5 beds and hundreds of hearts

Sukit, Amp, Gordie in East Vancouver

It was near the end of August when I received a call from my friend Sukit in Bangkok. For 6 years we have encouraged him to come to Canada. He had visited us in Vancouver 9 years ago. Sukit called me to tell me he felt it was God’s time for them to come. I was taken aback by both his assurance and his boldness. I didn’t feel confident in discerning if the time was right and in fact suggested it might not be the time. I left it in their hands to decide. A month later Sukit and his wife Amp arrived.

My friends have just returned to Bangkok, Thailand. I miss them already.

While Sukit and Amp were in Western Canada for 13 days, sleeping in 5 different beds, they visited groups and leaders scattered over 4 cities. As they did one recurring question kept surfacing in my heart …. I felt God asking me this question. Are you still fascinated with the Holy Spirit? Not are you enamoured by the gifts of the spirit but rather are you captured by looking for me?… looking for my in breaking presence today, now, here…..in the people I meet? Over the last year I have found myself quieting the strategist within me, leaving more space for the discerner in me to awaken and lead. As a result I think I was ready for this question.

Living in the space of a discerner allowed the question of being fascinated by the Holy spirit to hit me between the eyes.

I have wrestled with that question since. God can be messy when he shows up in person. We can get our discernment on what he is doing wrong. He can embarrass us as he did the woman at the well, he can ignore our question like he did the rich young ruler and he can speak to the darkness in our well – meaning comments, as he did Peter, when we are simply trying to be helpful. It might not be safe, comfortable and pretty when God shows up. When the Holy Spirit comes anything can happen… not just nice stuff. The pastoral part in me cringes while the prophetic part of me cheers when I think of increasing my welcome. I am of two minds but one heart on this. I certainly don’t see the need to abandon my intellect or the need to abandon the pastoral part of me but I do see the need to open my heart wider… again.

His manifest presence can be fraught with human misinterpretation and wounding yet in the end I realize we have little alternative if we intend to see disciples of Jesus made and God’s vision for our lives advance in us. We are not smart enough to change ourselves ( I am certainly not) nor does self awareness alone solve it. Awareness creates understanding and relief. Though a good start, self – awareness does not remedy or solve our spiritual problems.

I watched again as the ‘spirit’ came ‘on’ and ‘to’ people everywhere we went with my friends from Thailand… I too was awakened again.

I was reminded that relationship is good and right but relationship alone is not enough to fix our spiritual ills…. relationship is the container to hold trust for when the mess arrives. It takes the in-breaking of God and our willingness to look for it and reach for it to see change. Coffee after coffee, gathering after gathering, I again experienced the life changing value of looking for God and inviting God to come. Whether we prayed for Bobby, the crack addict at Jacob’s well, the young waiter at Applebee’s in Calgary or the many families and leaders needing some encouragement from God along the way, it was clearly evident that God’s in-breaking kingdom matters to our spiritual condition.

It starts with recognizing that many of our problems are spiritual and not just relational or spiritual and not just requiring the intentional reordering of our lives. Without the present power of Jesus’ in-breaking today, now, here, we can only get so far on relationship and self awareness. To do God’s work without seeing what God is doing seems a bit futile at the moment…. Hopefully that moment will hold.

Encouraged by my friends
Todd Rutkowski

~ by blueporch on October 6, 2010.

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