LIVING THE VISION
Recently, I surfed the Apple App Store and found something that sounded like just the tool I needed to further enhance the use of my iPad for work related projects. I purchased, downloaded and began exploring the app.
Initial testing proved satisfying, but a couple of limitations surfaced. I was beginning to wonder if I had wasted $4.99. I started reading more reviews and found others who had run into the same constraint, but who found a minor tweak that removed the barrier.
More experimentation and testing and IT WORKED just as advertised! I was excited!
Immediately, I emailed a colleague (one who calls my iPad a “toy”) to let her know, yet again, this is a “ministry tool” with wide-ranging capacity. Her response was, and I quote, “woo-hoo!”
I began telling my new discovery to everyone who walked into my office. I even shared my exciting news with a 5-year-old who likes to play with my iPad. He was really impressed!
Most of us have had similar experiences. It might be experiencing some new technology gadget, some new restaurant, some new shopping area, some new book, some new sporting equipment, or some new diet. The discovery is so satisfying that we feel compelled to tell somebody—anybody!
Tell it—and we do! Without reservation, without hesitation, and without filtering our audience we tell the good news of our discovery and the positive difference it has already made and will make in our life. Our unsolicited statement about the discovery is part celebratory and part endorsement. We want others to experience this new found “answer.”
This year’s Annual Conference theme is “Let the Redeemed Say So,” and is intended to heighten our intentionality about sharing what God has done in our lives.
The theme words are from Psalm 107:2. The preceding verse is even more familiar: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love endures forever!”
The psalmist indicates that the first natural response of one who is aware of the life-transforming gift God has given them is to praise God. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his love endures forever.” The psalm continues with the memory being stirred of all God has done for the children of Israel to redeem their collective life.
Praise is a first response. Telling others about the gift is a close second response. Fast forward into the gospels and you find that individuals whom Jesus encountered would soon tell someone else about this man who was like none other. The redeemed would go tell family members, neighbors, and even strangers about how Jesus had healed, forgiven and restored their lives.
They even told it when Jesus instructed them to keep quiet about it. There was an unstoppable urge to tell. No reservation. No hesitation. No filter. The redeemed would not be silenced!
So, why are we so quiet these days about things of faith? Why the reservation and hesitation and the ultra-fine-tuned filter?
Is our life-transforming experience so distant that it doesn’t naturally well up within us? It seems that the things we freely share today are things that we just discovered. They are fresh on our minds. They seem so practical and beneficial we feel compelled to tell others.
Makes one wonder if we have had a recent encounter with God that is worth sharing? We know, as Blackaby and King write, that God is always at work around us. God is always pursuing a relationship with us that is real and personal. God is always inviting us to join in His work. God is always empowering those who follow such that the results reinforce that God is at work transforming our life—and the lives of others.
So, why the silence? Have we lost our spiritual sensitivity to God’s work in our life and around us? Have we taken it all for granted? Have we put ourselves in the rich spiritual environment for these encounters to register in our lives?
God has been at work in our lives in the past. Like the psalmist, we could list many places along the way where God has rescued us as we wandered in desert wastes (v.4), delivered us from our distress (v. 6), and satisfied us when we were hungry and thirsty (v. 9).
God is still meeting us in our desert places, redeeming us from our distress, and feeding us with food that satisfies eternally.
Let the redeemed say so! Let praise flow from our lips and lives toward our God, whose love endures forever. Let our unrestrained testimony ring out to others about this loving God whose love is reaching out all around.
The good news of God’s love and transforming work far exceeds any other discovery we will experience! Tell it—joyfully, respectfully and genuinely!
Dr. Brad Brady is the Assistant to the Bishop for Connectional Ministries.