Sitting in my study in Wisconsin, I am thinking about all the Lord’s people we have met whose lives are lived ‘out loud’ in really troublesome situations. They insist on such a vibrant life in Christ that their lives shout the message of transformation to their world just by being who they are, and they don’t care who hears them, even though many could get into big trouble by announcing how much they love Jesus! It’s pretty impressive!
Upon returning from a six week ministry trip, I began writing a book on Ecclesiastes, and I had cause to challenged anew, not only by my friends’ lives and witness, but by the ‘Teacher’s’ words concerning the brevity and importance of time on this little swinging planet. The shocking news of the bombings from the UK, Which was so horrific and sad, had greeted us upon our return. It made my writing somehow more urgent, and the material more relevant. This little Old Testament book walks down the stairway of time into a world tired with time, its toys, and its turmoil. It tells me there is a God to know and obey, and in knowing Him, I can know real joy even in a violent world. And it makes me say, “Yes, I want to live my life out loud and unafraid too,” like my friends living in troublesome places!
Life is so brief it appears meaningless; I am reminded by the ‘Teacher.’ Yet it is time enough to come to know God who alone gives us meaning and purpose, and who is the God who can give us joy in the midst of sorrow. So here are three of the things from this favorite piece of Scripture of mine that have helped me. And I trust will help you at this time, so we can all together learn to live our lives ‘out loud’ while yet it is day, ‘for the night cometh when no man can work!’
First, be wise. Wisdom is spiritual intelligence – to be spiritually ‘street smart’ – and, of course, that is impossible to obtain without The Spirit of wisdom Himself. We all need ‘life skills’ in a complicated and heartbreaking world, to have the knowhow to know what to say or do, or what not to say or do! We will need a spiritual perception and intelligence beyond ourselves to deal with relationships that go astray in family, mission or in church. Who doesn’t need the ‘Sword of Solomon’ to broker a peace in society – between warring saints or deal with the beloved but difficult people in our lives?
To live above with saints we love
Oh that will be glory
To live below with saints below
Well that’s another story!
Wise words, however, come out of wise people, and I have discovered as this book teaches, there is no short cut. It takes work to be wise!
So, secondly, Spiritual intelligence takes spiritual industry. I have learned you have to be willing to work at wisdom. It doesn’t come naturally. That’s because it comes spiritually. The teacher of wisdom wearies himself, pondering and correlating his wise words to impart to the next generation, searching it out until he finds ‘just the right words’ that are fitting for the dilemmas that demand a statement of truth and righteousness.
So what is the secret of finding words that will change my world? And where do I get the power and strength to declare them to the next generation? The secret lies in spiritual intimacy – in words given by one Shepherd. Ecclesiastes Chapter 12. And we know who ‘that’ is, don’t we?
Receiving ideas and words, firsthand from one shepherd, that will declare His power to the people who are living the shallow places where everyone lives, are found in ‘The Deep Place Where Nobody Goes,’ as you sit on the steps of your soul, with the ‘Golden Book,’ outside Gods ‘Front Door.’
I have found my life and ministry is only as powerful and rich as the time I spend with God. I must find my way to the ‘waiting room’ a hundred times a day where He is waiting for me to wait! I must learn quietude however much the ‘Busy Grinch’ howls. Strangely, in finding quietude so I can hear His voice, I can begin to live my life out loud. However many good things there are to do, good programs to organize, good meals to cook, good children to manage, good soccer games to attend, good messages to prepare and good people to meet, I must above all work at good intimacy with God, for this is where the power lied. Power to live a life of meaning and power and to declare that power to this troubled generation.
Remember wise words come out of wise people, and there is no short cut. In marriage, ministry, or marketplace, in the university of life and the school of hard knocks, may God grant us Spiritual intelligence gained by Spiritual insistence and industry, stemming out of Spiritual intimacy – with One Shepherd in the deep places where nobody goes. Read the book of Ecclesiastes this week – listen to the Teacher – He had a word for us all.
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