Last week I wrote about some of the keys to fruitfulness in life and ministry. Here’s a question I have engaged with a bit recently: ‘if things aren’t going well, does that mean we are doing the wrong thing?’ Good question, hey?! I know that I for one don’t want to be wasting my time flogging a dead horse, trying to make something work if God isn’t in it!
This is the exact journey I have been on over the last few months. This year has been pretty tough, both for myself personally and for us as a ministry. As I came up to mark 10 years of full time ministry my question to God was; ‘look, if you want me to continue in this, you need to speak clearly because from where I stand it’s not really working all too well for me and it’s time for things to change’. My assumption was, things weren’t going well, God had removed his blessing and I was really supposed to be doing something different, somewhere different. Thankfully as I drew this line I also set aside three weeks to spend almost exclusively with God, praying, listening, laying everything down at the foot of the cross and waiting on him.
This side of the summer, I realise that it was me drawing aside to be with God that moved him, not the rather misguided line in the sand that I boldly drew!
I can see from my own journey and as I look through scripture that when fruitfulness dries up or God’s blessing and favour seems to depart, if there is a message from God in it, it is usually that he wants us to draw aside to be with him and seek his face. When we do that he delights to meet with us and speak to us. It’s not so much that we are doing the wrong thing or in the wrong place, the task is not to look for fresh guidance, but rather to come back to our first love. It’s not so much what we do, as it is that we are doing it from a place of genuine friendship with God, authentic fellowship with others where we can abide in his love, and wholehearted obedience to him. From that place we can ask God for anything and he will do it so that we can be fruitful and ‘bring him much glory’.
A friend and I were reflecting the other day on why we often do land ourselves in this particular pickle. I think it’s because often God says ‘A and B’ and we go ahead make it ‘A, B, C, D, E’. Then as my friend described, it’s a little like God smiles lovingly and watches over us, waiting for us to figure out that we may have left him behind. As soon as we realise and come back he is ready to let us in on the next phase. Which brings me onto an aspect of God’s nature that I am finding fascinating at the moment. He really enjoys relating to us! Fruitfulness, blessing, favour, direction, intervention – he brings it all to us, but in the context of friendship and relationship. That seems to be a major priority for him.
The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. I am enjoying getting to know him more.