I’ve never really felt like I’ve had much to offer God.
I’m not a musical prodigy. I can’t play much of anything and, despite the threat of potential backlash, I certainly can’t sing.
I wasn’t raised in the church. My thinking isn’t conventional and I haven’t been taught the traditions and customs that seem to come so naturally to my peers… I don’t have the big name.
I’m an introvert. I’m awkward. I’m a closed book who’s a little rough around the edges. I love people, but I have an unbelievably hard time talking to them, and–though you may not see it–the very idea of getting up and speaking in front of a crowd is absolutely terrifying to me.
So, like a lot of people do, when I felt the call of God on my life, I rejected it… twice.
Yeah, eventually I came around to accepting God’s plan for me, but it took a lot. And beyond that, as much as I’d like to tell you I don’t struggle with those feelings anymore, the truth is quite the opposite… Because here I am, almost 3 years after the first acceptance and 6 months after the second, still fighting the plagues of insecurity and inadequacy every step of the way as I attempt to grow in ministry.
I still wish I could play the piano. I still wish I had been raised in the church–that someone had left me a legacy and a heritage I could be proud of. I’m a preacher, but small talk is still a struggle and public speaking isn’t any less terrifying.
Though I realize I can be pretty hard on myself at times (aren’t we all?), I don’t say these things to put myself down.
The truth is, I don’t think these feelings are as deeply rooted in insecurity as they are a genuine desire to please the Lord.
I don’t care about anything else in this life–fame, fortune or possessions–I just want to do something to further the Kingdom of God.
Above everything, I want to be used.
I look around and find inspiration in so many spiritual giants in my world and in this movement. I see the big name preachers with the explosive ministries… Men and women who preach with such conviction that hundreds flock to altars of repentance.
I’ve read stories of conferences overseas where literally several thousand people have received the Holy Ghost in mere days, and missionaries on deputation who have not only seen thousands saved but watched as blind eyes were opened and deaf ears unlocked.
I’ve heard about young men being prayed back to life on softball fields and old men resurrected in airports and during church services.
I’ve had people prophesy over my life and ministry in two different countries and watched in awe as some of those very same people work tirelessly to develop their spiritual gifts in a way that impacts every single person they encounter.
I’ve thought about these men and women going into this new year and asked myself, “Why can’t I be more like them?”
Why can’t I preach with that same power?
Why don’t I have the knowledge they have?
Why can’t I be as sensitive to the Spirit as they are?
Why can’t I hear the voice of God like they do?
Why can’t I discern things and pray for people like they can?
And then a thought hit me: Maybe I don’t know God like they do.
Maybe I don’t spend the time on my knees, in heartfelt prayer, like they do.
Maybe I don’t treasure or study the word of God like they do.
Maybe fasting just isn’t as important to me as it is to them.
You know, the Bible calls the Word of God a two-edged sword… I think we forget sometimes that conviction hurts.
So often, we desire spiritual gifts while neglecting the work it takes to obtain them. In this microwave age, we want God to wave a wand of supernatural power, allowing us to stand idly by and put forth no effort while receiving all the glory.
That’s not how it works.
Tending to fruit, as it turns out, isn’t as easy as one might think.
They require proper care and upkeep. They need to be watered, protected and exposed to direct sunlight. And when weeds sprout up that threaten their growth, someone needs to be there to stop them in their tracks.
Quite like the natural world, spiritual fruits are something that take both time and hard work to develop.
They need to find their sustenance in the rivers of Living Water. They need to be protected. They need direct exposure to the Bright Morning Star. And when the poison of sin begins to creep in and stunt their growth, someone needs to stop it.
Perhaps you’re like me tonight.
Perhaps you have a desire to serve the Lord with everything you have and want to be used… Not for your glory, but for His.
Perhaps you’ve made it your New Year’s Resolution to grow closer to God and you don’t know what’s been holding you back from the great things you’ve seen in so many others.
Allow me to encourage and empower you not to just talk about getting closer to God this year, but actually be about it.
Jesus said in Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Anybody can hear the knock. Not everyone recognizes the voice and opens the door.
If I may be so bold, I invite you to share my conviction. Let it pierce your flesh as it did mine and be your source of motivation:
Maybe the reason you don’t hear the voice of God like you want to isn’t because He hasn’t been speaking… Instead, maybe He’s been knocking this whole time and you just haven’t recognized Him.
In case you didn’t know, that kind of recognition comes through dialogue.
All of us have that one friend we can have an entire conversation with without saying a word–Just one small glance across the room and you know they’re thinking the exact same thing you are.
It’s unbelievably weird at times, but it’s not about reading minds. In all actuality, you don’t have to. When you’ve stayed up all hours of the night talking to someone–laughing, learning about them or even pouring your heart out–you develop a relationship with them. Those countless hours of being in their presence and talking, whether it be serious or ridiculous, give you a glimpse into who they are–their thoughts, their patterns and their desires.
Why is it, then, that we think we can so easily stumble upon knowing the thoughts, ways and desires of God without spending hours building that kind of relationship with Him?
Relationships with people take work. That work takes time. The same is true of God.
If we ever want to truly start growing in spiritual fruits and gifts and be used in mighty ways, there has to come a point when we stop talking and start doing. We have to be willing to invest our time, effort and energy into growing our ministries or we will eventually end up aborting them.
Today is a clean slate. Tomorrow is a new day. As we head into this new year, refuse to be another person simply talking about the need for apostolic anointing and revival in this generation.
In the words of Ghandi, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”
God isn’t looking for discussion. He’s looking for action.
It’s 2013… What are you willing to do?