by David Y.
Several years ago I was with a close friend of mine, traveling up north to Victoria B.C. (Canada). We were headed up to see the late, great Christian rock and roller (and religious rebel), Larry Norman. At the time I didn’t have the most reliable car (especially to put it to the test on an 8+ hour road trip), but we hopped in, asked for God’s blessing on our trip, and headed out. (By-the-way, that’s not really us in the picture – hahaha)…
About 60 miles out of town, a loud grinding and scraping sound started in and I felt the tire vibrating. We pulled off the highway and into an auto shop. After the mechanic looked it over, he said, “This is bad news boys… You got a bearing out, amongst other serious problems. I wouldn’t drive this another mile and you’re lookin’ at about a $400 bill at least to have me fix it.” Like a dummy I asked, “Do you think it will hold out until we get to Canada and back?” He laughed and said, “You’re lucky you even got this far!” I didn’t know what to do. We had our hearts set on the trip and I had no money to get the car fixed.
My buddy said, “Let’s just ask the Lord to fix the car and we’ll go from there.” Now, while my faith (which wasn’t really as strong as I’d like to pretend) told me “God can do anything,” my brain said, maybe we should just take it slow and head back home. This was my only car and, though I wanted to go to Canada to see Larry, I knew I couldn’t afford any more problems right now… My friend said, “Well Dave, you know that sometimes there’s a fine line between faith and stupidity… What do you feel the Lord is telling you?” In my heart of hearts I really felt like there was something important about this trip and that we needed to go. So we prayed…
We jumped in the car and headed to Canada! Yup! Stupid right? Well, to my total amazement, as soon as we got in the car and hit the road, the grinding stopped and the wheel vibration smoothed up immediately! We drove all 350 miles to Canada and all 350 miles back without a single problem. In fact, the car ran better than it ever had. No one was more amazed than I. Even better though, not only did we get to see Larry Norman perform, my buddy also had the chance to pray for him back stage as he was suffering from a headache and then, after the concert, we all went out to dinner and hung out. It was fantastic. The Lord also really encouraged me that weekend through some of the things Larry shared from his heart and also just the whole event of having the car fixed by God blew my mind.
The funny thing is though, even as many times as the Lord has demonstrated His love and faithfulness to me over the years, there are plenty of times I still find myself anxious and not really sure if this time will be like the last time God pulled me through. You’d think I’d learn by now, but it seems that this exercise of faith in God continues to be a learning process for me. Perhaps some of you can relate to this.
Well, it seems that this exercise in faith stands before me again. It’s really too early in the game to be able to share a lot of details right now, but it seems the Lord is preparing me (and my wife) for a “change of scenery” (for lack of a better way to put it) in the possibly-near future. Change has never been something that comes too easily for me… But somehow, in reflecting on all the times I’ve struggled just to put away my anxious thoughts and obey God and then watched as He so marvelously opened the doors and provided for my every need, I think I’m finally beginning to learn that when faith calls you out, it’s best to just answer yes! I will be the first to say, that is always way easier said than done!
The truth is though, I’ve found that even when I’ve made some errors along the way as I attempted to follow the voice of the Spirit, God has always kept His hand on me and brought me through. I’m not trying to say that God blesses error… In fact, I know He doesn’t. Despite the fact that God forgives and rescues and heals and restores, there often remains a natural consequence for that error. I’m simply saying that when our hearts are intent upon following Him, He carries us through… even when we make mistakes… and then He teaches us through those experiences. What I’m trying to say is that I have NEVER regretted stepping out in faith to trust God.
I remember when I was a teenager, first deciding to leave “the nest” (so to speak), my dad was proud of me for taking the leap. I had no real idea what I was doing, but it all worked out and dad seemed to be eager to let me flap my wings, even when mom wasn’t too crazy about me leaving home. Where I made mistakes, both dad and mom stepped in to help me out. I really believe God must be that way with us. God must feel great joy when we leap out in faith with the intention of following His will.
I’ve heard it said that you only regret the things you never tried to do in your life. I don’t want to find myself at the end of my life one day, knowing I could have taken a leap of faith, trusting God, but didn’t because I was too afraid of what might happen. I know that it’s in the leaping out that faith sets the environment for God to work miracles on our behalf (sometimes because He is supplying what’s necessary for the task to be accomplished… and sometimes because we need rescuing from our mistakes). And I know that Scripture even teaches that those who are faithful with a little can be trusted with much. The prosperity teachers in religion always equate that to money, but for me the context is simply obedience to the call. Right now I believe I’m hearing a call… I’m preparing to leap and I know God will catch me no matter what.
Beyond this, I have great expectations for the days ahead of me and my wife. And I believe for all of us, if we will not fear the unknown or chain ourselves to the natural, but trust God with our whole lives, I think we will see Him do some amazing things in so many peoples’ lives. My heart is to see people set free from religious bondage and to shed all of this stinky religiosity we’ve all had crammed in our heads since birth (some of us). To find a day where we learn to simply be content as brothers and sisters of God’s family in Jesus Christ is a day worth seeking. The revelation of this possibility is already burning in so many people’s hearts. The organized church mindset thinks it can’t happen without a religious system in place. They often talk about “the church” as being the body of Christ (which is true), but then they also refer to it as an institution and an organization and they cross these terms and concepts together and then guilt people into serving the system by suggesting to them that in doing so they are inadvertently serving the Body. They cannot see them separately and so the religious organization becomes more than simply an organization; it becomes an idol (for they have taken something that man built and given it the title of “Christ’s body”). Despite the fact that Scripture plainly teaches what the body of Christ is, they cannot give up their traditional definitions and so the people in these congregations remain engulfed in the deception.
I recently talked to one pastor about this (a man I regard as my friend). I mentioned this directly to him; the fact that the institution must remain separate from the biblical understanding of Church because, biblically, they are not intertwined. He disagreed with me. So many of these folks who have grown up with this kind of institutional religious thinking really do not wish to think of the two as being completely divided. I told this brother that if believers truly understood that the Lord’s Church is His body (organic, free and spiritually significant all on its own) then they would not look at institutions and organizations in an unhealthy and ungodly manor. They would simply be identified as what they are; social clubs, institutions, organizations, etc. They would understand that attendance to them is optional and has no ability to truly qualify them as born-again believer, or to make them more accepted by God, or any more spiritually mature than someone who is devoted to a relationship with Christ but does not attend them. The problem is, I believe most pastors (despite what they say on the surface), really don’t want people to separate the two in their understanding. I think they fear that if this happens, many people may stop attending, or they may stop “tithing”, or the pastor may lose some level of control, perception of authority, or esteem because of his title and role within that organization. The matter may in fact directly affect his livelihood. I think most pastors would not wish to admit that this reality is a major factor in why they continue to keep the concepts of Church vs. organization intertwined instead of separate.
The very acceptance of the truth in this matter, for them, requires a massive leap of faith! So with all due respect to those brothers and sisters in Jesus who currently find themselves in the position of professional ministry, I appeal to you (with the love of Christ) to put aside anxiety and worry and to believe and preach the truth. Faith indeed calls you out! What will be your response? I know it is not always easy to obey when that conviction of truth hits home. I think we have a natural instinct to rationalize away whatever makes our flesh uncomfortable. But if we will submit our trust to the care of our one Master, Jesus Christ, how can we ever be disappointed? And so this also really comes down to the core of our very belief (and I am speaking these words to encourage and challenge myself as well); WHEN FAITH CALLS US OUT, WHAT IS OUR RESPONSE? If we say we believe in God and we even dare call Jesus Lord, how can we not respond? If we fail to embrace the truth we are convicted by, how can we consider ourselves honest? How can we claim to be followers of Jesus?
Many in the organized churches today look at those of us “outside the walls” of traditional churchianity and typical religious thought and they call us isolationists, separatists, and pipe-dreamers… They have learned to think this way BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN TAUGHT TO THINK THIS WAY! So now what?!! To those who continue to teach the error, I pray you will hear the voice of God’s Spirit speaking to you. And to those of us who have been distrought by the accusations made against us by those who don’t know any better because of the deception they remain under… Stop being anxious about their words and don’t let it overtake your joy in the truth. We know that with God all things – ESPECIALLY THE THINGS HE HAS ORDAINED FOR HIS BODY – are totally possible! I could care less if some pastor thinks my understanding of freedom and my hope to see a day when more believers relate to one another in Christ as they have been called to do (without needing an organization) a pipe dream… I am choosing to believe GOD instead and to step out in faith. I want love to rule my heart and faith my vision. If I stumble, so what. I’ll get up again. If I suffer hardship because the road I chose is difficult, so what… With God I will make it and He will never forsake the child who is reaching out to hold His hand and follow Him!!! This is the truth!!! Count on it!
- Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) – And without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.