The Illusionist and the Hidden Word

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Have you ever encountered a moment with God where it feels like he’s playing the role of an Illusionist – performing a well-rehearsed sleight of hand trick? 

I have. Especially the last two months.

The meandering conversation between God and me, over the past two months, has twisted, turned, moved, and paused. Lengthy bike rides have been filled with a mix of non-stop chatter and miles of silence. Early morning quiet, holding a cup of coffee (Really good coffee like Intelligentsia!), where deafening silence intersects with a holy insight that ushers in an overwhelming peace.  The faith churning conversation has impassioned my heart and expanded my mind in ways that I am still trying to put into words.  Even though our conversations have been life stretching, there has been one word that seemed to always avoid my detection. One word that would bring everything into focus. A word that would encapsulate this season of life. A word that would make me go, “Ah Ha! – That’s it!”

The frustration that once was undetectable, seemed to quickly increase in its intensity as my attention was affixed on discovering that one word.  Every time, and I do mean every, I got close to identifying it, God, the Illusionist, slipped it out of one hand and into the other leaving me guessing again.

And then it happened. It was a moment when I was least expecting. And yet it was part of God’s beautiful story-line that he is poetically scripting.

My day was filled with hours of traveling, last minute supply shopping and multiple leadership conversations. The August heat made the setup process a little more challenging and a lot less enjoyable. But the team of people, all with a heart to serve, filled the atmosphere with laughter and joy.  The doors opened, people came, and the service started. Before I knew it, the last chord filled the stained-glass, old stone, building. And voices shifted from melodic notes to energetic conversations.

The team kicked back into action with intentionality, tearing down the equipment and making sure everything was put back to its original landing space. I was mindlessly rolling up mic cables as my mind drifted back some two decades, to the time where I was a young intern leading the Tech Team. Where has time gone?  As I rolled cables, I entered into a conversation with one of our volunteers. It was one of those shallow and scattered type of conversations that quickly dove into the deep-end. We talked about the journey God had us both on. We shared about how God was expanding our faith and revealing new insights.  It was like we were navigating parallel, God orchestrated, paths

And then it happened. God, the master illusionist, decided to show me the word that he was holding in his hand. It was the one word that had avoided my grasp and left me guessing. It was the one word that would bring into perspective this path God was (and is) leading me down. The word . . .

Available

“Chris”, God whispered, “Just continue to be available.”

Is there a need to roll up chords? Be available. When you are asked to drive three hours to meet with a church staff, be available. If there is a need to have a strategy brainstorming session, then be available. Be available to sit and have a non-directed conversation.  Be available to give direction to a church-planter. Do you need to figure out how to use WordPress? Be available. (No seriously.) And always be available to encourage people. No matter what is asked of you, just be available.

Make the shift from a Question to a Statement

Have you ever asked God, “What do you want me to do?” This is a question that I have asked numerous times, and in of itself, it isn’t necessarily a bad question. The danger with this question is that it has the propensity to lean towards inaction.  You see, it positions you as a passive bystander, waiting for God to clearly reveal to you what he wants you to do.  And we choose to forget that God is action oriented with a driving desire to draw all people to Him.  This is a constant strategy that God is relentlessly executing. But if we are not careful, when an opportunity arises to join Him in doing something that you don’t want to do, you can easily dismiss it by not just saying, “God, what do you  want me to do? But this time, you add scapegoat word, “REALLY”. What do you really want me to do?

But when you make the emphatic statement, “God, I’m available!”, it leans you into God, positioning your heart to move into action no matter what direction God points you in.

  • Being available says “I will” instead of “maybe”.
  • Being available trumps competency and gifting. God is willing to close that gap.
  • Being available doesn’t just reprioritize time. It refocuses the urgency in which you live your life.
  • Being available engages you with what God is already doing.

The Move into Action

Availability creates tension at the point of action.  You will not only sense this tension, but you will feel it at the core of your being. It is a gravitational pull that demands your attention and a decision. Will you move into action, following God’s direction? Or will you move away from God’s direction following your desires?  You won’t stay in the tension. It is way too uncomfortable.

When you actually decide to rest in a place of availability for God’s movement in your life, the tension will not just surface once. It will be constant. Why? We all have a selfish and inward leaning side.  We don’t often admit that outwardly, but we all know it is there. It is easy to see in the 14-month child who has mastered the word, “mine”. When the teenager complains about the one shirt, out of the dozen that you purchased for school, you see it. The school loan that you chose to help pay isn’t quite enough.  And then we think that at some point we just grow out of it.  But is that really the case?

Let me ask you a question: What percentage of your time praying, when you actually do pray, is focused on your needs, issues, problems, or desires compared to other people and even God?

Think about it.

Write down a percentage: ___________ (Now be honest.)

Try to sway your prayers from a “What’s in it for me?” to more of a “What can I do for you?”.

The Revealing Lesson

Here is what I am learning in this season.  The more that I am available, the more I am aware of great opportunities surrounding me.  Did you catch how I worded that sentence?  Opportunities to link arms with God are always there. God is always desiring to leverage you, his creation, in partnership with him to impact lives and change this world.  The question isn’t about an opportunity. It has everything to do with availability.  When you position your life to be available to whatever – and I mean whatever – God asks, opportunities swirl around you in a mosaic of

There are opportunities, right now, swirling around you to join God in what He is doing. When you position your heart to be available, you will start to see them. And when you see them it will force you to make the next decision. Are you going to move into action, or revert back to the more comfortable question? “What do you want me to do?”

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