It was 6:30 AM on the 31st of March, 2011 and I was minding my own business and spending time with Jesus at my desk. I was crying out to Him in both the agony of our present reality and the exhilarating possibilities of what could be. I was sitting smack dab in the middle of the Divine Tension. I wanted to see a movement of the gospel but I was certain it wouldn’t happen without a miracle from God. So I was praying. And then the Still Small Voice spoke with unmistakable clarity. “Are you willing to follow Me down this road?” I immediately said “YES!” But the next part of the message was a warning. “It will cost you everything. Your reputation, your position, your ministry, your finances, even some of your closest friends and family. Are you willing to follow Me down this road?” And I said “YES.”
Now before you start putting me on the pedestal of spiritual heroism, think about two other knuckleheads that said “Yes” to Jesus.
But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink, and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. (Mark 10.38-39)
Jesus told them they didn’t have a clue and neither did I. I’m pretty sure, like the disciples, I had visions of grandeur, leading a movement of God to conquer the earth. “Oh yeah, let’s get this party started!”
I thought I was in a storm before, please. I was in the kiddie pool getting a little water splashed in my face and crying to my mommy (well, my Daddy). And now here I was signing up for a small boat in a Class 5 Hurricane. And it happened. I had to stop talking about aggressive evangelism, multiplying disciples faster, and planting churches with folks I had been in ministry with for 30 years because it was so divisive. I was rocking the boat so much I resigned and completely left our legacy organization (which cut our finances by one third). We started receiving “friendly fire” from all directions, even from many people I didn’t know (and didn’t know me). I was trying things in ministry that were kind of working but certainly not of the “movement clip” I longed to see. I was being confronted with truths from the Scriptures that I had missed and feeling ashamed and repentant. I started losing the function of my legs and hands and I was misdiagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which would later be diagnosed as a slow form Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). I could go on but it will start sounding like an organ recital: “Oh my lungs, Oh my kidneys, Oh my heart, etc…” It was by far the most painful time of my life (and I’ve been through some pretty tough stuff). But Jesus was with me the whole time. Some times I felt like He was taking a nap in the back of the boat but He was always there with me in the middle of the storm.
One of the stupidest things I think the disciples ever said (and sometimes we think) was; “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4.38) What!? They were in a storm to be sure but no need to accuse God of not caring! Oh, He cares! And that my friends, is my Anchor and yours in the tough stuff of life we will certainly face when we follow Him. And especially when He calls us to the deep end of the pool.