It happens to everyone who seriously strives to live for Christ. It happens especially to those who are striving to live for Christ.
It happened to me the first time when on a typical Wednesday evening before a prayer meeting in Dallas in February 1990, the Chairman of Deacons announced that he had placed the church properties “for sale” on the open Real Estate market that morning. Over the following 18 months I would experience personally this thing called dependence upon God.
It happened a second time on September 28, 1997 after having preached a sermon on the power of vision that that evening I would be accused of by a handful of Deacons of misguided leadership as Pastor. Over the next three months, the Deacons of the church along with their wives would meet in closed-door, private meetings to determine my fate as their Senior Pastor. During the following 16 months I would learn again what it meant to live in total dependence upon the Lord God.
It happened most recently when on January 20th of this year I was informed that the Search Team needed to look beyond me and to someone else in their search for a new Lead Pastor of Bear Valley. Over the past nine months I have served as Interim Pastor feeling again the full weight of “first chair” leadership and learned again the meaning of living in total dependence upon the Lord Jesus.
The first time I thought that God had become displeased with me and my ministry, it took a lot of love on His part for me to see that, it wasn’t because He didn’t love me that He disciplined me – it was because He loved me so much.
Bruce Wilkinson describes the situation well when he writes, “Having dared to ask for an enlarged ministry, more than a few Christians have faltered at this point in their spiritual transformation. They’ve received blessings on a scale they hadn’t imagined possible. They’ve seen God stretch the limits of their influence and opportunities.
But suddenly the rush of wind under their wings stops. Helpless, they start to plummet.”
When Bruce began to share some of these feelings with trusted older gentleman – before he could very far the kindly man broke in and said, “Son, that feeling you are running from is called dependence. It means that YOU ARE walking with the Lord Jesus.” “Actually, he continued, “The second you’re not feeling dependent is the second you’ve backed away from truly living by faith.”
What does it mean to truly live by faith?
You mean that that feeling that I just can’t do it, that feeling of I’m in way over my head, that feeling that there is no way I’m strong enough, clever enough, wise enough, smart enough to handle this – that feeling is what I’m supposed to be feeling?
“That’s the one all right!”
It is a frightening, yet wonderful truth that as God’s chosen people we are expected to attempt great things for a great God – something so big that we’re sure to fail…UNLESS GOD STEPS IN.
This is truly living by faith.
This is what Jabez was getting at when he prayed, “Oh, that Your hand would be with me.”
It’s called dependence…
I have spent countless hours in prayer these past nine months that God’s hand would be with me (and that His hand would be upon BVC), that through this transition, through the various and multiple changes and challenges, through the loss of both people and significant ministry dollars God would not abandon us and that He might even use this time of transition for our spiritual good and for His glory.
I sincerely hope to have served you well during these months. There have been times that I’ve felt that to be true, and times I have felt a total failure. But, we made it and in less than two weeks I get to resume my previous role here at Bear Valley and together we move into a whole new, exciting future of world-changing ministry.
“Oh that Your hand would be with me (us)!”
Week after week, travelling in our car, these words became Christmas to me. And they still are.
By Pastor Rich