Watch and pray
I realize I'm not the only one. There are some others who pray, who come early and stay late, who serve God with all their hearts, who press in, who have a desire for a touch from God. Although I am not the only one and there is a remnant who desire that, I believe much of the church is asleep. Lethargic. This is simply "a part of their life"... not a life surrendered. A life totally surrendered is abandoned to Him...no matter what the cost.
All you want to do as a Godly pastor is bring people into the fullness of God. And that is incredibly elusive at times.
I stand up in my Sunday School class and say things like, "we need a touch from God." Sometimes I even shout it, as I'm prone to do that even in a Sunday School class. :-) Everyone Amen's me. I say, "We need to press in." Everybody smiles and agrees. Some raise their hands, comment and agree with me. I say, "We all need to be at prayer meeting tonight..." and they all smile and nod and say, "yes, that's right" but then it will be the faithful few who come to pray and believe God for something. I would be lucky to have two people at prayer meeting out of a Sunday School class of 40. (We obviously didn't have prayer mtg. tonight as it's mother's day but I'm just using that as an illustration of the fact that the church has lost it's desire to watch and pray.)
In re-reading a chapter of Secrets of the Secret Place, I am reminded of the importance of watching. Bob Sorge says, "One pastor was asked how many people come to his church. He replied, "Oh, we sleep 800." Sadly, far too many believers are asleep in this the most momentous hour of human history."
I believe that and what is more difficult for us as pastors is that people spiritualize their apathetic stupor by trying to justify it with excuses of "good things" that keep them from watching and praying. We don't press in to God because we had to make cupcakes for a birthday party. We don't chase after God because we promised the kids we'd take them to the movies. We don't take time for prayer because we brought home work from the office. One time years ago my husband asked a lady why she did not come to prayer meeting. She said, 'I had to stay home and clean the heads on my VCR." You do have to at least give her credit for originality! But also stupidity, so perhaps one negates the other... anyhoo...
We can spiritualize it by saying, "God wants me to do things like this for my kids..." or "God gave me my job and I have to be diligent," or even "God would want me to have a clean VCR"... (not!) Or, we can realize that no amount of rationalizing will do when it comes to spiritually being asleep.
Today we were having lunch with Bernie and Lisa and talked about this very thing. Lisa mentioned to me that she believes we have far more unsaved people in the church than we would ever imagine. Being asleep or in a spiritual stupor is to basically be unsaved (because you are cold) and that much of the church members who have come for a long time need to be saved or re-dedicated to the Lord. I would agree with that. I say this not to be judmental at all but in a spirit of true concern for the church to awaken. Many times we kid around with people who have been church members for years and say, "you need to get saved!" but I wonder how much of that would really be truth and not a joke?
Well, what am I going to do about this? Pray about it, of course! Sow the right things. Give, pray and fast. Watch and pray, and NOT faint.
"The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:8-10 On another note, I'm preaching a women's retreat in Miami this coming weekend. I'm just praying for the mind of the Lord on the messages. God really has something distinct for this group and I know clearly the first message, but the second one has not come so easily. God keeps reassuring me that it's going to come but right now I'm just at a blank when I even pray about it, I just pray in the Spirit, but I don't have anything specific yet but I know it's coming.
Those of you who are personal friends reading this, just join with me in the prayer of agreement that the Lord will prepare these women's hearts, and many will be touched, and forever changed.
p.s. I love the Miami area! It's my favorite place to go in Florida, besides Tampa. Not only is it a beautiful area, but the people are so overwhelmingly kind to me there. The people in the churches there seem so...enthusiastic, and I love the Cuban element there...it's awesome to have somebody hand you a cafe con' leche before you go up and preach. Now, that's the life! Their churches are not asleep, if for no other reason than the fact that the coffee is so strong. Ha ha!