“I Said Yes at Urbana and Now I’m Stuck”

You said yes at Urbana 15. Yes to missions. Yes to sharing the gospel story. Yes to following Jesus. Or maybe you just said yes to saying yes to God. But now that normal life has resumed, the follow-through on your yes isn’t going so well. You don’t know your next step. Or if you do, you’re paralyzed in taking it.

Let me suggest that the answer to your stuck-ness is not to get unstuck, exactly. Instead, the way forward is to be exactly where you are, but to be there better.

Remember David Platt’s talk? Remember how he encouraged us to not try to manufacture a heart for missions but instead give our hearts to God? “Christ is intended to be your life,” he said. “Missions is the overflow of a life in love with Christ.”

It’s true that God is present in all times at once. But the only place you can be with God is in the present. So if you’re going to be in love with Jesus, you’ve got to be with him right where you are, in this present moment, and in your present circumstances.

And yes, that’s hard.

Hanging with Jesus in the present sounds wonderful when the present is a nice place to be. But there’s a lot of pain in the present these days. “Your kingdom come, your will be done,” and quick, because this present darkness is pretty dark—dark out there in the world at large and, if I’m honest, dark right here in my own heart.

For me, the future glimmers with the fulfillment of all my hopes and dreams, the satisfying resolution to all that is amiss with the present. I’d rather skip over the present and get to the future as fast as possible. But actually hanging out here in the present means admitting the uncertainty of the future. It means accepting the confines of my limited perspective. It means acknowledging that things now are not how I ache for them to be. And it means doing so without the salve of a future I can fathom.

For me, the future glimmers with the fulfillment of all my hopes and dreams, the satisfying resolution to all that is amiss with the present. I’d rather skip over the present and get to the future as fast as possible. But actually hanging out here in the present means admitting the uncertainty of the future. It means accepting the confines of my limited perspective. It means acknowledging that things now are not how I ache for them to be. And it means doing so without the salve of a future I can fathom.

I’m not happy to admit this, but I tend to let the pains and difficulties of the present lead me away from God. I use the pain as proof that God must either be not good or not in control. And with this “proof” I justify taking matters into my own hands.

At best, this leads me to take positive action to improve myself and my world. At worst, my attempts to wrestle control from God lead me to despair and fatigue. But either path will take me away from the place where God’s eternal power and divine nature intersect my finite existence: the truth-filled present.

God’s ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55). Our limited perspectives are insufficient to reconcile the pain of the present with the goodness and power of God. But it is precisely in the place of our deepest pain that God most wants to meet us and dwell with us. God wants to be with us in truth, especially when that truth aches.  

God does have work he wants to do through us. We do have a role to play in his reconciling work; God wants to use our gifts, our talents, our interests. But God is not seeking so much to use us as to love us. Our participation in his work comes out of his love for us, not the other way around. If we really want to be a part of God’s work we must first linger in his love for us in the present.

Whether you believe it or not, this present moment is full of God. God is here with you as you read these words. He’s here with you in whatever circumstances you’re in. So spend some good, solid, focused time with the mundane stuff right around you. Seek God in the details. Seek God in your moment-by-moment interactions. Seek God in whatever difficulty or hardship you may be facing. Give your heart to the God who is here in this present moment, in these present circumstances, because the God who is here loves you more than you can know. God delights in you, his creation, as you are, where you are. Be in the present with God and fall in love with him there.

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Comments

I loved reading this and found it very helpful! Thank you! Beautifully written and I'm sure it will speak to others as it has to me.

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