When we first felt the Lord whisper hints of a new season, we were not too sure exactly what that would entail. Each one in our family shared their little snippets of instruction from the Lord, and we eventually ended up at our current church. In the last two years at this church, we have all grown and been challenged in different ways. The path God hinted at two years ago becomes clearer with each step of faith we take, and the purpose of this journey is also being revealed.
For me, this journey is still yet beginning! In the ten years before moving to my current church, I saw the Lord fulfill a prayer of restoration in an incredible way. Then, just after the fruit was harvested, and while I was still enjoying its sweet taste, He gave His new direction. Now, I see plans in place to usher in another long, but fruitful season of growing in God, a season of working towards forgotten promises, and in particular, building upon the foundation of Christ. I remember asking the Lord which church we were meant to settle in, and how we should know it was the right church. Many times, we visited a church and felt God’s presence there. Yet, many times, He said no, this was not the one. Finally, we visited our current church. It came as my sister shared she felt the Lord saying that we would be in a city church, rather than one in the suburbs. I admit, I wasn’t too sure about this church when we first visited. It was so different from the ones we had been to before. Yet, God was about to change my mindset and prepare me for more of His good works!
“Fling Wide”, by Misty Edwards, is a song based on Song of Songs 4:16 –
“Awake, O north wind, And come, O south! Blow upon my garden, That its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come to his garden And eat its pleasant fruits.”
It is a song I used to sing often, declaring to the Lord that I wanted to be tested and tried, refreshed and refined in Him – “Come O winds of testing, come winds of refreshing, come and blow over me.” The north wind is strong, and the south wind is gentle. In Song of Songs, the beloved desires that these winds might bring out the perfume of her garden, the pleasing worship of her intimacy with God. Well, the winds are blowing indeed, and here are just three of the things I am learning in this new season.
1. The coupling of passion for Christ, and effective leadership in the church.
I’ve always been curious to see how godly people, passionate for Christ, manage to direct their zeal for the Lord wisely in ministering to the church. In the church, leaders spiritually shepherd the congregation, and part of this includes effective organisation of people, finances, and ministries. It means learning how to say no, how to make vision a reality, and requires a spirit of discerning, a heart that really seeks first the Lord. Again and again, in different ministries, I heard the leaders explain how we minister to minimise distraction so that the people can be more attentive to the spirit of God. This heart is one which cares for people and seeks to usher them toward God. It is a mindset that sees us ministering toward God, and not toward ourselves, and one that also requires us to be firm and disciplined. Yes, in ministry I am drawing people into worship with God, but I am also fighting against distraction that might draw them away.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” – [1 Peter 5:9]
I have been serving on the worship team, and I this opportunity is ministering to me! On this team, we mix our own fallbacks, which is something I have never done before. The first time I tried, I asked for everything and when the whole band played together, I couldn’t hear anything, or even myself! Someone helped me out and fixed all the levels. Sometime later, I managed to create a fallback where I could hear myself perfectly, but couldn’t hear anyone else. Neither of those fallbacks worked very well, and I am still learning to play and follow along in the band, to tune my ear to different tempos, and rhythms, and keys, and chord progressions.
Playing in the band makes me think about the role we play in the Kingdom of God. Each one of us is unique, yet we serve one purpose in Christ. We may have different skills, and different ministry opportunities, but we are all seeking the kingdom of God. We are playing together in His band, to proclaim His Name. Focus is important. We need to know our own role, but we also need to be aware of those around us. At times, one of more people may be well-placed to work together for God’s glory. At the same time, if we have no focus but invest in every idea and ministry, we lose sight of what God has called us ourselves to do. Band members each play their unique sound, but also listen to one other to create beautiful music. In the same way, we need to listen to, and be aware of what God is doing through people in our neighborhood, our city, our country and our world, without losing sight of the role we play.
“Now therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” – [Ephesians 2:19-20]
3. Qualities of a Good Shepherd
It is interesting to see how people’s past experiences can guide the way they pastor a church. We’ve seen pastors zealous for the truth, those who give a message for people at every stage of their walk with Christ, and those who demonstrate a genuine compassion for people. I want to be able to communicate both zeal for the God’s truth, and compassion for people. There is wisdom to be learnt in this, and I’m learning as I watch and learn from people who have travelled this road a little further. One verse that I am still learning to put into practice is Matthew 10:16 – “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” One of the qualities of a good shepherd is the fruit seen in the way their lives devoted to God, and the clarity of their love and compassion for people. A good shepherd is not afraid to set boundaries, and not afraid to give space for the Holy Spirit to move in people.
I’m excited to see what this season brings. Already, I’m starting to work in my own capacity as God shows me how I can invest my talents, and work on some of the skills He has given me. I’m thankful for His leadership and His faithfulness as He grows me in Him. Jesus, I’m ready to let the winds blow and be refined in my character! Come, Lord Jesus – come have Your way in me.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” [Psalm 139:24]