These past several months it seems most of my spare time has been spent staring at my back yard. You’ve heard the expression “it’s like watching grass grow?” That’s what I’ve been doing. For the record, it’s just about as exciting as watching paint dry. My brother and I tore up the yard and put down seed over Memorial Day weekend. There’s been a lot of progress but it’s not there just yet. I am always wondering if it’s getting enough water, or too much; if I put down enough seed or need to buy more fertilizer. I’ve become somewhat adept in adjusting sprinkler heads… well, more accurately, let’s just say I’ve taken several unexpected showers… in the yard… with all my clothes on.
It was during one of the many sprinkler checks recently that I discovered a problem. One of the sprinklers in the corner of the lawn was popping up just fine but no water was coming out. I tried opening the head to increase the amount of spray… nothing. I removed the sprinkler head and examined it. As far as I could tell it looked fine. I ran the system without the head in place just to make sure there wasn’t a problem with the line. DRENCHED! Nope, the line was okay. It was definitely the sprinkler head. After several tries I finally recognized the problem. There were two tiny stones that had gotten lodged inside the sprinkler head at some point and were blocking the water from escaping. The pressure was there to make the head pop up in the yard like it should, but the stones prevented the water from escaping.
What on earth could this have to do with being “God’s glove” in the world you ask? Well, stay with me.
I visited another church today. It was a small church but it was crowded. Worship was great and the congregation was friendly. They were involved in their community and certainly had an evident love for the Lord. As the pastor began to speak I was engaged. He was in the Word and showing us its truths. His presentation of the Word made me thirsty for more. Then suddenly… a rock in the sprinkler head.
We went from hearing the Word of God and discovering its application to our life to listening to jokes and stories. It was such a sudden shift. As one story turned into another and the pastor’s gestures grew more animated and his voice got louder I actually felt my spirit grieve. We had it. We were there. It was the exciting conclusion of the last chapter of Acts but suddenly… nothing. The Word was blocked. There was a rock in the sprinkler!
Now, I want to stop here before I go further. Being a shepherd of a church is a calling from God and this man has been chosen as such. He is doing the will of the Lord and I want to be careful that my words do not criticize him as one of God’s anointed shepherds. I am also certainly not opposed to clever stories or illustrations that help us understand the Word better. (Please note every blog entry I’ve ever written!) But the shift I witnessed this morning was distinct. It was different than just an illustration or a funny story. It shut the Word of God off. Our focus was taken from God and turned towards one man… one man that stood out in front of a thirsty crowd. Our focus was taken from the life-giving water to the sprinkler head that delivers it.
Perhaps it was just easier for me to see because I was an outsider. The congregation seemed to love it. It was no doubt how they got to connect with their pastor. I don’t blame him for wanting to engage them personally. I don’t blame them for wanting to see his personal side. They enjoyed the detour and it certainly appeared that he did too.
But, I challenge all of us as members of “the royal priesthood,” there IS no story greater than God’s! If we have the opportunity to share the precious truths of God’s Word let’s commit to each other that we will get out of the way and let His Spirit flow. Let the living water of God reach the people He is aiming at and let’s not allow rocks to get in the way so that all they see is us. It’s not about us. It’s only about Him.
To this pastor’s credit he did return to the Word after several detours and he did present a gospel message. Praise God!
I recently heard a presentation by Bible teacher, Priscilla Shirer on the “Stewardship of God’s Presence.” She quoted from John 1:36-37 where John the Baptist says to his disciples as Jesus walks by, “Look, the Lamb of God!” As soon as John’s disciples heard what John said, the Bible says, “They followed Jesus.” John pointed to Jesus and said, There He is, boys. And he got out of their way so they could follow Him. What Priscilla said in her presentation very simply but very boldly… “THAT’S ministry!” Pointing people to Jesus and then staying out of their way (and His) so that they can follow Him!
Lord, I thank you for the church I was at this morning. I thank you for that servant of yours and I lift up him and his congregation. May your Word always be taught there and may more and more come to know you through the preaching and speaking of your Word in that place. May all of us Father, be conduits of your Word, that your Spirit would flow through us freely. Help us to always be open to you and to not let the focus turn to us. Thank you for the power of your love and of your truth. In Jesus’ name, amen.