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Friday, February 04, 2011

Who Am I?

Have you ever considered what your individual role in the Kingdom of God might actually turn out to be? I know none of us can ever be certain about such things. Still, my mind often wonders about my role.

Usually such wondering occurs during those periods in my life when my humanity seems to overwhelm my spirituality. In other words, it occurs when I'm not feeling so confident about who I am and what I'm doing. I suspect that others aren't always so confident that they know who I am and what I'm doing either!

I was reading the other day the story of Elijah and the widow (1 Kings 17). God had called the prophet Elijah out into the wilderness and had the ravens feed him. Now God was moving him to a village and would use a widow to feed him. Elijah found the widow and moved in with her. She did what he told her to do and the food never ran out. She would feed Elijah, her son, and herself. And miraculously she never ran out of food. (Truly it was miraculous!)

Then her son got sick and died. Elijah took the dead child away and privately prayed over and even laid on top of the boy. And answering Elijah's prayer, God returned life to the child. Upon learning that Elijah had indeed raised her child from the dead, the widow said to Elijah, "Now I know for sure that you are a man of God and that the Lord truly speaks through you."

The Lord has never, to my knowledge, involved me in any of those food miracles where people keep eating and eating and the food never runs out. And I don't know that God will ever use me to raise someone from the dead. (Although if He did, I certainly wouldn't mind!) But I have to confess that one of the strongest desires I can ever remember having is to truly be a man of God whom the Lord truly speaks through.

When I was a young man, I had strong desires and fantasies, really. They were to be cool and popular. They were to be rich and powerful. I wanted to have stuff. I wanted to be admired by others. I wanted to make a big difference. Later, as I began to own my brokenness, I wanted to be forgiven. I wanted to repent. As I began to mature in Christ, I wanted to be transformed by the renewing of my mind.

And today, I want to be a man of God through whom God speaks. Frankly, that yearning surprises me. I'm not sure where it comes from. But I'm certain that it's there. This unmistakable desire brews within me. And I wonder why. What exactly is a "man of God?" Isn't that just a man of whom God approves? Or is it something deeper? And through what kind of men does God speak?

I learned some time ago that I had foolishly spent much of my youth and adulthood focused on what I would do or what I would have. But it turned out that it is considerably more important to focus on who I would be. So this paradigm shift occurred and changed how I think about things. Fortunately, my desires have changed. I find myself centered squarely on being instead of doing or having.

So whom can I be? Of all the definitions ascribed to being, I find the definition "man of God" to be the most attractive. As I paint a picture in my mind, he is a virtuous man. He is a humble man. He is a man after God's own heart - learns from his mistakes and repents of his sins. He isn't afraid to dance and sing before the Lord. At times he can be a bit brave too ... stepping out in faith when others would call him foolish.

Now maybe I'm full of myself. Or maybe I'm a little bit out of touch with reality. But when I speak, I often times have the impression and understanding that I'm speaking for the Lord. By that I mean that His words are running through me. What's coming out of my mouth are not my words. They have to be His. Why? Because I'm not smart enough to think those words up on my own!

But what kinds of words do that ... come out of your mouth through some kind of divine appointment? Words of encouragement. Words of exhortation. Even words of rebuke. So it gets to be that I'm not encouraging, exhorting or rebuking. But rather the Lord is doing those things through me. I feel sometimes as if I'm just sitting on the sidelines watching this go on. Often it's a pretty good show too!

As I write this today, I find my eyes welling up with tears. I consider the power of those words that the Lord puts in me and draws out of me, and it humbles me. It is at these points when I know without a doubt that there is God and that He is everything the Bible says He is. It is a good place to be. The further I got in my own spiritual journey, I find there is nothing I yearn for more than to submit myself humbly before the Lord. To be owned and used by this God provides the greatest compensation of any role I've ever played. Frankly, it's way better than having or doing --- which is what I always thought would be the ideal.

This past week I was talking to Pastor J. Don George of Calvary Church in Irving, Texas (http://calvarychurch.cc/our_founding_pastor.php). I used to work for him and learned several things about healthy churches there. Anyway, he'd recently visited with Maude Aimee Humbard. For those of you who don't know her, she is the widow of Rex Humbard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rex_Humbard) - a popular evangelist of my parents' time. Anyway, Pastor George mentioned his visit with Mrs. Humbard and my mind immediately flashed back to something.

When I was in my early teens, I attended a service at Humbard's church, and his wife sang a song. I got a cassette tape of that song and played it over and over again. In fact, my family went camping and I would take that tape with me, listening to it as we drove, before I slept, or just about any other time. I would hear it at least a dozen times a day. Don't ask me why, but I found it to be captivating and almost magnetic and listened to it intently for several months.

Now I hadn't thought about Mrs. Humbard or that song in decades. But when Pastor George mentioned Mrs. Humbard's name, that song, its lyrics and music came flooding back to fill my mind.

What kind of song would do such a thing? It's called "More About Jesus," by Eliza E. Hewitt (music by John R. Sweney). If you'd like to hear it, go to http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/m/o/morabout.htm.

Consider these lyrics that somehow captured a 14 year old boy's heart many years ago:

More About Jesus
More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Show the things of Christ to me.

(Chorus)

More about Jesus; in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.

(Chorus)

More about Jesus; on His throne,
Riches in glory all His own;
More of His kingdom's sure increase;
More of His coming, Prince of Peace.

(Chorus)

I'm looking at these words today and I am frankly stunned that they could have had such a profound pull on a teen-aged heart. Let's be honest here, I wasn't that spiritual as a teen-ager. But today, these words that were planted in my soul have become nothing less than the true cry of my heart. There is nothing in life that I could want more ... than more about and more of Jesus.

Is that the definition of a "man of God?" Is that the thing that the widow saw in Elijah ... a man so firmly connected to God that the miracles and words of God flowed through Him?

You know, I often don't feel as if I'm good enough for my own aspirations. Sometimes, as I said, my humanity - and its sinful nature - overwhelms my spirituality. But I can't deny the truth that God has my heart. You've maybe heard it said that someone "has your back." Well it's even better when the King of the universe has your heart. For it is then that you are truly a man (or woman) of God. And it is then that this amazing God can really speak through you.

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