Afraid of Myself
I am a huge fan of story! Narrative is such a dying art. Stories like the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Gladiator, Braveheart, stories with epic feel to them stir something in me. Those that know me well know I reference things from these stories often to connect ideas. Recently I was watching “The Return of the King,” which may be my favorite of the trilogy, and it got to the part where Gollum and Smeagol were talking to each other. Of course if you know the story, they are the same. My wife, who is a fourth grade teacher, spoke up and said,
“if my kids were watching this they would think it was two different characters that look alike.” My response was,
“that’s exactly the point.”
I feel that way sometimes. I feel like I’m arguing with “myself,” knowing that war that rages within me.
I still remember back in June of 2012, the first time I heard God tell me to host a discipleship conference. I pray I never forget that. I had some doubts to say the least. I began praying and seeking advice from anyone who would listen, from anyone who would speak into me. I said many times, probably more than I care to admit, that I was scared. I was scared of how big this idea, this vision was. Fast forward to the summer of 2013. I find myself in a new but very similar situation. God is telling me to not only host the conference again but that Ordinary is going to be the flag I carry for His kingdom. Again I began praying and speaking to people about what to expect, how to pray, and what to be prepping for. Many times again I said how scared I was.
I recently found myself face to face with that fear. So close to it that I could feel it breathing down my neck, so close I could name it. That fear was my self. It was in a conversation that I was having with a friend, a conversation where I was supposedly pouring into her, that God spoke to me. In order to accomplish a God sized vision, which is what I was asking for, I had to yank the self out of me and nail it to the cross.
Oswald Chambers, author of “My Utmost For His Highest” says it this way:
“It is easier to serve God without a vision, easier to work for God without a call, because then you are not bothered by what God requires; common sense is your guide, veneered over with Christian sentiment. But if once you truly hear the full commission of Jesus Christ, the awareness of what God wants will be your goal from that point on, and you will no longer be able to work for Him on the basis of common sense.”
I received my call and so can no longer us common sense as an excuse. I have a little better understanding that it is a God sized one that’s going to take a miracle to accomplish.
Herb Hodges tells a story in his book, “Tally Ho, The Fox” that goes like this:
“Some years ago, a great Southern Baptist pastor was praying prostrate on the floor of his study one morning, asking God for an anointing of the Holy Spirit’s power upon his ministry. Over and over, he passionately pleaded with God. ‘Lord, give me Your power.’ Every serious preacher has prayed this prayer with earnest appeal. However, he declared that suddenly it seemed that the roof over him opened and a hand came down and touched his shoulder and it seemed that God’s voice spoke within him, saying, ‘My son, stop praying!’ When he became quiet, the Voice seemed to clearly say, ‘My son, with plans no bigger than yours, you don’t need My power!’”
Wow! Talk about an absolute gut check. The truth is, God sized vision does scare me because I realize that I can’t be in control. My ministry can’t be, as Mr. Chambers says it, guided by common sense, veneered over with Christian sentiment.
Christ follower, can your life, your ministry be explained away very naturally or does it take something supernatural to make it work. When I feel scared or unnerved about the plans and calling God has given me, I take it back to Him. I take up my cross and walk it up that hill knowing that it will be myself on it and march on for His glory, usually stumbling, kicking, and fighting much of the way.
I pray this is two things: First, I pray that this encourages you. That you know you’re not alone on the road you walk. Secondly, that this would be, as it was for me, a huge gut check. That the reality of God and His power would sink into your mind and life.