“I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”
In his book Outgrowing the Ingrown Church C. John Miller describes his battle with a debilitating sense of failure which led to his resignation from all of his working as a Pastor and a teacher. He found himself growing tired of all of the strain of the seemingly impossible task of singlehandedly holding the Church together. Like all of us at one time or another he had become burned out by the responsibilities he was facing. Dr. And Mrs. Howard Taylor relate Hudson Taylor’s description of something similar in their book Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. Brought to the end of his own resources Taylor discovered the principle of the “exchanged life,” the looking unto the faithfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Miller describes how he engaged in a period of intense prayer and Bible Study, which gradually lifted him out of a deep depression and into faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the one who is living and active in His Church. It is this principle that I believe that the Lord is calling us, His Church, to relearn today. Our natural tendency is to assume this work as our own. We begin to believe that it all depends upon our skills, wisdom, programs, and methods. To be sure we are called to a life of costly obedience. We must recognise that, in our sin, we will always be tempted to take God’s work and make it our own in the sense that it becomes centred upon, and dependent upon us.
Biblically we see this in Mark’s account of Peter’s denial of the Lord in Mark 14:66-72. When we look at this passage and connect it with Mark 14:54, “Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the High Priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire,” we see something of great significance for our discipleship. Woven into this passage which is describing the humiliation and death of the Son of God for us is a strand that leads us to discover how we receive the blessing that the Lord Jesus Christ purchased for us upon the cross. Peter must die to himself. He must be broken. There is no other way to receive God’s blessing. Peter, in all of his pride, and supposed self sufficiency is in reality standing in the way of God’s blessing. Just like Jacob had to discover in Gen.32:22ff when he wrestled with God at Peniel, so did Peter have to discover. He must die to himself, picking up his cross, and following Jesus if he is ever to experience the life of God in his soul. So too must we die to ourselves. Our weariness, frustration, and anxiety have their roots in our self sufficiency. Like Jacob, Peter, and countless others we must be brought to the place where we die with Jesus. It is in our brokenness that we find His grace. Paul tells the Corinthians in his second letter that God’s word to him was “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Over the next few weeks I will be exploring this theme as a foundation for our building of our ministry in this community. We are called to boast in the Lord. It is He who is actively and powerfully at work among us. The 18th Psalm ends with a triumphant proclamation of this when it states.
“The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior! (Psalm 18:46)