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He's Not Here...
He's On A Long Service Leave!
Rev. John Simpson,
Baptist Union Of Victoria
Yes, there's no doubt about it. The Lord is out of town. On leave. It must be another seventh day for Him. Taking a well earned package in some celestial resort. It comes as no surprise. He has had His hands full lately: troubled people, communities, nations. Why do you think He is on LSL, you say? Simple. He must be! Too many of us are carrying on as if He were no longer here.
Serving the Lord has become a very serious business in many places. Long meetings, never ending sermons, continuing problems to solve. Churches not growing; pessimism crushing enthusiasm; congregations falling apart; depleting energy. It's tough in the Kingdom these days. There's no time for joy here let me tell you. If we don't give it all we've got, there's no chance for the Gospel and we'll go down with one final, hand clapping hallelujah. The first generation ever to lose the plot.
Now why are we behaving as if the Lord has gone fishing? We are functioning as if God is not interested in us, the Gospel or His Kingdom. We are fighting battles which do not have to be fought; we are anxious for no purpose; we are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders while the fun of being His friends slipped out the window without us even noticing.
The inevitable hassles of life are having the last say these days. We are much too busy to pray and reflect. If we want to be effective, then it is go, go, go.
Ah, yes, you respond but this is the way of the cross. It is a life of inconvenience, of struggle, of pushing on up hill while the rest of the world ambles down it. Well, that may be true but does that mean that we are on our own?
Absolutely not. "I am with you to the end of the world," He said. "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there." Marvelous guarantees, gilt edged in fact. So why are we attempting to achieve so much in our own strength? How come we are ordering our lives as if every soul within a country mile depended on it? Why are we burning out, losing hope and our cutting edges when there is really no need?
There is a crucial bottom line here (in case you are wondering). This is not our show. The call to ministry was not our idea. The invitation to Christian service did not turn up as a positions vacant ad in last Saturday's Age. Being in this church with these people did not originate with us either. We did not earn special skills for service: they are His gifts to the church through us. The whole box and dice is His, the whole lot. From start to finish. Alpha and Omega.
We are the bit players, edging in from the wings from time to time, saying a few words for God now and then. He is centre stage (as He has always been). This is His drama, played out in His world. We have the huge privilege of being part of the cast. Along with all of God's people, in all places and in all times.
So let's quit the silly game of imagining that it all hinges on us, that if we cannot pull it off the curtains will close with no chance of an encore. Yes, being His servants will get cause us pain and bring snatches of uncertainty and unsettlement. That's the price of being human. But we are meant to enjoy the ride too.
Even when the going is hard there is still meant to be an underlying hunch that all is well, that He is still in charge, that while the wheel may fall off for us occasionally, there are plenty of spares to bolt on again. When all seems lost to us, He is there, powerfully patient with oceans of grace to heal our discouragements. He loves to re-energise us, tune us up, clear out the blockages, get all the plugs firing again. That's His end of the deal because we happen to be part of the plan. There's no need to lose heart just because the chips are down.
So, people, let's get out of His way for once. It's time for us to take a breather, time to reflect on how we can fully enter the divine drama rather than creating our own all the while. You have some heavy anxieties bearing down upon you? Well, try being biblical for a change and hand them over like He said to.
Feeling as if you are on your own? Kick that feeling out of bounds on the full and don't wait for the throw in. He is there for you as He has always been. If He promised to be with Moses and Joshua, what's so special about your case? He knows your address, phone number and E-mail. Besides, He has own ways of staying in touch.
He'll take care of you, your family, your church, your future. May be not exactly in the manner you expected but that's His business. There are no guaranteed outcomes except that He will be with us and will build His church. He loves to be a touch mysterious and never passes up the chance to offer us a lesson or two when we are ready for it.
These are His days; they are good days. Go on, enjoy your call to ministry for a change. The drama allows for that too.
Rev. John Simpson
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This page was revised on: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:04:08 PM