Candidate’s Seminar Devotions: The Story After… (Part 2)
I have a bit of a pattern problem. I’m really intrigued by them. I always look for them. Most of the time it’s not even on purpose. I can walk into a hotel lobby and the patterns of the carpet seem to jump out at me. I loved kaleidoscopes as a kid and fractals as a teenager. The golden ratio makes me happy in ways I don’t really know how to express. For whatever reason, I just pick up on patterns. They are everywhere in our world.
Scripture is no different. There are patterns that emerge as we dive into the writings and explorations that shape our faith. There are poetic patterns, literary patterns, theological patterns and even historical and behavioral patterns. There are ministry patterns as well and we see one in Isaiah 6.
- God initiates the vision. Completely outside of his own ability or effort, Isaiah is given a vision where he is brought into the temple and presence of God.
- Presence is undeniable. Nothing Isaiah has ever experienced compares to this.
- Touch changes everything. A touch from the coal is enough.
- Power is present. The power to atone comes from God alone. The power to forgive belongs to Him.
We see this pattern over and over throughout scripture. God initiates creation. His presence is without question. Through touch He crafts humankind. His power is everywhere. God calls Abraham and His influence and participation in the life and marriage of he and Sarah are abundantly evident. His guiding touch and the miracle of Isaac rewrite the story. He restores and redeems along the path. From a burning bush, God calls to Moses and while there are several doubts about the plan, there are none about who it comes from. The touch of Moses’ bare feet on that holy ground and the touch of that holy ground to Moses’ being change the relationship abruptly and completely. From that day on, Moses is decisively God’s man. Pick your Sunday School story. Read any of Jesus’ encounters with just about anyone and you’ll find it. He initiates. Presence is undeniable. Touch changes everything. Power is present. The pattern is there.
So often in ministry, we take the burden for all of this on ourselves. We might initiate on behalf of God. We might strive to create a sense of His presence. We might fail to see the gentle touch of His grace. We might get lost in our earnest efforts, our well-intentioned desires, or our best practices. We might begin to measure in the wrong ways. We might focus on the wrong things. We might ask the wrong questions. We might miss the pattern. Or we might get stuck in the wrong patterns.
Try to simplify today. As you move about your life, let go of the wrong patterns. Let go of anything that isn’t in that list. Let go of control.
Let God initiate.
Let God initiate. Rest in His presence. Be touched. (That is to say, don’t be “too good” to need His touch or “tough enough” to do it on your own.) And give Him and His power space to do what He alone can do.
Then let that pattern be your new pattern. Let His pattern for all of life be His pattern in you.
How have you experienced God through this pattern? How have you seen others experience Him through it? Write about patterns in your life. Are there any that need attention? Are there any that need to be changed? Are there unhealthy patterns that are keeping you from who God intends you to be? Journal honestly about ways to let God transform you.
Start with silence. Listen for the voice of the One that initiates. Consider your list of patterns. Surrender and submit all of them to the Lord. Even the healthy and good patterns. They will be better and healthier when you align them with Him. Be honest and open about the others. Give God space to change you. Give yourself space to be changed.