Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Transformational Experience

This is the inventory of the tabernacle, the tabernacle of the testimony, which was counted by the order of Moses, being the work of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar, son of Aaron the priest. (Ex. 38:21)

In my quiet time I can be a "model Christian" (whatever that is) - meaning that I can have the theology right and the desire to practice it. But in the nitty-gritty of life, "where the rubber meets the road", I falter ... often before getting out the door. I used to wonder why God didn't change me sitting there in my prayer room. Now I know that isn't His way.

I'm in the midst of an interesting journey in my quiet time. A few months ago, after I completed a Bible read-through, I was praying about how to proceed in my quiet time and sensed the Lord prompting me to pursue an "application- and prayer-centered" read-through. Never one to miss pointing out the obvious to the Lord :) I mentioned to Him that in some sections that would be rather challenging. The portion I'm in was one of those I had in mind. I knew that there was a lot of rich typology and some doctrine to be gleaned, but I was concerned that there would be little application and not much to pray over. Little did I know!

I'm blessed to be using the NET Bible for this read-through (you can see it online at www.nextbibleorg). This is a "translators" version which gives alternative renderings and discussions of the choice of Hebrew or Greek texts and translations. It basically affords miniature word studies, often on words I would never think to look up. Today's reading was one of those, and I was so blessed that I just have to share it with you!

The word translated "inventory" is the Hebrew pyqued. It comes from the root meaning "visitation" and refers to "numbering" and "appointing". But the translator's notes gleaned something that has had me thinking all day long:

By using this Hebrew word there is also the indication that whatever was given, i.e., appointed for the tabernacle, was changed forever in its use.

Changed forever in its use. Whatever is given for God's purposes is changed forever in its use. In other words, change happens best in service. Ministry will also be a transformational experience. We often think we are changed in order to serve ... but God's Word lays down the principle that we are changed by serving.

That's not a big surprise to many of you. I've heard most of you tell me that the biggest change on the field happens in the heart of the one who goes. And it's the same here. When we truly give ourselves to serve - seriously looking for opportunities to bless; taking the jobs that no one else desires; scorning what C.S. Lewis called "The Inner Circle" in favor of that place on the fringe where we go unrecognized - then something amazing happens. We are transformed.

That change which I seek to have imparted to me supernaturally doesn't come so easily. Instead, what is imparted is the Holy Spirit - and with Him all I need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). I become a new creation with a new heart. And then God calls me to cooperate with Him on a daily basis to live into reality what He has put within me. To make theology meet reality. And the medium through which He works this transformation is service.

All the gifts of the Spirit are for the building up of the body (1 Cor. 12). We know that - and yet we don't always get that it's not just those we serve who are built up. Sometimes we need the most work of anyone in the group. It's easy to forget that God doesn't use us because of our spirituality and maturity, but in spite of ourselves! And that's how we know the power is of God and not ourselves. I can sit here and tell you my strengths and I know God gave them to me. But it's when He works through my weaknesses - when He calls me to serve in an area where I know I'm desperate for Him - that I know HE did it and not me. And I stand in awe of Him.

Changed forever in its use. Sometimes our struggles in ministry are designed to change us. Surrender your challenges to God today and let Him change you forever through service.

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. (2 Cor. 4:7)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of your fans, thought that that
was fantastic!