A journey always starts with the first step being taken! There is the issue of preparation for the road less travelled to be taken into account and the knowledge that we do not journey alone! He is with us!
Over the years we have felt that loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength is so vital in following Jesus. In other words having an on-going love relationship with the Lord as a priority. That love is born out of a work of grace in the heart and a cultivated intimacy with Him.
“Be a new and different person with a freshness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experiences how his ways will really satisfy you. ” [Romans 12:2 TLB]
Our dear friend John Beaumont has said, “A love walk with Christ cannot be maintained where self-will affects the relationship.” It seems appropriate that we share with you a letter sent to John after someone in New Zealand had read the book, “A God Filled Nobody” and asked for help to enter the things of the Lord written about in it.
Thank you for asking if I would be willing to give some direction on how to enter the things of the Lord that I have written about in ‘AGFN’. Let me share some things that have been significant in my own life and which may give some pointers to you. I will start with two or three things that have been a major emphasis in my life and ministry over the years.
1. An intimate on-going love relationship with the Lord Jesus is vital. A love walk with Christ cannot be maintained where self-will affects the relationship. I have considered that in coming to know the Lord there should be a big “YES!” that lasts for a lifetime. Thereafter one shouldn’t consider what is best and easiest for us or what is most acceptable to others. In a sense I shouldn’t even ask myself if I will follow a certain course of action or not, but simply answer whether it is what the Lord asks of me or not. Lord means ‘Boss’
A sub-standard gospel that invites people to accept Christ as Saviour and then speaks of Lordship later brings all kinds of pain both to the seeker and to the body of Christ.
Many years ago I was particularly struck by the words in Jesus’ John 17 prayer, that we might be as one with him as He is with the Father. It was awfully audacious, but I decided to accept that His prayer was answered unless He notified me otherwise. In this kind of relationship peace like a river should be an on-going blessing. From that point we can “Let the peace of God be the referee [judge, arbiter] in our hearts.” In sporting terms, if the referee blows the whistle, disturbing the peace I enjoy then, so to speak, the infringement is faced up to and the penalty accepted. Thus God’s wonderful peace is restored to one’s heart.
2. Since love hears even a whisper, coming to a place of being able to clearly and consistently hear God should be a simple consequence of our love walk with Christ. We need to trust our heart, for that is where He dwells and where he gives clear impression of His will for us.
I link with the above thoughts the inestimable value of a sensitive walk in the Spirit where we gladly respond to Him regardless of any anticipated consequences. I love Kenneth Wuest’s translation, “Don’t be drunk with wine…but be constantly controlled by the Spirit.” Miracles of grace ensue from this kind of walk.
Some of the consequences of the above emphases are:
1. Breaking free from ‘slavery to the visible’. Very special to me is Paul’s statement in Ephesians 1:3.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Surely to be seated with Christ in the heavenly realms is to be very alive in the unseen realm of the Spirit. Can we see God in everything around us – either by comparison or contrast?
I know that away back in my life I spent weeks watching to see what I could learn about God’s love through everything that is visible. For example, seeing His love in the smile of an innocent child, or being glad at the contrast when seeing a parent treat a child atrociously, knowing that God in His wonderful love would act very differently indeed. Perhaps this was part of my facing up to the kind of dad I had and coming where I could contrast God with him, blessing my heavenly Father that he would not act like that, nor treat one of his children like that. Later my focus for a season was on His wisdom…and then His power and so on.
2. Becoming free to be myself as God wants me to be. What a blessing! Each of us is uniquely different and should not allow ourselves to be regimented into a clone-ish likeness to others in God’s family. One aspect of this is refusing to follow the traditions of men – even Christian leaders – when doing so would detract from the primary emphases God has placed in our lives. This kind of walk can enable us to return to the simplicity that there is in Jesus.
I contacted a pastor in up-state New York on one occasion because I had heard he was saying that when I had ministered in his church I had privately advised folk to leave. I would never do that! His reply staggered me. He said that he knew I was too high principled to ever do such a thing, but I had a strong emphasis in my ministry of urging people to love God with their whole heart, revelling in His love, and to learn to hear Him clearly, responding to Him wholeheartedly. He said that the consequence of that was obvious – people left the church!
3. There is an alone-ness in godliness, and some seasons especially so. This is invaluable in weaning us away from an over reliance on men and man-made church systems and structures. Some have found real blessing in looking to the Lord to fill the gap of friendships they have had in the past. Our experience is that we may have fewer friends, but there is a depth of friendship between folk who walk similarly to the way God has led us that far out-weighs any loss of former friends.
There are other consequences, such as seeing that being a friend of sinners is an important part of Christlikeness, but I will not dwell on them now.
Sometimes I have advised folk that they should start with recognizing that God has either brought them to where they are or at least allowed them to come to such a place. Then it becomes simpler to take the next one step He makes clear to them. Life is one step at a time. Sometimes it seems to be a slow walk and other times very rapid. There is truth in the old saying, “One step and then another and the longest walk is ended.”
I don’t quite know how to write this, but I know it is important when praying about a problem or need not to focus on that issue. It is far better, so to speak, to look above it and worship the Lord for the aspect of His character and essential being that parallels it. An illustration might be that rather than a lengthy praying for peace in a troubling situation, to worship the Prince of Peace, blessing Him for promising peace to His followers and for making peace like a river available to the least of God’s children.
This has become a long letter. I have enjoyed setting out these things for you, Bob, and would always be glad to receive any question you may like to send me. Not, of course, that I have all the answers, but rather that I may see if there is anything the Lord would have me pass on to you.
One last thought. When I was co-pastor at the Hamilton Baptist church some of the leaders came to me and said, “There is nothing that you are saying or doing that we can find fault with, but we don’t know where you are taking us.” My answer: “I don’t know where we are going either! All I am doing is receiving one step at a time from the Lord and passing it on to you.” Life in the Spirit is like driving on a misty morning. If we wait until we can see the next corner or the end of the road we’ll never even start the journey. Moving in what has been shown [revealed] to us will enable us to see the next hundred metres of the road.”