I know, I know! That's an old line from a Kevin Costner movie about a guy who builds a ball field in the middle of a cornfield and all the dead baseball players from years past come and play ball. But in a way, that is what God has been speaking to my heart the last couple of weeks. It's about what God will do when you put a little bit of faith in gear.
As I examined my life over the last year, I began to realize that I was watching the game of living for Christ from outside the ballpark. I noticed that I didn't take every opportunity to speak of Christ to sinners that I met. Maybe I was just tired of getting no response, maybe I didn't want to upset the apple cart, maybe, in my great estimating ability, they were too hard to reach, maybe, maybe, maybe........... In reality, let's face it. I gave into fear of man, apathy, self centeredness, and doubt. I let the fire in my heart grow cold. I let "me" take predominance in my life instead of "Him". I used to find a way to say something about God in every conversation that I entered into. I didn't care about the consequences or the responses (in that I didn't feel responsible to produce a positive response). I mean, we could be talking about lollipops and I would work the Lord in there some way, some how. And the neat thing about it was, it wasn't unnatural or awkward. It was just part of who I was and somehow God worked it that the people I was talking to knew that and accepted it along with me.
At the beginning of this year, I started a book written by Brother Yun and God began to let me see just how far from His true heart and purpose I had slipped. My nose was in my navel so far, all I could see around me was stretch marks! (Evidence of past births, but nothing in there baking now!) The fact that very few, if any of my neighbors are saved escaped me. The need I felt to disciple my children and really be in prayer for them in these early teen years dimished. the love I felt for the Body of Christ was weakening but my criticism, sarcasm, and judgement was on the rise. My realization and burden for those slippng into hell everyday was almost non-existent except when I wanted to sound spiritual. (I have to preserve my "pastor's wife image" you know!) Oh!!!! I'm making myself sick!!!! After looking at it honestly, I let a spirit of futility and defeat enter into my thinking. I began to doubt by my actions that God would actually move in the hearts and lives of those that I prayed for. And He didn't move because He doesn't respond to doubt and unbelief. That's not His fault, it's mine!
It's so easy to forget the true nature of people sometimes. I do it with my husband. I'll find myself getting frustrated with something that he is or isn't doing that I want him to do or not to do and that affects our relationship. I'm sure at times, he feels my self righteous scorn. And then the Lord will hit me upside my big, fat head and remind me what kind of a man I married! Imperfect, yes. But so full of virtue in so, so many ways that I should be shouting from the mountaintops about how wondefully blessed I am. Man, I hate my selfish flesh!!!
Well, I think that I forgot the true nature of God. He wasn't doing the things I wanted Him to do, or at least, I couldn't see Him doing them. (Man how selfish is that? Assuming that because I don't see it, He's not doing it? As if "I" matter at all!) So, after a time of great repenting, humbling, and generally letting Him know that I realize what a worm I truly am outside of Him, I decided to have a Peter experience--to step out of the boat, back onto those stormy waters--and trust him to keep me on top of the water and not sinking beneath them! And even if I would sink, at least I would go down fighting! (You can say all you want to about this Peter fellow, but.....He is the ONLY one that walked on water, if just for a moment! I'm identifying with him more and more, blundering through life with a lot of zeal and far less wisdom, with astounding victories and crushing defeats, with heart felt words, but less than equal actions. But in the end, it all worked out for good. May God grant that to me too!)
So I have, by God's grace and through His power, returned to my first love, my first mission, my only employment--the salvation of souls. I have intentionally pointed my prayers that direction. I have made a conscious decision in prayer to not limit God by past experience, fear of man, or just general laziness and to focus fastidiously on His nature, His will, His power, His mercy, and His compassion and to let God be God. I have decided to build a field so that God can come and play! I hope that doesn't sound irreverent, because I don't mean it in an irreverent way. I believe that God's greatest joy comes from the salvation of souls. Nothing pleases Him more than to go out and hit a home run in the heart of an unregenerated soul. Nothing tickles Him more than "showing off" by manifesting His power and making Himself known to a dying world.
And you know what? I built Him a field, and HE IS SHOWING UP EVERY DAY!
Case in point:
I was talking to a sinner friend on the phone the other day. She wasn't feeling well. So I told her that I was going to women's prayer that evening and we would pray and ask God to heal her. "Well, she said, I guess it couldn't hurt." Couldn't hurt???? I told her "it always helps to get God involved!!!" So we did, we prayed and asked God specifically that when He healed her, that she would know that it was Him doing it! Well, sad to say, that's stepping out of the boat for me, considering what a dunce I've been in the last year. The next day I went to her house to give her daughter a music lesson. After the lesson she told me a story. "My daughters think I'm nuts, but I think you might understand, she said. Last night I was sitting in bed about 10:30, all alone, reading. And I felt something. It started at my head and went all the way to the tips of my toes. I just knew it was God making me better!" Today I came home after work and even felt good enough to take Buddy (a wild, 110 lb. yellow lab) for a walk. No one around here believes me, but do you know what I mean???" I about came unglued!!! I shared with her what we prayed and when we had prayed. "Well, what took Him so long?" was her response, because we prayed at 7:30. As I thought about it, I remembered that I too, was in bed reading, all alone at 10:30pm. A little voice tried to tell me how silly we had been praying so specifically. "Her heart is hard, how will God be able to do anything there? She's unsavable, too self sufficeint, too self reliant. It won't work." My first inclination was to believe it, but then, I thought, nope, I'm building a field, I'm stepping out of the boat believing the Word that Jesus has spoken to me. Thank you Lord for healing my friend. I guess that was the pitch God was waiting on because He certainly hit a home run!!!
Another case in point:
My son went to a birthday sledding party yesterday. While inventing new ways to increase your speed on a sled run, he ended up getting beaned by a snow board which parted his hair and his scalp right down the middle almost to the bone. So I ended up at the emergency room yapping with a PA as she put 11 stitches in his head. During the course of the conversation I mentioned my faith, just in passing, and before I knew it, she was spilling her guts to me. She had been raised Catholic, but didn't think that was the answer. In fact, she had come to the conclusion that there wasn't a God at all until she did an internship with some Christian surgeons. During that time she came to realize that patients that were prayed for by the surgeons before surgery had better vital signs through surgery, less bleeding, less complications, less anxiety, and quicker recovery times than those who were not prayed with. This impressed her. "I now believe in something, but I'm just not sure what that is," she said. So I encouraged her to seek Christ in His Word, not through "the church", with an open heart and assured her that God would finish what He had begun in her. She's in my prayers and I just know God will do something BIG there. Not because I'm praying, but because of who He is! I'm still amazed that in some wierd way, God needs us to accomplish His will on this earth, where souls are concerned. Oh, I fully realize that if He chose to, He could do it more than adequately without us, but He chooses to use us!
Thank God that He has shown me my foolishness! Thank God that He is a redeemer of the time that the enemy steals, and that we, in our selfish, carnal, worldly ways waste! Thank God that He never changes, that His only concern is the salvation of lost mankind, that He is just as powerful today as He was when He created everything, and that He knows us each intimately, even down to the number of hairs that now reside on a lone snowboard in someone's garage!
So, if I'm not blogging or chatting as much lately, it's because I am working on building and maintaining the field where God can come and play. And I'm not only believing Him to show up, but I'm believing that He is going to fill the grandstands with all the home run balls. And we will sit and cheer for all eternity His great exploits!