One thing we encourage saints to do when we are working with them is to let go of their own expectations and wishdreams. We have these expectations and wishdreams without realizing we do. A couple of quick examples are expecting organic church to look a certain way and believing the Lord only works through certain gifts. These expectations and wishdreams are a part of what we call the hidden self. We don’t immediately recognize them, because they’re hidden. Even from us. But there is One from whom they are not hidden: God. He peers right into our soul and knows exactly what’s going on there. Then He shakes things until all that which is of us gets shaken out and only Christ remains.
I have been shaken a lot lately. I had those same hidden expectations and wishdreams. I expected church plants to look a certain way and have a certain outcome. I expected every time to be the same. Oh, I would have told that I know the Lord is in charge, and He works things however He wants to, but deep down, I had this secret wishdream that it would be the same every time. I didn’t know I had it, but God did. So He’s orchestrating some things in my life right now that has revealed this hidden self. And I’m not liking it one bit. So, He shakes. The more I try to cling on to my hidden expectations, the more He shakes. The more He shakes, the tighter I grip and the whiter my knuckles become. And I realize how selfish it all is. Am I really in this for the Lord, or am I in this for my expectation of the Lord?
We sing a song called We Love Your Church Oh, Lord, and the last stanza starts with We’ll know You as You are, not as our minds conceive. Beautiful, powerful, simple words. My expectation was that I thought I knew how the Lord was, but He’s been shaking that to reveal that in some cases, I was only knowing Him as my mind conceived. So, when He starts to move out from under that little box, I throw a fit. This was my box! And God says, “I Am not your box.”
Lord, You are not my box. You are beyond my box. Please be the box that I fit into. I want to know You as You are, not as my mind conceives. Shake me down until only You remain. You are the Kingdom that cannot be shaken.
Another aspect of the Lord’s discipline, or child-training, or pruning, that coincides with shaking is baking. Our God is a consuming fire, and He likes to turn up the heat sometimes to purify us into His gold, pearl, and precious stones. That’s the material He uses to build His church, not the wood, hay, and stubble that can be easily shaken down. What’s that song? Refiner’s Fire, my heart’s one desire? Something like that. He’s been shakin’ and bakin’ me lately.
The other morning, I sat with the Lord while smoking a pipe. As I was lighting the pipe, I prayed, Lord, light the fire to me. Purify me. Burn me away until only You remain. I quickly held my breath, because the Lord likes to answer those kinds of prayers. He delights in His people surrendering their all to Him. And at the heart of it, I delight in it, too. For He is my delight.
Through His fire, we are transformed. Through His fire, a new creation is born. Through His fire, life is transmitted. Through His fire, a city is built. Through His fire, a bride is prepared. Through His fire, living stones are fitted together. Through His fire, His glory is made complete.
And I Helped
Bridge, the kiddos, and I are now in Austin, TX. We’re here because the Lord has something planned, and we’re gonna be a part of it somehow, someway. The Walters (Carrie and her family) are here, too, and another family will be moving shortly. We are excited. We’ve been praying and warring against powers and principalities – and we haven’t even “started” anything yet!
Among the many shakings and bakings that have been taking place lately, I’ve helped my wife with her new eBook, Bread & Wine: 20 Recipes for Eating and Drinking Christ. It’s a really terrific book, chalk full of ideas to help you behold and fellowship with the Lord. It’s out today, so please go check it out!
I also recently helped our oldest kiddo to lunt for the first time on his 18th birthday. That was fun!
I’ve also got my own little blog going over at With Pipe & Pen. Part of the shaking and baking going on with me has been to help me find my “author voice.” That’s where I’m willing to write want I want to write, or what I believe the Lord is really asking me to write, without fearing the consequences. Those consequences being readers who don’t like or agree with what I’ve written. That was a hidden wishdream – that everyone would like me. 🙂
Lord, create in me a clean heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit – a willing spirit to be shaken and baked as You see fit so that only Christ remains. Amen.