I have been reading a really challenging book by Dave Browning titled, “Deliberate Simplicity.” It’s a book that asks some rather difficult questions about what we are doing in our lives and in our church. The author strives to help the reader understand that whatever it is we believe God is leading us to do, we need to change two important things:
- The first is to stop over complicating everything. In other words we should discover whatever the goal is, create a set of metrics to determine how to know when we reach the goal, and then find the simplest way of carrying out those steps to achieve the goal. Otherwise we will keep losing helpful volunteers as they may perceive one needs a Master’s degree just accomplish the task. Sound Familiar?
- The other point is to do those things we know we are called to do in a deliberate fashion. That means to do them with thought and intentionality. This is not just a simple directive nor is it an easy task. Rather it is made even more difficult in the fact that we ourselves tend to struggle against the path that God has set before us. To do things deliberately means we have to have focus. Focus on our goals, focus on our call and focus on His words as lived out in our lives. The difficulty comes in discovering whether or not we have been wholly sold out to God’s presence in our lives. If the world still has a foothold in the house of our hearts, then we will continue to struggle to know the path and have a laser-like focus on it. We often don’t do things with deliberate fashion because we often hold back, even from Christ. We hold back our time, our talent, and our treasure and believe it or not we also hold back our pain, suffering, and afflictions. This includes the sin we often harbor in the deepest recesses of our souls.
In one chapter Browning describes a discussion between a world class Cricket player and Lord of England, Charles Studd and a Baptist Minister, F.B. Meyer from London. These two were talking about the nature of Spiritual Power and the need to give up one’s life fully to God. Ironically it was the minister who was struggling and not the Cricket player. Meyer asked Studd, “Why is it that you are so much happier than I? What do you have that I don’t?” Studd responded that there was nothing he had that Meyer cannot have, and posed the question, “Have you given yourself right up to God?” Meyer struggled with this question because he knew the truth was that he hadn’t. He’d been holding back for some time. Meyer resolved to hand it all over that very night. In his prayers he sought Christ and he gave Him the key-ring of his own will. Attached were all of the keys. That is, all of the keys but one. Missing from the key-ring was the key to a little cupboard in the recess of his heart.
Christ asked him, “Are these all of the keys?” Meyers replied, “all but one, that key is to a small cupboard and that is mine. You don’t need to worry about it.” Jesus pressed the keys back into the hands of Meyers and beginning to leave said, “My child if you cannot trust me with all, then you do not trust me at all.”
“Stop” Meyers cried out! Jesus seemed to glide back and holding the little key in his hand Meyers said, “I cannot give it, but if you will take it you shall have it.” Christ took that key as well and within a month He had cleared out the little cupboard of things that had been locked away for months. This was as Meyers knew Christ would. “Imagine myself,” he explained later, “being such a fool as nearly to have sold my birthright for that mess of pottage.”
I can’t help but to think how often I have held back from Christ all that I could become for want of a little key and a mess that I was afraid he’d see locked away in a cupboard or a closet! I am cut to the quick and embarrassed by my lack of faith and trust in His sovereignty. That He will guide my steps and clear the path if I would just let go of the keys. ALL OF THEM.
If we are to continue to walk not just boldly, but deliberately in this new age, we must ask ourselves the ultimate question. Have I completely given myself over to Christ? Have I given him all the keys and allowed him to look through all of the closets and cupboards in my house? Have I allowed him to take the old, cracked, chipped and broken things hidden in the dark and throw them out? If the answer is no, then can I ask you to discover why? Can I ask you to make a commitment through prayer, to invite Jesus in to take those keys too? Afterwards you may be surprised at how much clearer you hear Christ’s call in your life and how much easier it will be to look forward and put your hand to the plow and move. It is so much easier to sow seed when you no longer worry about looking back over your shoulder to see if Jesus (or anyone else for that matter), is snooping to find your broken pieces. Then whether you have been called to plant a church, lead a small group, teach kids, preach the word, or move to another country, you can do it knowing that when the world breaks in to find your skeletons, there will be nothing that has not already been revealed and dealt with. Instead all they will find is Christ himself, inviting them in.
This week especially I have been learning some really hard lessons, of faith, trust and letting go. Thanks be to God that He teaches such things and though they are incredibly painful, my life is changed forever because He dwells with me still. I pray that He does this for all of you as well.