Deuteronomy 30 makes it very clear that choices must be made. In verse 15 Moses says, “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.” In verse 19 he continues, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses.” Then he concludes the chapter with this in verse 20, “You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to life.” Our first responsibility in our relationship with Him is to choose to love Him by demonstrating that love by walking in His ways.
Dr. Crawford Loritts challenges us that whether we are disappointed, discouraged or even depressed, there are some things we must choose — truth, joy, faith, community and service. Today, I am asking you to choose to dream again. Always begin by choosing truth and then, out of that truth, be willing to embrace Holy Spirit-led risk faith. Reject spiritual warfare’s lie that God is through with you and that He does not have a visionary plan for your life and for your ministry. Choosing truth means that you choose His Word over how you feel, public opinion or overwhelming circumstances that are draining and dragging you down.
Choose to believe. Choose to dream again and ask God to give you a clear vision of where He desires to take you. Many visions are built on where you want to be in 1 year, 5 years or 10 years, but a much better vision is to determine where God is taking you. It is not where do you want to go, nor where does your church want to go, but what does God want to do next? That process requires time alone with the Lord, seeking His face, total surrender to His plan and obedience without hesitation. God is not trying to hide His will. If you are not sure what to do next keep obeying what He has already revealed to you.
Where do you begin? In your relationship with the Lord. J. Oswald Sanders says, “Both scripture and experience teach that it is we, not God, who determine the degree of intimacy with Him that we enjoy. We are, at this moment, as close to God as we really choose to be. True, there are times when we would like to know a deeper intimacy, but when the time comes to the point, we are not prepared to pay the price involved. Everything in our Christian life and service flows from our relationship with God!” This quote is quite convicting and should cause you to choose to pay whatever price necessary.
Jesus called the 12 disciples in Mark 3:14 and He called them “to be with Him.” Jesus’ heartbeat for ministry with His disciples was about spending time with them and building relationships. God’s plan is to reside in us (and He does) and for us to make our home in Him. Our first and highest task is to be in fellowship with Jesus. Jesus’ ministry to His disciples began and was sustained by His presence. Does your faith and has your spiritual formation adequately prepared you for what you are experiencing in ministry? Nothing can replace your personal daily intimacy with the Lord. Choose to abide in Him.
• You must realize that rest and mission are not antithetical. The two actually complement one another and are symbiotic. One definition of Sabbath is, “to catch one’s breath.” Just as you need physical breath to survive physically, you need spiritual breath to thrive spiritually. As you live on mission continuously you must find a time to rest to inhale His truth, presence and guidance because serving Him without abiding in Him is dangerous. We spend all of our time exhaling in ministry and mission, but not enough time inhaling in prayer and in His presence. The only way to become more like Him is to spend time with Him.
In their book, Worship and Mission After Christendom, Alan and Eleanor Kreider say, “The Church needs to both inhale in worship and exhale by going into the world and sharing the good news… In missional spirituality, ‘inhaling’ and ‘exhaling’ are two essential and interconnected movements of living the way of Jesus in the world.” Our spiritual formation should always lead us into missional engagement and our missional engagement will drive us back to our spiritual formation. The ultimate fruit of spiritual formation is not retreat from the world but missional engagement with the world. Choose both.
• Refuse to become overly focused on pragmatic church growth techniques more than your spiritual health and your church’s. In God Dreams Will Mancini says, “True freedom is not doing anything you want to do but giving all of yourself to do what God has called you to do.” He gives these excellent visionary questions: What is God prompting you to do? What is God teaching you and showing you? What hope is He providing? What picture of the future is He giving you? Pain reminds us that it was not meant to be this way. Hope reminds us that it will not always be this way. Choose hope.
In the midst of ministry that is full of serving, multiple functions and chaos, Jesus in Mark 6:31 tells His disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” Jesus’ secret to ministry is found in the balance of worship, prayer and mission by making sure you are not only exhaling but also inhaling. Henri Nouwen offers the following meditation on the balance of the spiritual life and ministry of Jesus: “In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. In the center of breathless activities, we hear a restful breathing.” It is time to choose to abide in Him!