Name, Journey, Vision, Calling
I’ve been thinking about the limits of personal strength.
Sometimes it’s crisis that accelerates growth and transformation. One truth about me and I suspect its similar for you, is that I learned from a very early age to trust my own capability, my ideas, my relationships, my stubbornness, my ability to learn… to get me through what I needed to get through.
But there comes a time when you hit the end of that personal strength and resource. What happens when you do?
For many of us right now, we are in that space, or will soon be heading into that space. External realities (eg. covid-19 and everything downstream of that) are accelerating the confrontation with inner realities.
It’s often in these places that we are most aware of our limits.
At several times in my life where I’ve hit this limits, I’ve found a pathway & guidance through the dark by discovering and leaning into the word of God, as expressed/written in the Bible. So, I’m going to turn to Psalm 18 to recount something of a route to discovering the freedom of God that I lived through during my teenage years.
In Scripture I discovered my name – who I was. I discovered that my identity flowed fully out of who God is, and I found myself learning to pray things like “I love you, LORD, my strength” (v.1). I discovered that I had a relationship with God, and become increasingly interested in WHO God was and WHAT God was like. Finding proclamations such as v2. to be formative, helpful, empowering… saving. “The LORD is my rock, my fortress & my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
This might seem a strange way to discover identity. But remember, I had lost confidence in my own life. I found myself with very little reserve of strength. But paradoxically, as I read and prayed Scripture I found that by stopping thinking about my own worries and struggles, by being led into worship & prayer, by looking to God, I found a new strength.
As I grew in my awareness of who God was & my love for God stirred, I started to experience healing. I had this sense that I could grow in God. In a very practical way, I found myself able in my distress to “call to the Lord, to cry to my God for help.” (v6).
I learned that God was most capable and ready to encourage me, to build me up, to nurture the youthful strength within me, and God was willing to meet me right where I was at. “He reached down from on high and took hold of me, he drew me out of deep waters.” (v.16)
I started to experience the healing of God in my life, and it all flowed from a slow restoration of my true identity. (This I discovered through the grace of Christ who died for me… and who on the third day, rose… )
And so the journey started to enlarge me, captivate me. “As for God, his way is perfect.” (v.30) “You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles don’t give way.”(v.36)
God renewed my vision – and is still in the process of doing it.
The vision is big: RESURRECTION, death is done-away-with, the Kingdom of Heaven is NOW (but still to come). New heavens and new earth, all things made new and reconciled under Jesus Christ, who is Son of God and Lord of all.
But also the vision is deeply personal. Taking shape in all the transformations of the Holy Spirit in my life. I got captivated by a vision of the holiness of God, which is pure, bright, lovely, beautiful, just, and good.
The big picture vision of the triumph of King Jesus (see v.50) at the cross, complete but awaiting its final fulfillment, started to be embodied within me. The change God is bringing about in the world starts in my life. “The Lord lives! Blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation.” (46)
This embodied kingdom vision captured me and set me on a path for several years toward the end of high school – and has since repeated and grown stronger in several ways.
We all are recruited for the kingdom of heaven, and in doing so are given unique callings and tasks. One practical task that we all have is to be people who are living here in the present, attentive to God in prayer and praise.
“For this I will extol you, O LORD, among the nations, and sing praises to your name.” (v.49)
This became the focusing, centering part of my energies, and in many ways is the ongoing and permanent challenge of the life of discipleship. I choose to be a man of praise, despite circumstances,through all the ups, downs and grey-ness of the days. This is the practical beginning point of sanctification in the Spirit.
Your name, journey, vision, task
You too can find freedom in God.
When you come to the end of your limits, may you find your true identity flowing from God. May you discover the joy of the journey. May you embrace the huge vision of the reign of God. And may you allow it to take shape in the practical details of your life, being obedient to the task of prayer & praise, through every moment of your life.