Get ready for disruption!

Yesterday I went to meet some friends in the central part of the city. I thought I would catch the train as I enjoy being out among people as well as being able to sit and think my own thoughts or read a book on the hour long journey. On the way to the station, it started to rain. Getting there early, I sat in the car for a few minutes waiting for the rain to abate and eventually made the trek through the pouring rain to the platform, only to find the train was cancelled. Being a Saturday, the next one was going to get me in way too late, so I decided I was better off driving.

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On my way, I reflected on my disappointment with not being on the train and the extra pressure of driving on the freeway in heavy rain, not to mention the traffic jams, gridlock and detours at the other end. Asking God about what was going on, the first word that popped into my head was "disruption". Yep, that was true. My day wasn't wrecked and even my overall plans hadn't changed. They had just been disrupted. What disrupted them was that rain!

If you have been following my previous posts, you would know that we have been longing for rain. It has been about 10 weeks since we have had any significant rain, so I could not possibly be upset or annoyed about the rain. However, it did disrupt me. Besides the train being cancelled, I was wearing sandals and my feet got wet! (Everyone say "ohhh")

However, as is His way, this wasn’t the only time this week God has flagged disruption with me. On Thursday we had our 'lives' disrupted when our new neighbour was taking down a tree and managed to drop our telephone line in the process - no internet!! Quelle horreur! Amazingly, Telstra came out and fixed it within a couple of hours and I got a lovely bottle of red from the neighbour for our trouble. But, oh, the potential for disruption!

The third disruption happened today, with a farewell to our much loved senior pastor and his wife as they (and we) move into a new season. This one has the even more potential for real disruption. Replacing a pastor is not usually a quick and easy process and there is the problem of keeping up momentum in the meantime. And what if we don't like the new person? What if they want to change stuff we like? What if they make us uncomfortable?

Coming back to the rain, what strikes me is that sometimes the things we really want to see happen, that we know are from God impact us in unforeseen ways and disrupt our lives. However, I do believe that when God disrupts us, there is always blessing and provision in the midst of it, (way better than phone data and red wine!)

It reminds me of when my daughter was born. I was ready to be a mum. I wanted to be a mum. I was so happy when she was born (she was getting way too big and uncomfortable inside!) and I finally got to meet her. It was so amazing to go through that experience of a new being growing inside you and of becoming a family. 

However, boy did it disrupt my life!

I remember having a conversation with myself one morning at 3am as I was awake feeding her, having my very own little pity party about disrupted sleep. "You wanted this - and this is what it means to have a child. No, your life will never be the same, but it is a good thing."

So, yesterday, when my day was disrupted by the rain in the middle of it all, I felt God was saying, 

Get ready for disruption!

Many of us are longing for change. We are longing for God to step in and bring about those shifts, whether in our personal lives or in our communities and beyond. As we look around the world, we are longing for the transformation that only God can bring: New Life!

And what I feel God is saying to us is: 

"You want change? You want transformation? You want Me to birth something new? Well, get ready for disruption. I am going to do something, and it is going to be big, but I warn you, it is going to disrupt you. Are you ready for that? Anything other than Me that you have held on to as central, as so important, vital even, in your life, are you prepared to have disruption there? Because when I come, I disrupt the status quo, I disrupt the comfortable, I disrupt the satisfied, I disrupt the self-important and self-focussed. There is something bigger at hand, and I am not going to let anything come before it. I'm not going to let anything disrupt my disruption!"

If you don't believe me, just look at what happened when Jesus came the first time - even as a tiny baby, He caused huge disruption. By the time He was a fully grown man. He caused so much disruption to people that they wanted to kill Him, which is exactly what they did, and He even disrupted that, by rising from the dead!

So how will you respond to God's disruptions to your plans, your comfort? Will you complain? Will you throw yourself a little pity party? Will you run and hide? Or will you ask Him to show you the way forward, and embrace the new path, be ready to pour yourself out for whatever God is doing to bring about that change?

Get ready! Disruption is coming!!

 

He's never going to stop!

Relentless.

This is the word that came to mind as I stood out on the rocks at the edge of the ocean.

I have always loved going to the beach, but particularly ocean beaches. There is something innately attractive in the raw power of nature. Spending the weekend in an amazing house where all the windows looked straight out at the ocean in the middle of winter holds its own attractions – being cosy and warm (with the fire going), watching rain rush across the bay chased by bands of sunshine and the accompanying parade of rainbows is soothing to the soul and refreshing.

However, standing at the edge of the ocean on one of our long walks, with the pounding of the huge waves upon the rocks, I felt a little intimidated. You hear stories of people standing that little bit too close when a freak wave comes up and they are claimed by the powerful force of the ocean.

As I stood there, I felt God saying that this is His creation. Think about that for a moment. Dwell on it.

God created this powerful, relentless, cleansing, refreshing overwhelming force that is the ocean.

When we create something from our own imagination, it generally reflects something of ourselves; how we think; who we are. So it is with God. His creation, as we reflect on it, as we dwell on it, tells us much about Him.

The ocean often speaks of His power and might, but 

the power and might of the ocean is dwarfed by His power and might.

His power and might become inconceivable to me at this point. A bit like Job, when God tells Him all the things He created – who are you to question Me? We too are dwarfed by comparison, even with all our self-importance and belief in the significance of what we do or don’t do.

But in the midst of this reflection comes another thought, a reminder. God’s power is not about Him being a megalomaniac; it is not about control, coercion, or even competition.

His power is in His love.

The waves of the ocean this weekend have been relentless – even as one breaks, the next one and the next one and the next one and the next one just keep coming. We cannot think to hold them back or even influence them one iota. God’s love and the power of His love is even more sure. Whether we acknowledge it, are able to accept it, or even want it, His love toward us is relentless. What we do with it is up to us.

For some of us, we like to sit up in the house on the hill. We can watch from there, but the roar of the waves is heavily muted by the glass and the impact of the ocean is almost negligible to us, other than the enjoyment of watching it ebb and flow and the beauty of its raw power. But we don’t want it to change us or cause us any discomfort, so we stay where it is safe and comfortable.

For others, perhaps we like to get more up close and personal and a brisk walk along the beach is more our scene. We can hear and feel the pounding of the surf, smell the salt and the seaweed, connect with the impact the ocean has had on the environment, bringing beautiful gifts of shells and soft sand for us to enjoy the texture and colours. We can explore at the edges, rugged up against the chill and being careful not to get our feet wet.

Today I was reminded of my own tentativeness towards God’s raw power. Part of me was ready to dive in for a swim in that beautiful ocean, even though the water was only an icy 15 degrees or so and the wind chill was fierce. The idea of stripping off and feeling the refreshing, cleansing, invigorating power first hand was somehow very attractive. Standing on that rock watching the waves pound and their spray rise metres into the air, though, I felt that little finger of fear as well. If I fell, if I was washed in, would I too be pounded into the rocks? Would I be hurt, damaged, broken?

I think that we all have times when we hold back from God because we sense His power and the fear rises up that we may lose something of ourselves that we value or want to hold onto (like our dignity, or control!), or worse still, that we might feel pain and even find ourselves broken.

Looking back over the past couple of decades, there are a number of times where I see that I was in that powerful ocean, being taken places I had no control over, even feeling quite pounded and at a number of times, completely broken. While I can’t say that they were great times, there is a point at which I am glad I went through them. There is a point where I found that pushing into and past the pain brought me to a new place, a place where I have been remade, renewed, refreshed. And while I may have felt I lost my dignity at times, it has still been worth it.*

Even as I write, I am reminded of giving birth. My daughter was born after a long labour, in the end with the assistance of forceps. At the point of birth, there were around 10 other people in the room, all watching what was going on - talk about losing your dignity! However, all that fades into nothing with the new life that was birthed through that process. It is the same with us as we go through the process of letting go of our control and allowing the relentless power and force of God’s love overwhelm us again. What is birthed through those times is invaluable.

In ministry, we often work with people in the process of letting go of stuff that has been their protection and helped them feel in control. Moving through the process of forgiveness and release to the other side can be really scary and painful. There is no guarantee when you are in that place that it will be better on the other side. As much as I know it will and experience with so many others has shown this to be true for them also, I can’t prove it to you. You have to experience it for yourself.

Are you ready to stop and allow God’s relentless love overtake and overwhelm you?

*If you are interested to know more of my journey through this, why not check out my book, "Handing Back Control".