We all want to see the power of God move, right. Well, maybe not all of us. But you know who I am talking about. Many of my friends talk to me saying, we want to see God move in our midst. We want people to encounter God in a real way, which raises the question… Then why don’t we see God move more. Or maybe you ask, why doesn’t God move like he once did? I postulate that first, God is moving, and second, we get in the way. One word comes to mind, control.
Coming back from Asia, I find we Americans love this little word, control. We love to have it, be in it, and get more of it. We plan, strategize, think, and develop structures. We find ways to empower people or to empower ourselves. We love to take charge or know who is in charge. As Americans, we do one thing well. We take charge. We don’t wait on others, we go for it. When it comes to the church world, we bring our Americanism right in with us. I wonder if we really think we can put God in a box and control the outcomes. It is as though we think if we plan a meeting well enough, we can see God do incredible things. I am not against planning, but I was recently in a meeting listening to a lot of experienced leaders talking. One leader from Central America said, in the past he remembered the missionaries and pastors praying a lot. Now, he observes them planning a lot. Think about that, we went from praying to planning. Now, we have exported that to the rest of the world. We almost plan so tightly that we squeeze God right out of the picture.
Over the past few years, we have seen worship services expressed with great diversity. As missionaries, we visited a lot of churches while itinerating. Our whirlwind tours through the churches were a real treat as we saw all different sizes and styles. But I will never forget what one pastor told me. Now for context, this church was rather large and had four services on a Sunday—three in the morning and one in the evening. The three morning services were each 65 minutes with only a few minutes wiggle room to let people in and out. I asked the pastor how do they get everything in such a short time. His response captures our American ideal.
He said, one mentor once told him that if God doesn’t move in 90 minutes, he is not going to move. I thought, hmmm, that is an interesting perspective. First, I believe God is always speaking and always wanting to move. The onus is not on him to move, but on us to be ready. We come in with the baggage of stress, tension, family issues, work dilemmas and more. Yet, we blame God for not moving when perhaps we were not ready. But sadly, we think we can create a moment in which God will move. The reality is that God wants to move, we just need to get out of the way. As we served in Thailand, leading Our Home Chapel, we found the best thing we could do is develop an environment in which he could move. We wanted to create space for God to move with a ready heart. We needed to contend and press in to meet God. In no way am I saying that every time we gathered that we met God or felt his presence in power. But neither did we blame him for not moving. It’s just too complex to think we can manufacture an experience with God. Sometimes we have to wait a bit longer than 90 minutes. And that means getting a little antsy as we wait. Let’s be honest, it is tough waiting. But when we get right down to it, God moves on his schedule and not ours. The quick example comes when the disciples waited in the upper room 10 days before they encountered the Holy Spirit in power. If we want to see God move, we need to wait, hunger, and anticipate God doing something in our midst. We need to get out of the way and give him space to move. Space to move in his way and in his timing.
Do you have any examples when you felt God moving in a powerful way? Explain.