Much of the Church has been in a tremendous season of transition and my life is no exception. The circumstances have been as unique as the individuals involved, but the effect of the season has been the same – there is a much needed shift coming.
Some have been in really tight spots has they’ve weathered this season – sort of the “hard pressed on every side” thing – but that hasn’t been the case so much for me. That was the place I was in a year or so ago, but I think I got through the “hard labor” part of this particular transition awhile back and lately I’ve been catching my breath in the delivery room just watching and waiting for the right timing of that final push. I know it’s coming – and very, very soon.
But for the time being, I’m still waiting. Waiting because I recognize that much of actually being able to shift from one season into another is being able to discern the times – pushing forward when necessary, and waiting when necessary. There is currently a corporate shift taking place, as well as many, many personal ones. It is so tempting to respond in the current season according to what God did in the last season. But that was then and this is now. I want to join Him in what He is doing now, and not automatically assume that what was the right response yesterday is still the right response today.
Jesus underscored this for me at a a worship gathering a few months back. I was in a place of sweet communion with Him and suddenly had the sense of being up on a very high mountain peak, looking out over the edge of a cliff. This picture brought a tremendous sense of deja vu because a few years earlier I had stood in a similar place with Him … and He asked me to jump. I did. That literal “leap of faith” began a series of events that became one of the most exciting and one of the most difficult times of my life. When all was said and done, quite frankly, it didn’t end up looking all that pretty. In fact, in the natural, it looked like a spectactular crash and burn – and not at all what I was hoping and believing for.
So looking at over the edge of that cliff again was a bit intimidating. But I only hesitated a moment and in that instant I knew I was ready and willing to jump again. My previous leap may have led to an outward sense of failure, but in the spirit it had been a time of soaring. In my heart, I knew that in His eyes – I had climbed to new heights. If it was time to leap again – I was ready to go, no matter the cost. But as soon as the realization struck my heart, He put a hand on my shoulder and said ‘no’ – it wasn’t time to leap again – it was time to rest. In fact, He asked me to just sit for awhile and enjoy the view with Him.
As soon as I sat down, I realized the sun was beginning to set, but then…strangely … it also seemed as if it was rising at the same time. I was a little confused and actually had to ask Him which it was – a sunset or a sunrise? His answer? Both! And I understood. The sun was setting on one season, but just beginning to rise on another. For me the application was even more personal since a nation on the other side of the world happens to figure quite prominently into my destiny. At that very moment the sun was, in fact, setting in my current locale, but at the same time it was beginning to rise on the other side of the earth.
He has brought that picture back to my heart and mind many times in the ensuing months. Any time I have started to feel like I’m not moving forward or been concerned that nothing is happening – He has put His hand on my shoulder and asked me, again, to simply sit and enjoy the view with Him. The amazing thing is – I have! Both through and after a season of tremendous confusion and disappointment, I have been held in His perfect peace. I have been so blessed with the time set apart with Him during this season that I haven’t wanted it to end! Yet part of the reason I have enjoyed this season so much is that I have had such a profound sense of wanting to drink in all that I can in this brief moment because I know the season will shift again. In fact, it’s already begun.
But here’s the deal – I could have missed what I have now if I was still looking for what I had in the past. If I responded in this season, according to the way He had led me to respond in past seasons, I would have worn myself out with lots of great ministry activities that no longer had His life on them rather than having the amazing privilege of being refreshed by the Breath of Life Himself.
We need to become a people driven and led by His presence and not just by principles. This is a value that has always been held deeply in my heart, but in this past season it has been driven even deeper. Spiritual principles are important, but it’s His presence that brings life. Have you ever noticed that just about the time you get one principle down, He starts leading you in the exact opposite direction? The only way we can navigate the tension between so many seeming contradictions on this journey of faith, is to know Him. He is not interested in automatons who can quote chapter and verse but who have no reality of relationship. He wants abandoned lovers who delight in moving and dancing with Him. The letter alone has always killed – it is the Spirit that gives life.
Yes, we are in transition. We are in transition to become a people led by the very Presence of Love. There are always sunsets and sunrises happening in our world – what you see at any given time depends on your vantage point in that season. Sometimes we need to take the kingdom by violence, other times we can only receive it as a child. Sometimes we need to speak the truth with boldness, other times we need to hold our tongues in mercy. One day it might be right to jump off the cliff, the next day it is right to sit and wait with Him awhile and simply enjoy the view. More than anything, we need to strip off all of our religious training and habits and simply follow Him.
And that’s what I plan to do – follow the Lamb wherever He goes. Whether that is straight off the edge of the cliff, or off to quiet spot to simply enjoy the sunset…
Or the sunrise.