Stop dwelling, and just surrender already….
It’s remarkable to me how God prunes us back for growth, even in times when we may feel we are dead-center in His will. We go on pursuing our day-to-day aspirations and long-term dreams, assuming God is blessing us all along the way. We’re deliberate in how we carry ourselves. We serve our church body, we teach our children stories from the Bible. We wash the dishes so our spouse can take a load off. We pray with a friend in need. We study the Word, meditate on it, and apply it to our lives. Some of us take pulpits and stages and preach His good news. Despite these important disciplines and deliberate choices we make to emulate Jesus, I want to challenge us to dig deeper. God gives us vision. Have we strayed away from it?
Oswald Chambers said, “We cannot bring the vision to fulfillment through our own efforts, but must live under its inspiration until it fulfills itself. We try to be so practical that we forget the vision. At the very beginning we saw the vision but did not wait for it. We rushed off to do our practical work, and once the vision was fulfilled we could no longer even see it. Waiting for a vision that ‘tarries’ is the true test of our faithfulness to God. It is at the risk of our own soul’s welfare that we get caught up in practical busy-work, only to miss the fulfillment of the vision” (My Utmost for His Highest, 3/10/10).
I’ve received both criticism and accolades in recent months for my openness to vulnerability. Some say it’s a shot in the foot; publicly admitting mistakes. Others are refreshed by the approach. Either way, here’s what I dealt with the past week:
I’ve been aggressively building up the local hip-hop scene for about a year, now. We all have our own convictions, and mine has been to find a balance as an artist between church events and dive bars. Understand, this has been years of mustering up courage, as rap crowds can be, well, unforgiving, and I’ve only come into my own the past few years regarding self-confidence. Due to new material and a fresh outlook, I’ve found that taking this material to the club scene has been beneficial and truthfully, rewarding. My agreement with my deejay, a woman of God with whom many of you are familiar (think female deejay from Massachusetts/Rhode Island), is that Jesus’ name is to be spoken loud and proud in these settings. Not necessarily preaching, but clarifying to all the Source of our enthusiasm, and opening the door to conversation and hopefully prayer off of the stage. One promoter in particular has been entirely open to the experience, as he seems to respect our courage. The crowds have been digging it, too.
That being said, I just can’t fathom how I allowed myself to succumb to the pressures of “success” the past few days. Long story short, I accepted one concert opportunity in lieu of another. The promoter said, “are you sure, this one will be bigger, man.” I still turned it down, for practical reasons that are irrelevant. Come to find out, the initial show he offered was much bigger than any of us anticipated, as the headliner is a local artist who took the #1 hip-hop spot on itunes last week. Yes, I was to be the opener. Yes, I turned it down. Yes, there will be record execs and national press. No, I will not be performing.
Brethren. I dwelled on this for the past two days. Once I climbed out of my funk, what I realized is that I strayed away from the vision of ministering in clubs, and sulked on the fact that I appeared to have missed a worldly opportunity. I became so busy with the “hustle” of it all, that I let a situation like this bog me down. God doesn’t want us to dwell on the “what-if’s” of life. Perhaps I didn’t seek His face in my decision-making and made a hasty decision, or perhaps He has special plans for the event I DID sign up for. I don’t know. I DO know that I became enamored by something the world had to offer, and strayed from the vision He gave me to evangelize. I’m confident you would agree that God’s hand on our lives is critical, and that external appearances are only for people to admire. Jesus wants absolute surrender, as my brother Mike put it to me, just this morning.
Have we surrendered ourselves in total sanctification? What is blocking our way? Are we too comfortable in our relationship with God? Have we unknowingly strayed from His vision?
4Make me know Your ways, O LORD, teach me Your paths. 5Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day. (Ps. 25:4-5 NASV)
Written by: Bobby Bishop