Last Wednesday, I met for an early breakfast with a dear old friend. He a man of God in the truest sense of the term. He is also a man of prayer and has been for the 20 years I have known. Prayer is his way of life.
In the course of our warm-spirited catch up conversation he spoke of struggling over Christmas time to connect with Jesus in prayer. He was not hearing him and wondering why. As I listened, the Spirit began to remind me of how I had largely abandoned listening prayer almost completely since I moved to Massachusetts. Yesterday, he exhorted me to "return to my strength." I know he was talking about listening to him. My entire ministry at the Center For Renewal/Klesis grew and flowed from the frequent practice of this spiritual discipline. It guided all we did.
I had abandoned my strength in favor of tackling the avalanche of minutiae attending launching a church. Really foolish. Really, really foolish!
So beginning yesterday morning, I returned to the Well to listen in the Scriptures and to the still, small voice of the Spirit. My life depends on it. I little noticed the riches of what I had forsaken. Living in this dark city without being spiritually tethered was desiccating my spirit and dimming my hope little by little. I was wandering in the wilderness of my own making.
Even after just two mornings, here's what I have been shown upon returning to the well-worn path:
1. Without listening I am largely wandering around on my own.
2. Without listening I defer quickly to my motivation for exploring without a clear design.
3. Without listening, I focus on trifles and spend my resources on what matters little, but looks promising.
4. Without listening, I stumble more easily into sin, errant passions, and foolish pursuits.
5. Without listening, I have little discernment about spiritual matters and the lying spirits who seek to entangle me in dangerous traps.
6. Without listening, I am spiritually impotent and frighteningly self-absorbed with little of true Kingdom consequence.
7. With listening, my love for Jesus and desire for his glory grows and centers me.
8. With listening, I locate his will and way; I am more able to obey and produce fruit that lasts.
9. With listening, I am more allied to my deeply spiritual wife ad partner in ministry; we are more in sync in everything.
10. With listening, wonder grows from apprehending the greatness, beauty, holiness and majesty of God.
11. With listening, I have the greatest chance of being effective in launching imagine/Northampton.
12. With listening, I am more able to love and connect my broken humanity with the broken humanuty of everyone around me.
In other words, it is my lifeline. I am a fool to neglect, much less abandon it.
Jesus, may you keep me on a short leash to help me stay near you with open ears, a soft heart, quickened mind, and a deepening love for you and those you love. Please let me never stray again from my strength and my LIFE.