A pastor recently contacted me to ask if there was any hope for his church to survive. The few people in his church were aged, and the church was slowly but surely declining in numbers. My answer shocked him. I said there was great hope for him and his church ‒ because the Father was already at work in his town.
I then opened my Bible to John Chapter 5 and shared the story of Jesus healing the man who had been sick for 38 years, and who was lying close to the pool of Bethesda. Unfortunately, Jesus didn’t receive rave reviews for what He did, for the healing took place on the Jewish Sabbath. In fact, the Jews persecuted Jesus for offending them and then Jesus gives the most amazing response as to why He healed the man on the Sabbath.
He said, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too, am working . . . The Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does.” In effect, what Jesus was saying was that He was living His life in such intimacy with His Father that He had decided to partner with His Father to do what He was doing.
I told my pastor friend of the time I had made a paradigm shift in the way I was living my life to follow the model of Jesus and encouraged him to do the same. I asked him to start walking through his town and as he did so, to be expectant that the Father was at work and that he should be ready to partner with Him. I also asked him to email me each week, three things he saw the Father doing. Suddenly, life changed for him and each Sunday he began to share his story with his congregation. Eventually his congregation learned the lesson and they too joined in the sharing time as they began to see the Father at work.
What an incredible transformation can take place when we take a step of faith to live our lives according to the model Jesus set for us. It is not just a good idea, it is the very pattern that Jesus meant for us to follow. He said, “As the Father sent Me, so I am sending you.”
To help you put all of this into practice, I have come up with the five following words to help guide you.
- A = AVAILABLE (AWARE)
We need to surrender to God the way we have been living our lives and give Him the right to ask us to join Him in what He is doing. We need to be unconditionally available and willing to boldly step out as doors open. This predisposes that we need to be first of all AWARE of the vital fact that God is always at work (to this very day). How sad to go through life ignorant of this fact and needing to develop our own goals and make our own plans.
- E = EXPECTANT
This requires us to be ready and sensitive to His prompts as we go through each day. It is possible that day after day we can miss what He is doing because we have not remained tuned in to the sometimes unpredictable, illogical and even offensive things He is doing.
- I = INTIMACY
Communication flows out of a relationship of intimacy. That is why developing a love relationship with God is the most important priority we can have. That is why it is important to remove any distractions that might compromise that intimacy.
Jesus said, “For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does. Yes, and He will show Him even greater works than these so that you will be amazed.”
- O = OBEDIENCE
As the Father reveals to us what He is doing, we need to respond in steps of unconditional obedience to join Him.
“God has a right to interrupt our lives. When we surrender to Him as Lord, we give Him the right to help Himself to our lives anytime He wants.” (Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God)
Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me.”
- U = UNDERSTANDING
As we experience the Father at work in our lives we come to know Him and understand His character. Our faith steps give Him room to move in our lives and our experiential understanding of Him accordingly grows. This takes us to new and enlarged levels in our service for Him and deepens our trust and relationship of intimacy with Him.
One final word from Henry Blackaby’s landmark book Experiencing God.
When you believe that nothing significant can happen through you, you have said more about your belief in God than you have said about yourself. You have said that God is not capable of doing anything significant through you. The truth is, He is able to do anything He pleases with one ordinary person fully consecrated to Him.