Jan 18, 2006

The Rest Will Follow

Many of you may have already read The Heavenly Man, the story of Brother Yun, a Christian pastor from China. It’s been on my reading list for months. In fact, I borrowed it from friends in Chicago back in July and have been carting it around the States ever since then (thanks, Lakeys! Don’t worry, I’ll get it back to you…). Two of the things the Lord told me my time in Florida was for were rest and intimacy with Him. In pursuit of both of these I’ve spent two days reading Yun’s story. It is worth the time! My spirit is strengthened by this man’s life and testimony. God’s power was evident throughout the book as Yun escaped, or was captured, according to the Lord’s will. This brother doesn’t mince words, however, when talking about the situations that his own sin placed him in. His clear call for believers to OBEY God, rather than figuring things out with our own wisdom and strength, echoes what the Lord has been teaching me over the past few months. My Moody friends have already heard a bit of my thoughts in this area, as I was able to share with them when I was home in December for Christmas. Obedience is better than sacrifice – better than any thing we could conjure up to “give” to the Lord. Obedience is what He requires of us. The question is, where does this obedience find its source? I believe it is in intimacy with Jesus (friendship, love, communication, submission, mutual purpose, etc.) that obedience, at its heart, is birthed. We can all follow the law, do what we’re told, and be “obedient” in the wooden, even resistant, way prisoners obey their guards or employees obey their bosses. But God is not looking for fear-based or reward-based obedience. He asks for love-based obedience. He is – prepare to be shocked – going to develop a heart of obedience in us. One that leaps to hear His words, and rejoices at the chance to carry them out. This heart, once developed, will show itself in action, but the action is the result and not the starting point. There were several times in Yun’s life that he was captured and put in prison as a result of ignoring God’s directions and warnings. Each time he saw that he had lost his first love, his intimacy with Jesus, and had put doing God’s work above being in relationship with the Lord. His months in prison became precious times to rest and restore the intimacy of his relationship with Jesus. I’ve loved this scripture for a long time:

I Corinthians 13:1-3 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

< style="font-family: georgia; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">These are all things I desire. Can you imagine walking in their fullness? Prophecy, words of knowledge, faith, generosity, even laying down our lives… yet love is the only source that makes these all worthwhile.

I want to obey out of a heart that loves to hear and follow my Lord’s voice. As I read Yun’s story I became jealous in the best sense of the word. I want to hear God’s voice as clearly, and follow him as fully, as that brother has. I want to be used as effectively, if such a thing is possible. But it was good, at the end of the book, to be brought back to the basic foundation. What I really, really, really want is to be in an intimate relationship with Jesus. The rest will follow.


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