Funny that when you least expect it something that is said or done does not just cause a ripple but a bit of a tidal wave. On Sunday morning I posted the following status update on Facebook;
So many status updates on a Sunday about life changing meetings, messages and ministries. This event is the most exciting ever. That event will be the best ever. The worship here is better than there. The vision day will give you insight to what we (you) should be doing to change the world. I’m just excited to be walking with the life-changer 24/7. No attendance or performance can connect me more to Him than I am right now. Will be walking and talking with Him while I watch my sons play football today.
The feedback from that has generated so far 83 comments and a debate about ‘going to church’ and being ‘connected’, being ‘accountable’ and ‘not neglecting the gathering together.’ I think I find it surprising because I have posted much more radical things than that status with hardly a flutter so why now? Why such a reaction? The empire seems to be striking back. The other thing is, out of those 83 comments in reply and reaction only once have I written anything and that was early on. It all seems to have taken on a life of it’s own. Plus I did not really make a comment about ‘going to church’ in the first place, it was more a comment on those hyped up Sunday morning status updates that I was fed up reading. I really was just saying. Now you would think I would be letting such things go over my head, after all I am walking in my convictions and know the sense of God with me. So why have I been letting it get to me? Why have I taken this all to heart? Why am I so sensitive? I have always been called to walk on a limb, on the edge, speak out the radical, live the margins. So why did God give me such a timid character?
Intimidation, the empires voice.
How many times in the past have I sung ‘be bold, be strong, for the Lord your God is with you?’ How many times have I quoted ‘He did not give me a spirit of timidity but a spirit of love, power and of sound mind.’ Yet here I am feeling a bit disorientated. The comments and questions can actually come from well meaning friends with a pure motive, but there is something sneaky about intimidation it just seems to creep in there, hanging on a word or a phrase or even a look. Inside I don’t feel the champion I just want to cower back into the shell. Like the Lion in the Wizard of Oz I shout out ‘put ‘em up’, but when someone does put them up I just want to run. I want to hide. The voice seems null and void. The old Paul Leader seems to be there still. The one that used to sit in the back of the class at school and say nothing in-case I said the wrong thing. Fear of getting it wrong. Teachers used to always write in my reports ‘wish Paul would take part more in class discussions’. There are loads of people who do not believe I am naturally a shy, introverted young man. They see the pulpit man, the preacher, the prophetic voice, the writer of bold, controversial statements. They fail to see the little boy inside nervous of the repercussions. I often have a few conversations with God about ‘why me?’ Surely there are plenty of others who could be used that would be so much more certain and forthright in this new landscape? People who could confidently give an answer to any question without feeling intimidated. Yet here I am still standing. Still walking. Still proclaiming. Intimidation really is the empires voice. Taking others words and adding a tone, a sharp point, doubt, fear. It comes to render us inactive. It comes to disqualify our walk and talk. It comes to take away our freedom and wants to reign us in again, to control us.
Evidence of God.
Instead of being a warrior for the Lord I feel a weakling. Where is my shield of faith that extinguishes all the fiery darts of the evil one? And yet when I really look at everything that has gone on with my life it screams of the evidence of God. There is no way I could have done or said any of this without there being a God. I do not seek confrontation, in-fact naturally I would avoid it. The timid man inside loves to go with a flow and be agreeable. Yet there is something that seems to dwell in my life that is a voice. It is there inside me and it spills out every now and again. I am compelled to say and do certain things. I say and do them without thinking. It rises up inside me and seems to burst out onto a page or into a listening ear. There must be a God. He must still be with me out here in this marginalised, questioinable place. The empire may be striking back but there is a sense of the return of the jedi. The force is stronger than evil. Perfect love casts out all timidity, even when I still feel weak. When I ask the question ‘why me’ I am reminded that he chooses the weak things of this world. I may not be always able but I am willing. From somewhere a strength comes. God! At this moment because of the backlash I may feel that I want to keep my mouth shut but I know I will open my mouth and put my foot in it again because He has put a fire inside that intimidation will not kill. Empire wants to kill what it cannot control but the stirring keeps coming. I cannot be silent. Isaiah once said to God in my interpretation, ‘you tricked me into this.’ He was welcomed in with bright lights and heavenly visions, in the place of glory, where he could not refuse to say ‘here am I send me.’ Then the rubber hit the road, no one listened to him, they questioned him as a prophet and he thought to himself, ‘I was conned, I only responded because of all the fireworks and the glory. All I have is this crap day after day. I want to shut up and live a normal life, but there is something inside me that compels me to keep going.’ Isaiah I know exactly how you feel.