“There is no other way to retain continuity with the apostles than to keep on doing what they did.” –Carl E. Braatens
I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.
I love my son and out of the depth of that love, I want to bless him in ways he doesn’t begin to understand. It goes well beyond a basic desire for him to have food, water, shelter and clothes. It’s more than buying toys and going to movies and playing sports. I provide those things when I can but they only scratch the surface of the blessings I want to give him. Those things are great, but want to bless him in ways that he just can’t “get” with his 6 year old thinking.
I want to bless him with things like these…
- I want him to have the best education possible.
- I want him to be self-disciplined and well-mannered.
- I want him to live in an unescapable wave of God’s vision.
- I want him to know that his mother and father are completely devoted to each other.
- I want him to be uncomfortable in a culture of entitlement.
- I want him to sweat in his neighbor’s service.
- I want him to default to gratitude and thanksgiving.
I want to bless my son in ways that go far beyond feeding him well and giving him nice things. He understands that I provide for his needs (and a good portion of his wants) but he has absolutely no idea how deep my desire to bless him goes. And because he just doesn’t “get” it, he often blocks his ability to receive the blessing I’m laying at his feet. He is at an age where life is completely self-centered and his personal definition of “comfort” determines most of his decisions.
So many of the blessings I want to pass to him are inherently uncomfortable. Studying, self-denying, serving, thanking, surrendering and loving stretch us out of our comfort zones and force us to grow.
I want to bless my son with gifts that will change his life. But he’ll have to lay aside his comfort to accept my gift. Waiting for him to “get” it has been (and will continue to be) frustrating. And the journey has left me with a very difficult question that I’ve struggled to answer…
How many blessings has God tried to shower down on me just to have me block them with the umbrella of my personal comfort?
Father, help me lay aside my idea of comfort so that Your gifts can change my life…
1 Timothy 4:12-14
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
If you’ve been around the Church for long at all, you’ve heard Paul’s words to Timothy… “Don’t let anyone look down on you…” Great words of encouragement to younger Christians trying to grow in leadership, but how often do we stop short and totally skip that last line?
“Do not neglect your gift…”
It sounds very similar to Paul’s second letter to Timothy… “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 Timothy 1:6)
This very cool thing happens when you allow God’s Spirit to inhabit your heart. You become filled not just with grace and forgiveness, but with power and giftedness. True salvation comes packaged with true potential.
The only real question here is what you’ll do with that potential. Cherish it? Admire it? Idolize it? Ignore it? Or grow it?
Sometimes we become so enamored with the potential God’s put inside us that we forget it’s only the beginning of what could be and not the final product. So we put it on a shelf and build a shrine for it and accept praise for it and sin by refusing to fan that spark into a flame.
No matter what your gift is or how long you’ve enjoyed it, you’ve only scratched the surface of the power created inside of you. Your gift comes from an infinitely powerful God. Assuming you’ve peaked out is to arrogantly say you’re wielding all the power He’s capable of pouring into your strength.
Refuse to rest on what you’ve been doing. Push on and fan the flame God’s given you. Be creative and be obedient.
The best is yet to come.
Some guys are natural preachers.
Then, there’s guys like me…
When I was 16, the idea of actually standing in front of a congregation and preaching had never crossed my mind. As a 20 year old junior in Bible College, my preaching class was the one most terrifying part of my day. As a new 22 year old youth minister, my first sermon in a church had me sweating, pacing and praying I didn’t throw up. Through the entire song service, I was reminding God of all the reasons I hated the thought of preaching. I was fervently praying for Jesus to return. Or a tornado. Or an earthquake. Or an ice cream truck. I wasn’t picky… I just needed a distraction so no one would notice I was in over my head.
Well, my prayer was ignored and I got up and preached that sermon on Colossians 1:15-20. I talked way too fast and rambled on and said “um” a couple hundred times. In fact, the entire message was a whopping, life-changing 10 minutes long.
After church was over, though, every one of the 75 people present shook my hand, told me I did a great job and assured me I would be a great – well, good – preacher someday.
Now, I’ve listened to that message since then and I know the the delivery was awful, the jokes bombed and the content was weak. I know those people weren’t commenting on my incredible skills and abilities. They weren’t responding to the heart-wrenching work of verbal art I’d just produced.
They were responding to two things… Faith in the power of God to work through the foolishness of preaching. And the potential that comes from embracing God’s gift – no matter how uncomfortable it might be at first.
Skip ahead a few years… Now I’m 31 and I love preaching. It hasn’t been all great since that first message… I’ve laid eggs and dropped bombs and had days when if I’m honest, I should’ve been booed out of the room. But it’s never depended on me. It’s never been about my words or my abilities.
Here’s something I’ve learned along the way… If you’re unwilling to be uncomfortable, you’ll eventually be unfaithful.
God has given you a gift and no matter how uncomfortable it is right now, He expects you to use that gift. It’ll be easier to let frustration take over, throw your hands up and walk away. But the best things we could ever do are often the hardest. Embrace your gift, practice your gift and learn to love your gift. And, someday, stand before your God and listen to Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Be uncomfortable. Be faithful. Be a servant.