A Word in Season
Read James 4:13-16 two or three times out loud (if possible).
If you work in any sort of organization, you probably attend meetings. Some of them produce energy, some of them result in a brand of lethargy that threatens to bring the whole endeavor to a grinding halt. I recently attended a meeting in which our leader painted a beautiful picture of “the big plan” to which all of us in the room were dedicated. As we listened, we caught a vision, and gained a clearer understanding of our unique role in seeing that vision become a reality. I left the meeting animated, anxious to get started on my action items. This is the vision that played itself out when I read James chapter 4. Pastor James is inviting his readers to orient themselves to their Master, Jesus. He chastises them for planning their lives, setting that 1 year goal, 5 year goal and so on, without regard for the Master’s wishes. This is kind of like walking into the boardroom for a meeting with your superiors, and sitting at the head of the table, ready to give orders. You would not have the audacity to do this.
Why is it that we so often enter into prayer this way? We take the seat at the head of the table when we say, “Dear God.” We note that everyone is present, “Thanks for coming Father, Son and Spirit. Here is your agenda for the day…” and then we begin to dictate what we want God to do on our behalf. We usually have a list of grievances, or things that are not going our way, and we tell God how we think he should fix them. If God would only follow orders, My Will would be done, and My Kingdom would come. When we hear ourselves praying this way, we need someone, like James, to grab us by the shoulders and give us a good shake. “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
Let’s get this straight. When we pray, the first thing we must remember is that we did not call the meeting. When we bow our heads and say, “Dear God,” we are responding, not initiating a conversation with our creator. When we arrive at the table of prayer with the Master, the Sovereign, we do not set the agenda. We come with a blank steno pad, ready to take note of our “action items.” My posture should say, “What can I do? How can I serve? What is my unique contribution to the great enterprise of Your Kingdom?” James says it this way, “Submit yourselves then, to God…Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…” As long as I’m at the head of the table, acting as though my whisp of a life is really The Main Agenda, I will miss out on God’s Great and Sweeping Plan. Once I resume my proper place at the table, I orient myself within God’s Kingdom. Only then can I hope to accomplish anything of eternal value.
Spiritual Exercise for week of February 9, 2014
Take a few minutes to consider your unique gifts and talents. If you had a “title” within the Kingdom of God, what might it be? Are you a mom, or a dad? These are key roles. Are you a mentor, or teacher? Are you support staff, loving life in the background, offering assistance to others and making “outsiders” feel welcome in the Kingdom? If King Jesus led a meeting, painting a picture of his Kingdom, where do you think you might fit into the landscape? Jot down some “action items” you might leave that meeting with. Ask God for the discernment and the energy to dedicate the hours of this day to doing them with excellence.