Monday, October 25, 2010

I come to the garden alone~

It sometimes seems to me that we are over-institutionalized. By that, I mean that we don't respect learning, supporting, thinking, growing or goals if they don't exist under a heading and a designated leader. How did we go for hundreds of years being close to God and schooled in his word before the creation of Men's groups and Ladies groups and youth groups and play groups and study groups and life groups and couples groups and and and and....
I am not opposed to organized fellowship and study. My frustration is that I see a great cloud of witnesses all about me who cannot function independent of it. I am not opposed to mentors and guidance, but I think it's a leap in the wrong direction when people call for help and direction without ever pausing with their own Bible and time in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
I know this to be true because I have been called upon to lead someone through a challenge. I don't mind that, I feel honored. But of late I have started to begin those conversations by asking what work the individual has done so far, on their own, to find their answers. By a huge majority the answer is zero. "I don't even know where to start!" Well, cowboy up and figure it out. And I say that with love. If a person has known the Lord for more than a few months, they should be able to start the process of learning and growing to some extent on their own. I am not advocating living in bubble without support and guidance. I am comparing what I see in current culture to a child who is still being carried on their parents' hip when they are 8 years old because they just keeping getting carried and never try to stand. You know where that leads? To handicapped children whose muscles can't hold them.
All of my adult life, I have been in ministry on some level. I have held official positions of leadership and authority and I've given counsel and prayer one on one over coffee. I believe in this. It is Biblical and it is our duty to reach out, around and back to bring others forward in their journeys as we progress in ours. But I am saddened and alarmed at the loss of people sitting in the early morning or late night hours with a Bible in front of them searching and growing and finding God without an official group allegiance or person with a title assigning a study program. I have had a particular method to much of my mentoring over the years, it has been to teach others how to learn. In fact, during our years as youth leaders, every year we devoted several months to Wednesday nights we called "Learning to Learn." The kids would submit topics, prayer requests, questions and together we'd pull out Bibles and concordances and even go online as we searched out God's answers together.
I think we might be in trouble my friends. I see a generation of people who have never learned to learn. And I see an even more offensive trend, a generation of "leaders" who are growing fat and arrogant on the dependence of others seeking their help.
Finally, as that socially independent homebody free-thinker, I am an outcast. I'm fine with that. But still, I am sometimes the object of concern, of desperate pleas to join this or that group to prove my devotion. Yes, it is an invitation extended with love and it is not one usually spoken with judgement. But it is also a fact that my no thank yous are usually met with sadly shaken heads and remonstrations that I am missing out on the greatness of God by seeking him more often than not in empty rooms.
I have learned from those who went before me that without the determination to find God for myself, I cannot really become a Warrior.
Jacob wrestled with the angel and there is no record of the name of his life group.
God called for Samuel and did not allow Eli to be a part of the conversation.
Paul was struck blind and alone with a God who demanded his attention.
Jesus went into the wilderness leaving behind his friends as he faced death.
Don't walk away from organized fellowship if it feeds and encourages you.
But know this with certainty, your relationship with Jehovah God is found between you and him only and you are seeing just a glimpse of the reality of him if you have not yet learned to be alone with him.


Debra said...

Wow, loved it! It really does amaze me how closely you and I think alike. Again, wow. Blessings, Debra

Jada's Gigi said...

This is a powerful post, sister. Too many have no idea of the "how" to finding God on their own. Its a scary situation ...thankful He is in control.