Have you ever woken up in the morning or even in the middle of the night after having a dream and wonder, was that God speaking to me?!! Sweat may be pouring down, maybe not. But, there's no way that you're going back to sleep. Confusion. Questions. Wonder. I've only had that happen one time in my life, but that's not really what this is about. This is about a dream that God has spoken to me when I was wide awake. In fact I was open, listening and receptive to God's work in my life. And he spoke.
So there I was, sitting in a denominational, district meeting. Our General Superintendent (1 of 6 or 7 for our denomination) was preaching. Those that have sat there may be ready to argue with me. God couldn't have spoken then, it must have been your lunch, because that stuff is boring as all get out. But, for some reason, I listened. I was open, but I definitely wasn't expecting a life changing conversation from God. Then he spoke.
I didn't hear it audibly. It wasn't in specific words. But, I knew the message. I knew what he wanted me to do. I just didn't want to do it. I didn't think I could do it. I thought he must have confused me with someone else. He had already called me to youth ministry and though he didn't really know what he was doing then, I had learn to listen to and obey God in that and had been enjoying myself in the process. But this. God you don't have a clue.
But, what he said to me was this. He called me to plant a church. To start a brand new church. Where no church currently existed, he wanted me to create one. (I had much to learn at this point, of course, and still do.) My self-defense mechanism screamed inside of me. I can't do that. I don't have the gifts or abilities that requires. I don't have the faith for that. I'm not even that great of an encourager. I struggle with connecting with people, especially those I don't know. I don't like to be up front. And I definitely don't have a passion for "preaching."
But, at that moment, I knew it was what God was speaking to me about. I knew it was what I was supposed to do. I knew it in the same way that I knew I needed Jesus for salvation. I knew it in the same way I knew I was supposed to marry Heidi. I knew it in the same way that I knew I was called to youth ministry. I just knew it. God had impressed it on my heart. It wasn't just emotion. I had plenty of that. I've experienced tons of that my whole life. This was different. This sense had only happened a few times in my life. And this was one of them.
There are several more stories that I could share over the next couple of years following this calling of God. And I probably will as time goes by, but for now suffice it to say, I know this is what God wants me to do. But, that's all I know for sure. After I accepted this calling (that's a few more stories in itself), I began to ask God how, when, where?
God has used people to lead, guide and direct me. He has used circumstances and experiences. But, he has not put a place, time, way on my heart like he did when he just said to do it. So, I pray. I ask. I seek. And as God leads me each day, we are figuring it out. One person he has used in particular has been my wife.
She may not feel like it, but just working through these things with her has grown our relationship so much. It has helped me to be a better teamate. It has made us better friends. It has helped us to connect on deeper levels. It has given me an appreciation for all that she means to me and does for me. As I involve her, listen to her, love her, she supports me, loves me and prays for me.
So I have this vision that God has given me through others, through books, and through my own passions and giftings for planting this church. I definitely believe God has been in all of those things, using them to guide and direct me. I have been open, seeking, and asking. He has been showing me so much. I have all these how questions that I've been asking. And little by little, I've been sensing them being answered. But, here's my question today.
A friend of mine this morning asked me this question. It seems alot like a question that another friend of mine asked me not that long ago, as well. It's almost beginning to be haunting. :)
Are you willing to give up the dream?
Here is the context. Family is too important. The Kingdom of God matters too much. Our witness is directly related to how we love one another and work together toward a common purpose.
But, I'm still confused. Who's dream? My dream or God's?
God's dream for me, I believe, with no doubt is to plant a church.
The rest is not so clear. Is the rest my dream or God's?
The how to stuff. The where at stuff. The who with stuff. Even a little bit, the when stuff.
Is it my dream or God's?
And then, am I willing to give it up for the sake of my family, the sake of the Kingdom, the sake of unity, the sake of our witness?
For the calling to plant. No, I'm not willing to give it up. It is God's will for my life.
It certainly is not God's will for this to interfere with any of that other stuff.
So, then, I believe, it is God's will to move forward with all of this other stuff, as long as it doesn't get in the way of that family, Kingdom, unity, witness stuff. Because God's written will for us is so much more important than any leading, conversation, feeling, idea, or indegestion that might lead us down an opposing path.
So, whatever I do, I believe must be done within this consideration.
Does it contribute to building up my family?
Does it expand God's Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven?
Does it increase the unity of the Body?
Does it express a worthwhile witness to the world watching?
Which, ultimately leads to the ultimate question.
Does it bring glory to God?
Do I bring glory to God through it?
Because that's all that really matters.