Sunday, May 16, 2010
Ships that pass in the night and speak to each other in passing;
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak to one another,
Only a look and a voice; then darkness again and a silence.
- Tales of a Wayside Inn (Longfellow)
'We've never BEEN there with each other'
We’re utilitarian. We want God for what we can obtain from Him that we might do it and teach it and be seen teaching and enjoy the kind of exhilaration of serving God. He’s only an expediency to provide us with that which is needful. But knowing our hearts and loving us and being the God who sees that utilitarianism is the spirit of the world and not the spirit of the Kingdom, He says, “Come up unto me – and BE there.”
An apostle must, above all men, know this in his experience. Because the apostle and the prophet are the foundation of the church. There is no true church except by the foundation laid by the apostles and the prophets. Not only in their teaching and what they impart in the sublime knowledge of God and His ways but what they convey and communicate and exude from what they have obtained in His presence – because they have come up and they have been there!
You know, guys? This is how we’re failing each other?
That’s why guys like me have had to go eighteen years of too frequent harshness at home – because we are so shallow in our own relationships with “brothers” that I could not find a friend who would love me at all times. We’ve never BEEN there with each other.
And, even while we’re talking to each other our minds are racing to some next thing. Or, what awaits us on Sunday? Or this commitment and that responsibility… Or did I forget this or that…Do we ever really give our whole attention to each other? That’s fellowship of the kind that God intended.
The mystery of the fellowship.
That mystery is so little known to us. Our fellowship is so much less. Back slap; brusque bear hug.
Ships passing in the night.
The briefest kind of acknowledgement.
And, I praise God that we are canceling our convocations this summer. We’re not going to have any schedule of meetings, with the thousands pressing in, and this whole weary mechanic of things that need to be served. But, as many who will come who are sent in God’s own time, when He has bidden them come up by the Spirit.
“Aw, c’mon, Art. You’re getting melodramatic now. You’re just talking about ‘summer vacations’- aren’t you?”
What do you mean “just”? What are you trying to imply? That a summer vacation is some kind of ordinary excursion?...
How dare you bring that ordinary, the earthly mentality into the holy place?
What do you mean “just” a vacation? The word “just” ought to be abolished from our speech.
How dare we presume to go anywhere, or to do anything except that we be bidden…
Woe unto us if we dare to presume so upon God.
- Dallas, Texas (1982)
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