God seems to be teaching me that practice is good but we need to get in the game at some point. I think there are times for practice, but if we never get in the game and apply what we have learned, what is the point?
A few posts ago, I shared that I sensed God’s leading to start a wilderness ministry – to get people away from the chaos and busyness of life to grown in intimacy with Him. The wilderness can be the mountains or your own backyard. We just have to stop and get away from the noise to hear God. Well, it was time to stop dreaming, planning, etc… and do something – time to go from practice to getting in the game.
I have really connected with three young men who are all in high school. Two are brothers and one has become like a brother to the other two. Hmmm… maybe like Peter, James, and John… Our three families are very close, attending the same church and participating in the same 4-H club. One of the families we have been friends with for over 15 years and the other family for just a few years. So, I have started meeting with these three young men about once a week. We don’t meet in a classroom, but in different outdoor settings. We have talked about discipleship and have begun talking about growing close to God through spiritual disciplines. Our first meeting was in my backyard around the firepit, the second was at Dillon Nature Center, the third was a service project where we got together to help one of the gentlemen from our church put up a tent at the State Fair for Roundup Ministries, and yesterday we did a prayer ride.
We have a bike and walking trail that begins in one park at the northwest corner of town, follows along a creek and then the Arkansas River to another park at the southern end of town and loops around the second park and then you go back the way you came. It is about 11 miles round trip. There are several places to stop along the way. A couple of the spots are along the river and make for a great place to spend time with God. I have done this several times either alone or with a few others. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day to do this, as it stayed in the 70’s. The topic this week was prayer, specifically the spiritual disciplines of personal worship, intercession, and praying for our own needs.
At the first stop, we talked about worshiping God in everything we do. Worship is way more than the song service on Sunday morning. We can do everything to the glory of God and in a way that worships Him. It is a way of life. We read Psalm 148. God, alone, is worthy of our worship. If our personal worship is where it should be, our corporate worship will be even more powerful and focused where it should be – on God and not what we can get out of it!
At the next stop, I shared a devotion written by Tim Clinton called “The Secret Place.” It was a very timely devotion I had received this week on the topic of prayer and growing in intimacy with God, going to that secret place to pray and spend time with God. At this stop, we had something unique happen that doesn’t happen in a normal classroom (and hence why I love the concept of wilderness or outdoor ministry). One of the brothers said, “Hey look at those turkeys.” The other brother said something like, “You dork those are geese.” (in a very loving, brotherly way, of course). I jumped on the opportunity. Both were right, but their perspectives were different. There was a flock of turkeys to the right and a gaggle of geese off to the left. I told them that this is where a lot of conflict starts in that people don’t take time to see things from the other person’s perspective. Obviously, this wasn’t a big deal and no fights broke out, but it was a great learning experience. We need to take time and stop and ask questions so we can understand where other people are coming from. There are times where we see their perspective and find that they are right. There are other times, where their perspective may be skewed or colored by life events, but at least we can know what their thought process is and can be a little more understanding.
Moving on, we talked about the importance of interceding for others and praying in humility for our own needs. Over half way through the ride at one of the stops, I asked what was missing from our prayer ride. It didn’t take long for one of the guys to say, “us praying.” He hit the nail on the head. We had talked a lot about prayer and praying, but we had not actually prayed together, yet. I had definitely been in prayer for wisdom in discipling these guys, I had asked the guys to spend the first leg of the ride in silence to ask God to prepare their hearts for whatever He wanted to teach them, but we had not prayed as a group. This is when I took the opportunity to talk about the importance of practice with the intent of using what was learned in the game. We go to church, youth group, Bible studies, spend personal time with God in His Word and in prayer, etc… with the intent of taking what we learn and getting in the game. We are called to GO. We had talked a lot about prayer – now it was time to pray, not just now, but being intentional about prayer from now on.
In our society, people are trying to live the adventure through others. Maybe through the television, through video games, through their children, etc… However, we are called to get in the game and make a real difference in this world. We are called to use our gifts and talents for the glory of God. We don’t go to practice just so we can sit on the sidelines and watch the game. It all comes out of an intimate relationship with our Creator. Through that relationship, we grow in our faith, wisdom, and knowledge. God wants us to know Him and make Him known. I began the book of Daniel in my reading this morning. Because of his and his friends’ faith, God made Himself known through them to a king of a powerful nation. None of them swelled up with pride over what they had done, but praised God for what He had done.
It is not my heart in this to someday look back at what I did in these guys’ lives but to see what God did. I just want to help make Him more and more known in their lives that they may GO and out of intimacy with Him, live out the great adventure.
By the way, on a humorous note… in true guy fashion – all birds became turkeys for the remainder of the trip and when I saw them at the 4-H meeting later on, they were all walking a bit bowlegged from the ride. Good Times! 🙂
Peace and blessings to you as we sojourn together!