At the Fork In the Road (#445)

Brad is back in the house celebrating with Wayne the completion of his newest book, Finding Church: What If There Really Is Something More? They talk about the people they know who are standing at the crossroads of whether or not they can abandon their human efforts for God and get on a better journey of learning to live in the work he does. Many avoid the road less traveled because it looks like a cliff, but it's a choice that can't seem to be made slowly. Either we're all in on the journey of love and transformation, or we'll stay stuck either in the futility of our own efforts or the frustration of unfulfilled promise. How can we take a chance on a road that offers no guarantees?

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  1. Something you said in this podcast got me to thinking about Jesus on the road to Emmaus walking alongside those two men and how they were eventually drawn to him. When they got to the village he made as if he was going on, but they constrained them and he stayed with them. He had no desire to manage them! He didn’t try to control the outcome. Their transformation came from within (Did not our hearts burn within us?)
    The more I see this journey the more I get that there is such great peace in not trying to control outcomes (always was a tough choice for me) and with that the discovery of actually seeing the greatness of the relationship with God which is so beyond management! It is genuine peace. Love it! Thanks!
    ‘To be continued’ is a great last chapter of a book! Says a lot.

  2. Wonderful observation, Ginny. Thanks, Wayne and Brad, for sharing your great conversation with us. It brought back many memories of when I made the jump. I am incredibly grateful for how God has led.

    I was not pushed off the apparent cliff, but In July of 1993, I jumped and left the full-time “pastorate” after 10 years with the same small town congregation. The people there treated us well and things were coasting along fine outwardly. For me, though, I became more and more restless with the role I was trying to fulfill. The “better” I did (and I was probably average), the more everything depended on me. I knew there was something not right about that.

    The only reason to stay was the paycheck. I sensed God reminding me that it was really Him and not the “church” board that was supporting me, my wife, and four small children. He seemed to be saying that He could support me through other means. With the agreement of my wonderful wife, I resigned and we moved to another town 30 minutes away where I also had a very part-time job as hospice chaplain. A few months later, a door was opened for a whole new vocation which eventually became full-time. It has worked out very well to this day, even though there have been some difficult times.

    It is amazing to me to look back and see how God has led me along this journey. It has not always been easy, but it has definitely been worth it. Thanks, Wayne and Brad, for how you have given words to so much of what Jesus has been speaking to my heart through the years. He is faithful.

  3. Thanks Jeff. You said exactly what I wanted to say about these podcasts -“Thanks, Wayne and Brad, for how you have given words to” what is going on inside our hearts.

  4. To hear Brad on the podcast, and that the new book was done, both came as welcome surprises. I’m one of those who have listened to just about all of the 445 episodes, many nights I fall asleep to them. You should think about putting a ‘God Journey’ channel on LIVE365 or something, just let them play at random 24/7, I think many people would appreciate them.

    To the topic at hand, two things that prevent me from making a change: fear, and I don’t trust God. In a prior podcast Brad brought up the game show ‘Let’s Make A Deal’, where a contestant often has to make the decision whether or not to give up the known for the unknown, for either something good, or something not so good. It is as almost as if in my own life, God is a celestial Monty Hall, who may have the equilvalent of a brand new car waiting for me, but just as possible, a zonk. I’d rather keep the certain little I have, thank you, the odds of winning the Big Deal are next to impossible.

  5. Ron I love your honesty !
    When I read your post my heart went out to you. I have lived much of my life viewing God in the same way you describe. As much as I tried to make that “all in” step of faith or as Brad calls it “Jumping off the cliff” . I was with you…. I did not trust Him!! As much as people told me how great it was walking on the “glass bridge ” as Wayne puts it… I could not make that step, I would even try sometimes. After years of frustration one Day I came to a place in my life That I thought to my self Could it be the reason I don’t Trust Him is that I realy don’t Know Him? Could it be That all my ideas of who He is is not Him at all? So still not trusting Him I only threw My expectations and Ideas of who he might be off the cliff! Still standing at the edge I prayed a very simple prayer….” I want to know who you realy are… I will not take any Mans word for it .. I have got to know for my self How ever long it takes Reveal yourself to me”. While I was at it I threw all religous obligation and ritual over the edge as well! And just waited on Him…..
    For me it took 2 years in this place of Him revealing Himself to me Till finaly I saw enough of Who He Was That I could not Help But Fall into His arms ! This falling in Love as I like to put it was the easiest safest Thing I have done in my journey! After seeing Who He is and knowing that for myself self it comes so naturally I didn’t even see it coming.
    So take courage my friend Your mistrust of Him is understandable But He can Handle that as well. Could it be That If We let Him He will build a Glass bridge of trust simply by revealing Who He is to us?

  6. Thanks once again for this e-conversation. I have found much of these words resonating within my own heart. Harvey thank you for your words and the beauty of your simplicity. My “take away” is that rather than viewing my fear/lack of trust through the lens of “ok gotta’ try harder”…rather to see how He takes the initiative. The reason this continues to be simple but yet so difficult is we cannot get off of the treadmill through our own power or “smarts”. I am so thankful that when I express my longing for deep relationship to Him, His response is overwhelmingly tender and expressing how He longs for this also. I continue to go back and back and back to Him…persistence is also a theme through Scripture…Jesus and the parable of “The unjust Judge”…and other places.

  7. Harvey, thanks for your response, and the encouragement.

    I guess I need it explained to me what the Bible verse ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’ means, because everytime I even just think about taking a leap of faith, that is exactly what I am doing, putting Him to the test. And if I fail, what does that show others about the God that I follow? It is almost as if I have been put in charge of His reputation. All the naysayers saying, ‘See, I told you so, you can’t trust God, you have to make it on your own in this world, at any and all cost.’ Seems that way.

  8. Harvey, I was really moved by your words.I can just picture you standing at the cliff dragging and pushing, and throwing all this stuff over. It’s a great picture.

    I have mixed thoughts about the concept of stepping off the cliff. Probably in the same way that Brad and Wayne were disagreeing about it. Is it a step of faith? I almost stepped off the cliff and destroyed my life 15 years ago. I was so at the end of my rope with little hope and God was powerless to change me because I was so bad (or so I thought). My letting go was not really a decision, it was like I had no other choice. I was at the end. It was inevitable. As I prepared to go over the edge, I turned one more time to see if maybe God could offer any last minute hope. And right then He showed me a way of escape and pulled me back from the edge. Or maybe He showed the first step across. All I know is that it was all God. There was little to no faith, I did not feel any faith on my part. Can looking back to check to see if anyone will rescue you before you jump called faith? Well that would be the extent of what my faith was at the time.

    All I know now is that God meets us where we are at, in the way that we can understand, and in a way that we can respond. I think my cliff was the end of myself – a place sufficient enough to finally have God break through, the place where the great big “I” was worn down and could no longer cope. I think that would be a common factor in coming to a place of unmanaged and non-administrated transformation (as Brad put it).

    I find myself sitting here overwhelmed once again with thankfulness for His love and kindness to me. Understanding His love is still so beyond me – I am getting to know who He is and I love being with Him. But there is something so beyond human thinking in “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”. I guess that’s the wonder of it all.

  9. Hi Ron

    The verse I believe you are referring to is Deuteronomy 6:16 and refers to an incident in Exodus 17:7. I am not sure that this is about taking a leap of faith, but rather being argumentative with God.

    I would be cautious with OT examples for a people under old covenant, when we are a people under the New Covenant. God has reconciled the world to himself and we as believers in Christ live in Christ and therefore his righteousness, obedience and faithfulness is now ours. So I am not sure that we can in Christ put God to the test. When God looks at us he sees Christ.

    I am examining of late the difference between the old and new covenants. In the OT and the old covenant the fruit of obedience was righteousness (which is unattainable). In the new covenant we are made righteous by God through Jesus Christ and the fruit of this provided righteousness is obedience (over time as we embrace the truth of who we are in Christ). It is the fruit of the Spirit and not of our own doing). Our focus is to behold the Lamb, the work of the cross, and to embrace the forgiveness of sins and the Father’s affection.

    I am reminded of the prodigal son. I think he severely test his father, but the father gave the inheritance anyway and waited patiently on the porch for his son to return. When the son returned, there was no mention of the sin by the father, but a full embrace and celebration of the return.

    As to the part about representing God, I think we as humans do a crappy job all around so I think we fail no matter what in trying to defend God’s reputation. That sounds like a clever disguise for living by the law. Anything that you do that is going to reflect God glory is going to be as a result of the fruit of the Spirit and not self effort. So our focus is to sit at the feet of Jesus, and in doing so we begin to reflect him to the world. We do not have to prove anything to the world. God’s big enough to take care of himself.

    Anyway those are my thoughts.

  10. I like the thoughts here about God doing in his in his own time what it means for any of us to take the fork in the road that leads us away from our religious views of him and begins the process of unwinding our religious ways and coming to know him. It feels like a cliff to some, I get that. But it isn’t a flying leap in the dark, it’s a response to his nudge in our heart, or as some have shared the only road left, even though it is one we’d rather not take. Unless he is nudging it is only presumption to make some big decision hanging all on God to prove himself. I have as many stories of that NOT working as those of it working. As best you know follow your heart as to what he is revealing. He can make up for our mistakes, but always be willing to embrace the consequences if you are wrong. In other words don’t make an outlandish decision from which there is no way back if you are wrong. We see through a glass darkly, remember, so none of us are 100% sure at any point.

    I don’t think anything Brad and I were talking about would encourage someone to risk life and family defying God to prove himself. That can lead to disaster. Let him draw you in with his love and give you the courage to make any difficult decision that seems to be in your path. This is a learning experience and he knows that. Don’t go flying off the high dive, until you’ve practiced a bit on the low dive first. 😉

  11. You are Most welcome Ron . I guess I see it more as tasting of Him rather than testing Him. though I have done both and am still alive. Lol I think He enjoys what we see as a chalenge for him to perform in us . He is Big enough to even handle our anger towards Him or who we think He is….

    Sue: I love His tender response to you!! This is The Father I am coming to know… So many times I have sensed the same things From Him . Loved the way you put it!

    John : I can relate very well to your story I can not get over how each story is different yet have the same core components in one way or the other! Could it be there is one common denominator in all of our stories? 🙂

  12. Thanks for your insight Wayne, as always. God help me if I ever have or will ever misinterpret what you and/or Brad have said. On this theme, I once heard a story from a Bible teacher about a man who came to him and said, ‘because of what you taught last week, I decided to quit my job.’ The teacher, a bit astounded, asked him if the man had anything else lined up, to which he replied, ‘God will find me another job.’ The teacher went on to ask, ‘You don’t have a resume made, interviews lined up, anything?’ To which the man again replied, ‘If God wants me to work, He will give me another job.’ The story ended there.

    About 20 years ago, I made a leap of faith and a several-thousand mile move, my future ‘$900 and a dream’ sermon, if I ever was to become a famous pastor. Well, two months later, I came back with my tail between my legs. It was an issue of not having enough time and/or money to sustain myself. I eventually gave up my grandiose ideas of what I thought God was like and put my nose to the grindstone, and began to make something of myself. I sensed God was more proud of me in my resourcefulness, than His. Why some of us see hard work as a bad thing, a curse, is beyond me. But taken to the extreme, it could be. As I recall Wayne, you have said working too much, too hard, is something you have never had a problem with. And is something I aspire to as well.

  13. Thanks to all for this e-conversation. Once again so many thoughts…and much resonating so deeply within my heart. Initially when Father began to show me some of His heart (tender rather than angry; gentle with me rather than “Do it MY way and do it NOW!!!”) I felt so impatient. My thoughts went something like “Ok I’ve got to up and leave the Sunday group right now; this person certainly doesn’t see what I see” and so much frustration/anger mixed with what I was learning. Four years in and I suddenly realized “I’m not angry with them anymore. I see where they’re missing some things…have got other things understood”. I saw that as I leaned hard into Father, to hear Jesus’ voice and followed that through all of the other “screaming voices” in my head….it’s me that’s slowly being transformed in the way I see others. I sense much encouragement as I hear through these “threads” of conversation that this sense of hurry most often is not from Him. That our walking with Him is a very gentle working out of learning to hear His voice and growing trust that as we make mistakes He’ll also navigate us through and not “dismiss” us. Powerful!!!!

  14. Ron, you must have misunderstood something I said. In this season of my life I don’t have a tendency to push my own boundaries in destructive ways, but back in the day I was a workaholic, trying to earn God’s favor by my own sweat. No, it wasn’t good, for me or the kingdom. But I’ve always been a hard-working. Growing up on that vineyard probably set a course for me! I still work hard today for the time it deserves, and then I can walk away and not think more effort from Wayne will make the difference. My struggle has always been working too hard, not being laissez-faire. When God first called me to this part of the journey where I simply did what he asked and trusted him to provide, I felt horribly irresponsible for a couple of years. I wasn’t doing things based on economic return, and that “don’t work, don’t eat,” ethos my dad drilled into me would rear its ugly head frequently. I was working, it just wasn’t necessarily for a fixed financial return. Finding the freedom to do so was quite a journey. It’s strange. I never wanted to live this way and God invited me into it. Others I know who WANT to live this way and have quit jobs and everything hopeful that God would provide, ended up losing houses and in some cases wives because it didn’t pay the bills. My deal with Sara was always that the first time we had to put a house payment on a credit card, or I couldn’t pay it off at the end of the month, that I would find something else. But during that time I was doing what God wanted as best I knew even if that meant taking an odd job now and then. He was the provider, I was the follower. It’s been quite a journey for sure!

  15. Wayne I stand corrected. My apologies. Probably should have said today, instead of never? In no way in saying that I wanted to put you in a negative light for sure. What I thought was a recollection was more of a perception. I do appreciate the explanation.

  16. The rich young ruler comes to mind when I think about some of these things. That particular record used to tie me in a knot because of me, myself and I. Where is trust in that? I see that record a bit more clearly now through the love lens. It is interesting that the commandments Jesus brought up in that account were the ones dealing with loving one’s neighbor. It is all part of the love cycle. We love God because He first loved us. Then we love our neighbor as we love ourselves and loving originates from God! Tied into all that is His love is shed abroad in our hearts. We are all unique and have unique ‘nudgings'(love that word) by which God works in us to love others as we have been loved.

  17. Love that Ginny: It seems some of what is being talked about it actualy invisible outside of the love lens as you put it.
    As I was driving his morning and asking Father what are you giving Me today eventually it seemed He was Saying again….. I just want to love on you a while . Could it be that the greatest accomplishment we can Attain is simply to receive what He is Giving today and is there a greater gift than His love? Could it be that all this untwisting He is doing in our broken lives is simply a work to bring us to a place of healing so that we can receive more of His Love For us?
    Sorry if I repeat myself too much but this love story between Father and Son and a fallen human race That they are Loving back into relationship with them Just does me in!!! It is this Simple… Let…. Just Let Them love you . Everything else Comes without having to figure it out.

  18. Hey Harvey, I laughed a bit when you talked about repeating yourself… But I really like how you said ‘just let them love you’. I ended up going to sleep last night [in Australia time] thinking about that.

  19. Congratulations on completing the book. My wife is currently proofreading a book for a major publishing house that is coming out this fall. It’s also a take on disillusionment with “church” and looking at what this church thing is really about, but it seems like its all about replacing that one mousetrap with another one. She reads me quotes occasionally as she goes through it and we roll our eyes.

  20. Thanks for a “reminder” conversation, Wayne and Brad! It helped me think about the Journey God has put me on and all the twists and turns that accompanied it all of which was about building my trust in him. Some moments of the journey were “leaps of faith.” Some were quiet nudges. Other parts were a regular nagging at my heart and a quiet voice saying, “Do you trust me?” That last one came as a call to leave the bi-vocational pastorate I was in. For 18 months I argued with the Holy Spirit, “But you put me into this thing (the formal ministry) when I didn’t want to go!” His response was always, “And now I want you to leave. Do you trust me?” That decision wasn’t really a leap of faith as much as it was a, “I trust you” moment. Over the years my wife Kim and I had already experienced a calm trusting in other situations: Losing my sister in 9/11, Kim being laid off….. twice, moving to an area we felt led to go to with only $150 in our pockets and two kids to feed, turning down offers of positions I had always wanted because we didn’t sense the Spirit was leading us to take them. We still have our struggles of confidence, and we still get nervous from time to time. Things can get really tough. But we always remember his faithfulness when we are not so faithful. So thanks for the memories and for the encouragement.

  21. I’m in that 2-year (3-year?!) period. Yuk! :p

    Thanks again Wayne & Brad!!

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