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Dec 23

Running With the Herd Not!

This week I have been reading a book that I received at my family christmas exchange.  The book is about a man’s journey to find healing after he lost his wife of 35 years to cancer.  As part of his healing process he hiked the Applacian Trail.   He not only chronicles his hike but mixes in stories of people he met, and his journey toward God.

I awoke this morning at 5:00am and couldn’t sleep.  I decided to read some more in the book and catch up on my bible reading.  There was a short story I want to share with you from the book.  It really touched me deeply, because I find the same struggle within myself so often.  This is being told to the author by a fellow hiker who took the trail name Pilgrim.

“You know, Apostle, ;I’m taking the day off totay, and I’ve no got no reason to be awake this early except that I felt God telling me to get myself up and go across the street and see someone.  And now, I’ve no doubt that you are the person he wanted me to see.  Let me tell you a true story.

“I was a minister for many years in several prominent churches.  I also had a ministry trying to reach young teenagers, wanting to teach them the Gospel and trying to get them off drugs, but I was discouraged because I wasn’t seeing any results for my efforts.  Then one day God told me to grow my hair long.  ‘You want me to do what?’ I asked.  ‘Grow your hair long’ was the reply.  Well, then I had to make a choice.  Either continue ministering with my hair short and appear normal, or risk embarrassment and ostracism from my community.  I decided to listen to God and grow my hair.  And not only did I let grow–almost all the way down my back–but I also braided it into dreadlocks.

“A most amazing thing happened.  The kids flocked around me, listening to the Gospel.  The longer my hair grew, the more connection I had with the kids.  I preached the Gospel boldly, and was never ashamed of it.  And kids were being saved and delivered from sin and drugs.”

–  The Author Continues –

I sat dumbfounded, listening in awe and contrition.  In awe, because I knew what Pilgrim was telling me was true; God knew I needed encouragemant that day and had sent him across the street to meet me.  But I also felt nudges of shame, because I knew that just three months ago, back home in Religiousville, Ohio, I would have emphatically pronounced this man crazy.  For most of my life, I would never have responded to such a request from God because I was too worried about what other people would say.  I have no doubt now that God has spoken to and perhaps made unusual requests of many people on our big pile of Christianity; but because we are so concerned with our image, we’re afraid to break free.  We’re more worried about what other people think than about what God wants.

–From “Hiking Through” by Paul Stutzman –

It seems God has been saying to me lately “You keep asking for revival, but you wouldn’t know be beginnings of revival if I put it right under your nose.  Your are looking for something that is neatly packaged and fits within your little tidy world view, and your churchyology, but I am much bigger than that.  Are you ready to relinquish control and be swept away in the river of what I want to do?  If you continue to try and shoehorn me into your structures it will never happen.”

So the question for me is what does true godliness look like?  How does one walk daily in tune with the prompting of the Holy Spirit?  Are the difficult and trying circumstances that I encounter really God’s attempt to get back my attention, a call for me to once again rejoin him in what he is doing.  I have been finding that much of what God does is simple, so simple that I need to pay attention to see it, the sad fact is I often look for the big and bold things and miss what is happening right under my nose.

 

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