The fifth of the GROWTH practices I am presenting is to Trust God in a New Venture. Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and do something new and different to help God’s Kingdom come in some person’s or group’s life. This is what you are asking for in the Lord’s Prayer. As Luther explains, “The kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer. But we pray in this petition that it may come in and through us, also.”
A basic part of discipleship is to let yourself be drawn Close to God. The Spirit does this when you trust him to bless your new kind of effort, especially when it seems beyond your ability to accomplish. Stretch.
The classic example is committing yourself to increase your offering by one or two percent. See what happens. Will you get through the year financially OK? If so, try increasing it the next year until you work yourself up to a 10% tithe. See if you can live that way. Can you feel a higher trust level and Close to God? Pastors notoriously don’t like to preach stewardship sermons. Make it a sermon on being drawn Closer to God. That should be the essence of a pastor’s ministry.
I am a missions pastor, and I lead many members on mission trips to other countries, especially Haiti. Often are the times I hear someone afterward declaring that mission was a life-changing experience. For the first-timer, this means they learned to trust and thus overcome fear. It also usually means they have encountered true poverty for the first time, changing their perspective on their blessings from God.
Marketer’s talk about liminality or threshold experiences. This is a new perspective on something that opens up new understandings, like standing on the threshold of a different door for a new perspective on a room. Try some different perspectives on your Christian life and respond to new opportunities you recognize.
Trusting God in a new venture is at the heart of the very popular study Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. It has been translated into 49 languages and sold more than 7 million copies. Blackaby writes especially for Baptists, who in their Calvinist heritage are not used to talking about the Holy Spirit at work today. Where he says God, we can in most cases say God in the Third Person, the Holy Spirit.
Blackaby teaches seven realities: 1. God is at work around you, 2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal, 3. God invites you to become involved with him in his work, 4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal himself, his purposes and his ways, 5. God’s invitation for you to work with him leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action, 6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what he is doing, 7. You come to know God by experience as you obey him and he accomplishes his work through you.
His discovery experience came when planting a church. Things didn’t go as he anticipated.
For me moving cross country to plant a church brought a new threshold for my perspective on God. It also provided a profound experience of God when my major plans produced no results, and I faced personal failure. I had hit the Wall, as described in Blog 34. I experienced a new kind of deep conversation with God that led to an ongoing interest in studying prayer.
You don’t have to move away to challenge your trust in God. Give encouragement to a store clerk who is having a bad day. Organize a service project to help a neighbor in need. Stretch yourself out of your comfort zone in a new way to help God’s kingdom here and now. The Spirit will work in you a new level of love, joy and peace.
Can you recall a situation in which you gained a new perspective on your relationship with God?