Saturday, January 15, 2011

Apart From Him...

Apart from Him I can do nothing.

Of course I can't because He's the vine and I'm the branches, right?  We know the verse.  We've memorized it.  We've even taught it to our friends and family, but what does that mean in real life?  We say it's true because our living bibliography reminds us that it's the Word of God, but do our lives say it's true?  Do our actions and our attitudes stand as a living proof that these words aren't just true in printbut true in person as well?

I'm going to go out on the thickest of limbs here and say that our honest, collective answer would have to be a resounding 'no.'  I mean, take a look at who we are in the beautiful script of the world.  We've long since passed the days of Exodus in which people lived in a perpetual reminder of their desperate need for God by the constant aroma of burning flesh.  We've also progressed past the inch on the time line that would have required us to look Jesus in the too-human face and decide for our own hearts whether or not He was the Living, breathing Son of God.  No longer do we have to fear the ever-changing personalities of the Tudors, never knowing if we'd be hailed for our deep faith in Christ or hanged for it.  We don't even have fight with the earth the way the Pioneers did, calling our Father 'Providence' out of a living knowledge of what happened to families who dared to tame the wild without Him.  Let's face it, friends- we don't live life as though we're desperate for anything.

But if those words are true, aren't we just that?  Aren't we desperate?  Yes.  For sure and for certain, we are  desperate for the Spirit of God.  We are desperate for Jesus to be the theme of everything we do.  We are desperate for God to fill in the gaps we leave in our wake, proving love is more powerful than sin. We are desperate for Him to show up in the midst of the lost, whispering words of redemption in our hearts to share with our loved ones.  Make no mistake, we are a desperate people- we just don't act like it.

We don't act  like it because our world won't let us be desperate and popular at the same time.  In real life, desperate is the enemy of strength and strength is the friend of man.  Culture would much rather us be 'cool' and 'comfy' than desperate.  And we nod our heads in a not-so-silent agreement every time we write a check, discipline a child,  hand out wisdom, teach a class, love a spouse or lead a family without the Spirit, permission and wisdom of the Living God.  We, like Aaron's sons, want  to be involved in what God is doing, but we want to do it our way, on our time, and to a great degree- with our power, even though it leads to a pit.  We plan first and ask for Blessing later.  We teach from the reserves of what God has done, not from the deep well of what He is doing.  We promise prayers that never go up, tell stories of faithfulness that reek of a fishing dock and minister the Word we simply don't have time to read nearly everyday of our lives.  And we wonder why we find ourselves scrambling to tell people what God is doing in our lives, our families and in our churches when the forefathers of our faith couldn't have concealed the Hand of God if they'd tried. 

A simple glance at the first chapter of Acts paints a picture of ordinary men who were desperate for God, praying for his Wisdom, Power and Provision.  What started with a few uneducated prayers ends with a few thousand salvations somewhere between breakfast and dinner.  They were so desperate for God's guidance that they didn't come up from their knees until It came.  And, when He answered their desperation, you can bet that not a single follower felt the need to advertise what was happening in their hearts, in their families, or with their friendships because when the Spirit of the Living God shows up, nobody has to blow their own horns.  Truth begets truth.  Power begets power.  Glory begets glory.  And we, well, we're nothing more than the desperate recipients.

We bring nothing to the table except a willing heart, an open day-planner and an available life.  We can plan and manipulate and create and hope until the cows come home.  We can rely on statistics and strategies and stereotypes until we find ourselves replacing last year's calendar. We can mimic the family next door, the fellowship down the road and the church across the continent until we become their clones.  And we can exhaust every ounce of our time and talent, dragging our lives to the brink of breakthrough and back again until the only word we can honestly use to define our existences is 'tired.'  But, we'll never see what happens when the truth of God defines a family, or what happens when the Spirit of God guides a church through an Exodus, or what it looks like when the lost flock to the found until we live desperate for God's power, provision and permission. 

So, the invitation is this:  Turn the verse around. Say it.  Write it.  Live it.  Pretend, with all your heart, that it's true.  Tell God you can't do anything without Him.  Tell Him that your children are hopeless if He doesn't stand up in your heart and tell you what to say, where to go, what to do, and who to be.  Tell Him that whatever you do Sunday at church, if you're doing it without first marrying your faith and works between the binding of His book, that it's really just character education.  Tell Him that the promises you've made to love your spouse forever are fabrications without His power being alive and working in your heart.  Tell Him that your life will be void of a mission and purpose, that you'll never see souls saved and the saved freed apart from His talent pouring from your hands and His truth pouring from your mouth.

Go ahead.  I dare you.  I dare myself!  Tell God the truth.  Do it again tomorrow.  Try it again the next day.  Life a life that says His Word is true and see if His Word doesn't prove itself true to the nations through your life.  See if He doesn't spend the rest of our desperate lives proving His promises are true!  And then, live to tell about it!


  1. I am more desperate for desperation to be honest. I need the need of God to gnaw at me and make me afraid to go out alone, because as long as he's with me everything is under control (*smirk* control, what I mean is it's all for my good and His glory). I really like to take the credit for things. I'm arrogant in that respect. I like to tell the big stories of how I slid through things, but all those edge-of-your-seat stories about my accomplishments were one thing. That thing is possible. When I want to do any real boasting it should have to go to my Lord. After the Bible study I determined to wake up and acknowledge my desperation to Him, but of course I forgot and went about my morning business. This goes to prove that indeed I have grown used to living my life on my own. Even when I pray to Him feverishly in a crisis, I am formulating plans in my side-thoughts for how to do it myself. I need trust and desperation and Him. The God-margin needs to be crossed. Take my ordinary life and make it extraordinary.

  2. Yes, Mitch. Yes. Agreement. Affirmation. Amen. Everything you said is true in my life, as well.
    I long for the desperation.

    I woke this morning and realized that I'm not sure HOW to be desperate. I have forgotten, if I've ever known it, how to need Him for the things I'm good at. And yet my soul is screaming that on my own, I'll never accomplish my passion.

    Today will be our honest day, Mitch. Today we'll tell Him how far we've allowed our own accolades to take us while we whisper words of desperation to our own souls. He won't leave us here.

    He knows the desperation we've hidden ourselves from. He knows our need for Him. He knows the futility of our lives without His power. And, whether it happens overnight or now, He's calling us ever closer to that line.

    I'm praying for you, my friend!

  3. As an afterthought...

    I was praying and, well...

    We're desperate for God to show us how to be desperate.

  4. Sue this touches where I am right now... desperate for God to do something... but your right, I'm not sure what desperation really looks like. My prayer is for total dependence on God. To be broken and empty for Him in my life in a way I have never been before. I have some BIG battles, I need God to provide a way through... good thing... I know He can.

  5. There is a move of God in Blount County. More people are tuning into the Holy Spirit. People are desperate for more, Church as we know won't fulfil this hunger get ready for for Him, stay ready.

  6. Wow! How do you always have the words (spoken or written) that I need. My very thoughts have been how can we be desperate for God when we plan and provide for ourselves and somehow without knowing push God out of the way.


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