Saturday, 20 December 2014

The "Journey" IS the Destination

“The Lord said to him “This is the Land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob….I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there. Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the Land of Moab at the Lord’s command.  Deuteronomy 34:4-5
Dead sea looking over to Jordan today.

I ALWAYS felt sad when I read about Moses not entering into the Promised Land. To let him see, but not to cross felt cruel. I thought his punishment for striking the rock was a little harsh in the light of what the Israelites did over and over again (Num 20:12). It is just not fair. In the light of what Moses did, I am guilty of so much more. I fear if that’s what happens if you strike a rock instead of speak to it. I could relate to it more as Moses just giving the people a little drama to make the point as they seemed so easily discouraged and ready to blame God for everything. I understand why he would do that! Maybe Ministry has been a constant struggle as the dramatic in me has clearly stepped into spaces that probably cross that line a million times over.
I was encouraged recently when I read Ruth Barton’s book, “Strengthening the soul of your leadership,” as she eloquently penned my exact thoughts and the processing that I have felt numerous times this year.

“It’s possible that this could happen to me. That I, too, could work hard and serve long – straining toward the goal or dream – and that God might someday say to me, “you can look, but you can’t go in. You can long for it, but someone else will take it across the finish line. You might be the one who saw it, but someone else will take it the rest of the way. For anyone who has dreamed dreams and visions, this possibility is almost too much to bear.”  (pg 213)
This year God has taken me on a journey, of letting go, of giving over my dreams for His dreams, of stepping into the wilderness again and trusting Him, of learning to pray the “prayer of the serene disciple” and of accepting that I may not be taking something to the finishing line, but to learn to be happy to cheer from the sidelines and support those who continue the dreams.  For Moses, this had moved way beyond “punishment” or what he did or did not do. This was about acknowledging HIS story, and that we even get to play a part is simply a privilege. 
As I read through the story of Moses again, I actually felt a peace and a sense that Moses wasn’t standing on that mountain with suddenness or a sense that he was “just a very naughty boy” (in the words of “Life of Brian”). I felt God show me through His eyes that the destination was not actually as important as the journey, and what we learn along the way. That in fact for Moses, the TRUE Promised Land was actually being with God……it was not a PLACE or country that made this so.    

“Clearly something happened to Moses – he was so changed by the journey that he was completely at Peace with himself and God. Nothing of this world had any hold on him at all. ”. (R. Haley Barton, “Strengthening the soul of your leadership” pg 215)

I have known for a long time that it is more about the journey than the destination. I had just never considered NOT ever getting to the destination while here on earth that I would need to give that over and cheer others along. That maybe God has called me to watch from the sidelines was something I was not prepared for till now. It is one thing to come to the end of your life and know you have played your part, it is quite another to feel like you want to do so much more and God is saying “No, this is not what I have called you to. I want you to pass the baton and be the stagehand, a valued role, but very different to being on stage.” 

While I am mixing my metaphors here… Leadership sure does have its twists and turns.

Lord help us to make sure YOU are always the LEADER and we are simply to say YES to YOU in the deepest way, wherever that takes us on the journey.  
As Paul says in Philippians, “For to me, to live is Christ to die is gain”   (vs 1:21, NIV)

Help me to LIVE for you, daily.

Monday, 8 December 2014

What are we passing on - fear of faith?

Recently, at a women's retreat I took a group of girls for a walk to a stunning lookout.   The walk was through bush, over logs and pushing through scrub at times. It was a bit of an adventure but worth it in the end for the spectacular view of the beautiful national park rolling down to the sea. I noticed during the walk one young girl in particular was struggling with it all, as this was clearly the first time she had had to "rough" it a bit.  To her credit she pushed through as we all encouraged her and we eventually got to the lookout.  It is very high and granted the railings are falling apart; but standing on the rocks, back from the edge, is exhilarating and exciting.

I understand that many suffer from the fear of heights but this is not something that I personally struggle with, so while still holding the girls’ hands I showed them the beautiful view and they loved it.  The young girl who had struggled at first went home to her mum and shared how much she loved the walk that I had taken them on.  She talked to her mum so much about it that her mother asked me to take her to the lookout too, which I was more than happy to do.  This time, I noticed that the young girl was quite courageous and adventurous as she led the way to the lookout.  

Once we got to the lookout I held some other children's hands and led them to a place on the rocks where the view is wide and open and the most stunning. As we were admiring the view, I noticed that the young girl and her mother were not with us. I turned to find them over in the corner and the young girl had a shivering look of fear on her face. I called out to ask if anything was wrong and the mother said, "We are ok here, I am too afraid to come any closer!"  Where they were standing the view was obscured and they really couldn't see a lot.  I saw a child who only minutes earlier had been eagerly enjoying the journey, quickly change having been told that it was too dangerous.  As a result "fear" was all over her face. When I tried to encourage them to trust me and come to the place where they could see better, the young girl looked as if she wanted to but was stopped by her mother.

I initially felt a little guilty that I had done something wrong the day before in not even thinking about how this mother might have felt about me taking her daughter to the edge of a cliff. But then I felt sad as I watched the fear on both their faces and realised that what was fear today; in a different environment yesterday, was an adventurous, exciting experience for the young girl.  
I saw the sudden physical, psychological and emotional change in a child with just one statement from her mother, paralysing her from moving forward.  Whereas the previous day, only one word of encouragement had helped her to push through and gain the full experience.

As I said, I clearly don't have a fear of heights, so I don't understand the feeling of not wanting to go the edge and see the awesome view but it did make me stop and think about what fears I do have and whether or not I impose them onto my children, depriving them of their own experiences and adventures.   I realised how affected our children are by how we respond to any given situation.  We are either adults who empower or adults who stifle.   Like the mother in this situation it is usually not deliberate or with the desire to harm our children, rather more often it is out of the desire to protect. 

We left that lookout with the mother never really seeing the full view and often it is our fear that stops us from seeing all that God wants to show us.  The step of faith leads us into places that are not always comfortable or that require risk, but this is the road He calls us to walk.  Fear has the power to stop this, which is why God talks about fear a lot.
"Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to
 fear for I'm your God. 
I'll give you strength. 
I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, 
keep a firm grip on you" 
(Is 41:10, The Message)

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, 
life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a 
childlike "What's next, Papa?" 
(Romans 8:15, The Message)

What are we passing on to our children - fear or faith?  Do we need to trust God more and let our children go so that they might even teach us things and lead us into adventures and experiences?  What fears stifle us from all that God wants to show us?  As a parent how can we ensure that we empower our kids in their journey by modelling a life of faith not fear?