So yes, last week I started sharing about our recent National Conference but went off on a tangent. The weekend was about celebrating the past and preparing for the future. To do either of those things fully, we need to be grounded in the present. When I think back to all the things that God was doing amongst us during the weekend, it is astounding; its sobering to think of all we might have missed had we been too caught up in the past or the future.
We were very grateful to have Ian and Haddon Macdonald with us. Ian took us through three sessions or conversations exploring authentic spirituality, authentic discipleship and authentic living. God is a very present God. Often in my walk with him I can get preoccupied with what he has done and what he is going to do and forget that he is here, right now, with me, wanting to look me in the eyes if I have the guts to stop for a few seconds. I think that is the most challenging and confronting place to be, present with God in this moment; there is nowhere to hide. Even now in this moment, I would rather keep writing than open my heart to him here and now. But how else am I to know him and make my life his own?
In mentoring others and discipleship, if I am constantly living in the past and the future with no courage for the present, I am just a hollow shell of pretence and activity. It’s in being present to God, myself and my brothers and sisters that I can actually make contact, live and give life and progress with intent. I wonder if this is not what God is looking for, in each age and generation, people with the courage to worship him in spirit and in truth.
One of my favourite traditions that Fusion has is that of the evening devotions at conferences. These are brought by members of the team who share from their journey with God over the recent months or years. They are based on the premise that I am strengthened and encouraged in my faith as you share your real experience of the joys, pains, doubts and rigours of discipleship and ministry. This type of sharing requires a high level of being present with God both in the preparation and delivery, but authentic fellowship, encouragement, applied theology and strengthening of purpose are all outcomes. Those who aren’t used to the process might react with pity and not a little bewilderment, but with time they begin to understand that rescuing and feeling sorry for those sharing misses the point entirely. The reality is that authentic spirituality, authentic discipleship and authentic living are very messy and often pretty uncomfortable; but that is what we are called to, together with God. There were one or two bewildered, uncomfortable individuals last weekend!!
For us as a movement there are many exciting things I am sure that God will do amongst us and through us; but the pathway to all of these things is through the gateway of alertness to the present and responsiveness to him in the moment, and that might get a bit messy and uncomfortable at times.