God wants relationship with us. This is not new information – we’ve been hearing of the call to intimacy build and build recently. However, for me the focus of that message has always been about falling in Love with our Father and our Saviour. This is so important and is fundamental to our growth, our anointing and our giftings, but God had been speaking to me recently about a practical side-effect of this intimacy.
How can we be most effective? How can God make best use of our willingness to serve?
Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.”
We have set our sights on doing God’s will, but it is Father God that guides where our feet must go and what our actions must be. For those of us who have decided to make the growth of His Kingdom our primary concern, this fact is absolutely key to our success. We know we want to serve Him and to do His will, and we position ourselves for this, but we must learn to rely on His continual guidance through each day of our lives if we are to have the greatest impact possible.
In the Old Testament, for a prophet to hear God’s voice was a big event and sometimes we are waiting for the big unmistakable voice of God to reverberate through our heads, dictating our next big move. However, we are under the new covenant therefore we have an on-going relationship with the Holy Spirit where we can hear His voice through the day, every day and, like Brother Lawrence, I think we need to pursue “The Practice of the Presence of God” to hear that still small voice, to know and understand His ways.
God doesn’t play by the rules. So much of Jesus’ ministry was shocking both theologically and culturally. The Father sent Him into the company of people representing the untouchables of Jewish society. I think Jesus must have been in very close communication with Father to be so determined, to have the guts to revolutionise society’s concept of who was acceptable. He must have been aware of Father God directing his steps so precisely, allowing His day to be directed so completely. So for us to go beyond our own barriers of what we perceive to be ‘right’, we will need that precise guidance too.
I saw this as I was reading the story of Zacchaeus [Luke 19: 1-10]:
1 Jesus was passing through Jericho. 2 A man named Zacchaeus was there. He was the director of tax collectors, and he was rich. 3 He tried to see who Jesus was. But Zacchaeus was a small man, and he couldn’t see Jesus because of the crowd. 4 So Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a fig tree to see Jesus, who was coming that way.
5 When Jesus came to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down! I must stay at your house today.”
6 Zacchaeus came down and was glad to welcome Jesus into his home. 7 But the people who saw this began to express disapproval. They said, “He went to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 Later, at dinner, Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Lord, I’ll give half of my property to the poor. I’ll pay four times as much as I owe to those I have cheated in any way.”
9 Then Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “You and your family have been saved today. You’ve shown that you, too, are one of Abraham’s descendants.
10 Indeed, the Son of Man has come to seek and to save people who are lost.”
Look at verse 5. Jesus is in Jericho, not His hometown, so it’s a good bet that he doesn’t actually know of Zacchaeus either by name or by sight. But He speaks directly to Him, calling him by name, as if they are good friends. He is being directed by Father God to a man that is ready to hear. Zacchaeus’ response is telling: he was glad to welcome him and, further down, his life is so transformed that he gives up half of all his wealth and wants to repay fourfold to anyone he has cheated.
The crowd did not approve of who Jesus wanted to hang out with, but the fruit of the encounter was a whole family turned around: saved, healed & delivered. And the funny thing is that this scornful crowd will be treated more fairly by the transformation of this reformed Tax Collector!
I believe Zacchaeus was ripe for the picking. I believe Father God directed Jesus to encounter him at just the right time and place and in just the right way to unlock that wee man’s heart.
Think about the heavily afflicted man living in tombs on the shore of Galilee. It says in Mark 5 that Jesus got into the boat to cross the lake. When they got there, the man that lived there came out to meet Him and, once Jesus had sent all the demons into the herd of pigs, He said His farewells and got back into the boat and crossed the lake again. The only reason for the trip was to set this man free. He knew why and where He was going. Father God was directing His steps and that is why no storm on a lake stopped Him.
Think about the woman at the well in John 4. We know the story well: a woman living a sinful life meets Jesus who speaks to her of her sin. She changes the subject, not wanting to speak about her past, and Jesus chooses this supposedly unclean woman to reveal His true identity. As we know, the well was in a town called Sychar, in Samaria. The normal route for Jews between Judea and Galilee was the long way around, avoiding Samaria as there was a lot of hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans. It seems the only reason He went this way was to have a meeting with a thirsty woman who needed someone to cross the racial divide to bring her a never-ending drink of life.
And that is how He wants to move through us. He wants us to be in close, intimate relationship with Him so He can direct us in the moment-by-moment of our days. He wants us to so know His voice that we have a surety to our actions that will allow us to press through the storms the enemy would bring. He’s looking for a people that know His heart and that are willing to be changed by taking on His compassion for the untouchables of society. He wants to take that willing heart we have and guide our steps to reach a desperate and needy world, unlocking hearts one-by-one, each in the right time and place, in just the right way.