Something has been gnawing at me since IF:Austin...and it isn't easy or pretty or comfortable.
So...this morning after a strange day yesterday (long story...family matters) that included weirdness and joy in equal measure (welcome to my family)...I wake up from the hardest night of sleep I have had in say weeks, and it feels like I have been asleep for weeks yet the realities of life present themselves pretty quickly...my Sis' house is a constant buzz of activity, especially on Sunday mornings.
I grab a cup of coffee, snuggle up under my quilt, and grab my Bible and start reading...it opened to Matthew on its own and my eyes fall to 9:9, The Calling of Matthew, and I am punctured...
"On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
I keep reading...
...and then like a slap, 9:35, The Workers Are Few...
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
God wasn't done...because while I was letting his words soak in and grabbing a gulp of coffee...I see that Ann Voskamp posted this...Jason Gray's With Every Act of Love (click the link for the You Tube video that includes lyrics).
|My Favorite T-Shirt "I need a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus" and this photo is on my way to Haiti, October 2014|
Allow me a digression....or two..;)
I have always been an avid reader. In grade school I was highly competitive (shocker) in reading competitions...how many books can you read?...as many as you will put in my hands. There would be prizes, but I didn't care because the reading was my prize. I credit my parents, especially my father, for giving me the gift of books because before the bottom fell out of our family, my memories are full of photographs from them reading to me, teaching me to read (before Kindergarten), and encouraging my reading...thank yous abound there.
So...it is no surprise that when God was looking to grab my heart and shake it up a few years ago (i.e., take me deeper in my walk with him then I had/was/am comfortable with), he started with the place he knew he could get my attention...books. He didn't go easy on me either because he started with John Eldredge who I had never heard of and Eldredge definitely had thoughts on...well, everything, that I in my own spiritual upbringing had NEVER heard of...he introduced me to a Jesus I had not been raised with, and a concept of circumcision of heart over legalism that was so foreign to me, if I had been trying to read the Bible in its original Greek, well it would have been easier for me. So...as I fell in love with the concepts of Eldredge's words....it was the tone and cadence of his writing that lulled me in first. I mean it felt like he was reading right to my heart. It was powerful. What God started with Eldredge lit a match because I started consuming everything Eldredge had written as well as other Christian writers...especially ones that challenged my heart, mind, and soul. I needed to be challenged; God had set the hook. Perfectly.
What has transpired since 2010 has bordered on obsession after I purchased an obscene amount of books and digested them. By digested I mean, I can't share them because they are highlighted, bookmarked, tagged, and battered. I have read books from writers I had never heard of, would have NEVER....loving some, loathing some, and being challenged Every. Single. Time. It has been a journey.
When I have fallen in love with a book, I search after the author...it is easy these days too because most of them have a platform in one way or another...so you can learn about other things they have written, learn more about them, etc. It is a blessing and a curse...for you and them.
I had not realized until IF:Austin how much we have created a culture of idolatry around some of the writers and speakers in the church today. It borders on the obscene. I also had to face a hard reality that I too am susceptible to it. With some, I am the absolute WORST about it.
When I met John Eldredge the first time it was with a lot of hesitation that I approached him, but I felt the need in my heart to simply say thank you. What transpired was a very REAL conversation between two people completely in love with Jesus. It was a brief interaction that will stay with me the rest of my days because it was real, brief, and important. I think it is important for a writer to hear that something touched someone's heart (I write, and I love to hear that.), and I think it is important for readers to say thank you. Win-Win.
What I saw during a couple of moments at IF was a sort of hero worship that made me uncomfortable and by the sound of some of the speaker's words...they weren't too comfortable with it either...
"That ALL men and women. And hear me, I also said women, can now enter into the Holy of Holies and can never be separated from the love of God. People, stop idolizing man, and man, stop being made an idol. Stop rushing back to your green rooms. Church is not a rock concert. Stay and minister to everyone that asks. Because it is a PRIVILEGE AND A GIFT TO MINISTER. Pray over people until your heart has bled dry. And then ask for another measure of anointing to keep going. You should be SO FORTUNATE that God has entrusted you with this task to minister."
That snippet was from Rebekah Lyons' teaching during IF:Austin and if you think it is powerful to read (and I recommend you click the link and see the whole thing), you should have been in the room. #micdrop
Speakers....did you hear that??
Heather....did you hear that???
She wasn't the only one to address it...and it was striking out to both those on stage and those in the seats. Have we lost our way a little seemed to be an undercurrent of the teachings. Where is our focus? Someone's platform? Building our own?
One of my favorite moments was when Christine Caine pointed out that Joshua had been serving God and his people for over 40 years before he was called to lead. What. A. Great. Point.
Church...did you hear that??
Heather....did you hear that???
I have been searching my heart HARD since IF to determine where I am both idol worshipping authors/teachers that I love, AND where I am out of touch with my own people (friends/family/co-workers/neighbors/etc) in my own life that I have been given the opportunity to minister to.
My friend Lee has been beating into my head for nearly two years that we are all ministers, and God used IF to show me that.
Platforms are dangerous.
I don't want a platform. I want to be so busy ministering to others and being Jesus that I don't realize that others have given me a platform, put me on a platform, or the world has deemed that I am worthy of a platform.
God doesn't need leaders, he needs workers.
We already have a leader, and he is pretty amazing...I think he's Got. It.
I was in a bowling alley last night with the kids and all I could think was....there are a lot of people on this earth. How many of them need some good news?
The Workers Are Few
I just read Matthew 9:12-13 again..Jesus said, "...but go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'...and 9:37-38 "...the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few....ask the Lord to send workers..."
That is you and me. That is the great author. That is the pastor. That is the part-time employee at your office. That is your sister. That is your child. That is the stranger. That is ALL of us.
The Workers Are Few
So....I love that people read my words and find something in these words that helps them; it still surprises me. I hope that the authors I love feel the blessing that others love their words. I don't want to be a rock star though, and I don't want to do that to others. I am satisfied simply being a worker. I am going to keep reading other's words and writing my own....and I still secretly want to have coffee with John Eldredge and hear the whole story about how God did and continues to completely wreck his life, but I am good with that happening on the other side of this life in the coffee house that I am confident there is in heaven. On this side of heaven, I just want to do my part in living out Jesus' love in every part of my walk. That means being as obsessed with the Bible and its author as I am with those who put their pants on one leg at a time just like me. It also means being as obsessed at being a worker as I have ever been with being a leader.
"...do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."
Matthew 10:19-20 nailed it....it isn't about me or my words...because they shouldn't be my words anyway....I am but a vessel.
Use me Lord. Fill my heart with a never-ending love for others. Let me never tire of speaking of you with others. Let me be a light. Let me be a worker.
Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)