walking toward the Union, I heard a snatch of a conversation someone was having on her cell phone - I have no idea who she was, or what the conversation was about; all I recall was that there was such intensity over a subject so banal and momentary that it literally stopped me where I was. It took me a few seconds to realize what bothered me so much about it. Finally, it clicked as I glanced around at everyone around me, let my attention simultaneously catch for a moment on the vine-draped walls and the straps of my backpack digging into my shoulder.

This existence is so temporal, so momentary, such a passing thing. Almost everything we do is of little value to eternity; it has almost no bearing on the parts of our existence that really matter. And yet we pour so much effort into it. Don't get me wrong - it's important that we do our earthly tasks with our whole hearts, "as unto the Lord," and "without grumbling or disputing," but we all too often get so caught up in the momentary distractions of this life that we lose sight of our ultimate purpose. Yes, our daily affairs are important - certainly, we ought to consider them so: Almighty God does, and who are we to disagree with Him? - but when we lose our vision of the eternal, when we let slip from our grasp our understanding not only of where we are but where we are going, we risk losing also our ability to prioritize properly, to realize where our attention ought to lie, to seize opportunities that arise and let pass by those we ought not to take. If studying for an exam or helping a friend with a problem or singing a song in church is the best way you can serve God at this moment, then go do it. If it's not, then stop doing it and do what will glorify Him and make His purpose and glory known. It's a brutal challenge, but then again we have abiding in us the very same Spirit - and the same power - that raised Christ Jesus from the dead. So we're able.

On that note, I had a similar moment when going to Catlett Music Center earlier in the same week. Striding purposefully on the sidewalk, caught up in conversation with the Lord, pouring out my heart to Him and seeking His vision and wisdom for the day ahead, I had one of those stunning moments where the curtain falls away just a little and you glimpse His heart better than you ever have. The Spirit reminded me of something John Kelsey has shared with those of us at the BSU repeatedly. If - and this is a generous estimate by any consideration - there are a total of 5000 students at OU involved in Christian organizations of any sort, from a Bible study to a campus ministry to a church, that's still only 1/6 of the student population at the school. In reality, the number is probably closer to 3000 at best. And of those, how many are simply "cheerleaders" so to speak - people getting fed, but not actively participating; people enjoying fellowship but not choosing to be challenged to grow; people seeing the fruits of others' labors but refusing to go and actively evangelize the people around them? The answer is a lot. I know I've been guilty of every one of those sins, especially the last, since I've been here, and I'm grateful to God for how He's worked changes in each of those areas in me in the last year. But that last in particular, He has increased my heart for, as He did that day. Because if 1/6 of the people on this campus are saved... then there are 25000 people right here around me every day that are currently on the road that leads directly to hell.

Thinking about that breaks my heart now just as it did then. And you know what breaks my heart even more? OU is probably one of the most churched and Christian (and I use those distinctly for a reason) public universities in the entire United States. And most of the people here have never heard the gosple preached. Most of them won't, either, unless we get up and go tell them. "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of thsoe who bring good news of good things!'" We been sent, and we have good news. That's Romans 10, by the way, one of the most challenging chapters you can read when it comes to developing a heart from those around you. Are we willing to take up the challenge and go, to take up our cross daily - that means real persecution, not a week full of tests, by the way - for the sake of seeing people come to Jesus Christ? The way is hard, the road laden with difficulty. But Jesus promised us we'd have trials... the servant, after all, is not greater than the master. I'm following Him.

The final thing I've noted is just how essential it is to be in God's presence continually. It's been a recurring theme in my own times of quiet contemplation, in Ronnie's sermons, even in my times of discipleship - both in being discipled myself and in discipling others. I've been blessed to be catching a sense of what that really means. I think Ronnie probably put it best on Sunday, though, describing exactly what I've been learning to be doing: "It means thinking in a God-centered way. If it's an 'attitude of prayer,' then it's one that includes a lot of praying. That means going through your day and thinking, Oh, this happened, thank you, God! and God, this is hard, I need your wisdom, and God what are you saying about this situation in this person's life, and when a person asks for prayer for something, to pray right then. If you wait you'll forget." (I paraphrased slightly, but not much.) That's exactly what the Spirit has been teaching me in the last week. J. Oswald Sanders, in Spiritual Leadership, notes that one of the traits that sets apart the spiritual leader from someone who remains ineffective for the kingdom is this: that the spiritual leader, instead of daydreaming, prays.

What does that mean? I've seen it come out in a couple ways. First, exactly what it says: pray for the people around you, for wisdom in your own circumstances, for God's will to be done in situations you see arise, for the guy who cuts you off while driving down the road, for the girl you see walking down campus. Just pray - it's really not that complicated. Talk to God. The other point which is extremely important is this: memorize Scripture, and keep it with you so you can review it and turn it over in your mind as you go throughout your day. It becomes your sword for spiritual warfare (see Ephesians 6:17), and it teaches you how to meditate on who God is, as well as becoming a tool for the Spirit - for conviction, for wisdom, for encouragement (all of those both for you and for those around you), for the power of salvation in the lives of the unsaved.

How radically different do our lives begin to look when we take every waking moment and submit it to the leading of the Spirit, when we really do "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ Jesus" (2 Cor. 10:5)? Honestly, I can't say, because I'm not there yet - but I can say that what I've seen as I've practiced it just in the last few weeks has changed my life, changed my perspective on almost every situation I've encountered. It's hard to be truly frustrated or angered when you are consciously choosing to bring your mind back to what God is saying in each circumstance. As I noted a few days ago, peace really just means that your attention is off of the circumstance and on God instead. And one hears the Spirit so much more clearly, has insights that were never available before, is so much more aware of the underlying spiritual realities of each situation, sees opportunities for ministry, receives both conviction and encouragement unlike before - it's a thoroughly exhilirating experience, and not in an emotional sense (quite the opposite - it's draining to adjust to). To be centered on God, to live a Christ-centered life, is a reward beyond words, though, beyond my ability to convey with the best symphony I could write. Dare to pursue Him completely and see what happens.

So much for a shorter post. God's blessings on all of you - "Peace be to the bretheren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all thsoe who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love." (Eph. 6:23-24)

- Chris

1 comment:

  1. Hi some interesting points there. I have been fighting Depression alot lately and I see SO MUCH that is Banal and see so many who are way to focused on the here and now and have NO thought to eternity.
    A small side note Your black background with white letters is VERY hard to read.


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