The Solid Rock

Twelve years ago this week I sat at the International Wesleyan Youth Conference in Charlotte, NC with my rear end firmly planted in my seat and my feet rooted to the ground beneath my chair, holding on for dear life as a torrent of teens flooded past on their way to the front to answer a call to be ministers. I was determined not to be swept away in that flood. I wasn’t going to be a pastor.

If I remember right, the call that day was not just for those of us who felt called to full time ministry, but for everyone who would commit to being ministers in whatever career they ended up in. But I didn’t budge. I couldn’t. I knew it wouldn’t work to bargain with God, to go forward and tell him I’d be a minister in some other field. I knew what he wanted from me, and I knew that if I gave an inch he’d have a mile. And so I sat like a rock in a stream.

The waters receded, and I went home from Charlotte. I thought I had survived, thought that my rock would hold, buried deep in my stubbornness and fear. And hold it did, for the next three years, but God never stopped calling. He relentlessly plunged my rock beneath the flood of his will until finally all my arguments eroded and I was launched into the flood at last.

I’ve been lost in the flood ever since, often floundering, often half-scared out of my wits, but slowly learning that the God who called me won’t let me drown. Even when I’m lost in the flood of his will, he is my Solid Rock in the flood. As the old song says, “His oath, his covenant, his blood / Support me in the whelming flood / When all around my soul gives way / He then is all my hope and stay.”

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I’ve never depended on God more than I have as a pastor. It has taught me my need for a Solid Rock, but even more it has created in me a longing for that Rock. I have seen more clearly than ever the sinking sand around me and the sinking sand within me. Today the sand scares me more than the flood, because God is not in the sand. He is in the flood, and so I lash myself to the Rock in the flood.

I don’t know how many of those teens in Charlotte are pastors today. I don’t know how many of them are ministers in other capacities, as teachers or counselors or parents or business owners. All I know is that one who said ‘No!’ to God that day has since said ‘Yes!’ a thousand times over. I’m so glad I did. I’m so glad that God didn’t listen to my answer, but that he got the final word.

This week, twelve years after I sat and said I wouldn’t be a pastor (and especially not a youth pastor), I returned to the same conference, this time in Indianapolis instead of Charlotte, this time as a pastor to teens (among other people) instead of a teen trying not to be a pastor. And it was good, because it was God’s will, and his will is so very good.

I share this to let you know that it’s never too late to say ‘Yes’ to God, whatever it is that he is calling you to do. It’s never too late to make him your Solid Rock.  And it’s worth it.  The Rock is worth it.

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6 responses to “The Solid Rock

  1. Thank you for this insightful testimony! I can greatly relate, as I’ve lived (and am still living at times) a stubborn life in hopes of MY ideas working out. I’m learning more and more though of how much I’m depending on that Solid Rock, and how much He is in turn teaching me. I think I am sort of like a scale of 100 divided between two factors, God and me. The more He teaches and shows me, the more His percentage increases; though when I hold tight to my ideas and hopes, it can’t increase any more and my percentage wants to take ground (Sorry if that analogy doesn’t make clear sense). I think John the Baptist said it best in John 3:30 when he stated, “He must become greater, I must become less.”

    Keep holding to the Rock! I know that there’s going to be storms and the sand’s going to seem to be coming out of nowhere, almost overwhelming sometimes, but thankfully the flood washes away the sand, and we have a Solid Rock that doesn’t budge. One we can truly, whole-heartedly follow 100%.

      • Thanks!

        I have a question for you though: Do you think it’s harder for some people to fully surrender? I know Jesus told His disciples that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven as one example, but putting riches and ego aside, do you think it’s just naturally harder for some people to surrender everything than others? I don’t know what “everything” would be when you take riches and like temptations out of the equation, but I did wonder that and thought you might have an idea or opinion on it.

      • Great question… I do think it is harder for some people to fully surrender than it is for others. Obviously, in a super-affluent society like America, I think we all have obstacles that keep us from surrendering to God that people wouldn’t have had a couple hundred years ago, simply because we are so self-sufficient and don’t feel like we even need God most of the time. But beyond that, it seems like our personalities can play a big part in this. Some people seem much more capable of connecting to the Spiritual than others. I think that the more independent we are by nature, the harder it is going to be for us to surrender our entirety to God. But the same goes for being spiritually lazy. And this is the part that is so difficult for me to figure out. It seems like surrender of my life to God requires me to be totally dependent on him, yet at the same time put a lot of effort into disciplines and prayer that will connect me to him. I think most of us lose ourselves on one side or the other. We either work hard and fail to be dependent on him, or we try to wait for him to change us and never put in the effort. It’s hard to walk the line in the middle.

  2. Thank you so much for your insightful answer! It’s definitely kept my mind stirring the last couple days… which, has led me to another question (last one, I promise).

    The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized I AM a more independent person, and that is probably why I have a hard time sometimes fully surrendering and throwing all my ideas out the window. I also am the one who spends all my energy into disciplines and works. Thus failing in being dependent on Him and coming up with ways to glorify Him, when I need Him to show me where I need to be. This is where I get stuck. What is it then, to walk that line in the middle? To be dependent on God, and yet also active and hardworking on becoming the perfect person He wants us to be? For some reason I just have a hard time imagining that line in the middle, thinking that you need works to make a faith grow, and yet you’re supposed to be also dependent on God, listening calmly with ears, eyes and heart open.

    • You’re right, it is hard. And I’m not sure that I really have any practical advice. I do know that one thing that has helped me a whole lot is John 15, where Jesus tells us over and over to abide in him. I really think that the answer to all of our struggles to surrender is found in that one word, ‘abide’. If we can learn to abide, to simply be with Jesus, we will have learned to surrender.

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