Windex For The Soul – a lesson from “How Not To Miss God Moving”
The following article is an excerpt from Craig’s new book, How Not To Miss God Moving:
I’m not a surfer, but I’ve given it a try a time or two. I like the idea of surfing, but I’m not very good at the practice of it. In addition to being physically intense, it’s also psychologically frustrating. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought a wave was going to be stronger than it actually was or thought that a little swell wasn’t worth the energy it would take to catch.
But there is an important spiritual lesson I’ve learned while bobbing about in the ocean: the signs that mark the arrival of a great wave are often subtle at first, and easily missed. In fact, some of the best waves are at first discerned in a myriad of subtle changes in the waters that only experienced surfers know how to read. When such waves finally reveal themselves, and the fortunate pros are exuberantly sliding down their emerald faces, there are always a host of disappointed paddlers slapping the water in frustration and asking, “How did I miss that?”
In my journey with Christ these past decades I have rarely been alerted to God’s movement by a burning bush experience, but I have often been alerted to His movement by subtle changes in the waters. Learning to read those shifts of current has enabled me to catch the wave of God’s movement in exhilarating ways.
Windex for the Soul
We can miss God moving for a variety of reasons, some of them more obvious than others. This book is not really about these obvious things, but we have to give them some thought here at the beginning. There are certain obstacles to seeing God move that we have to make sure are not obscuring our vision before we go any further.
As I write these words, there’s something wrong with the hood-release mechanism on my car. That wouldn’t really be a problem except that the other day I ran out of windshield washer fluid. Since I can’t get the hood to release, I can’t get in there to add more fluid. I’ve been busy (read: lazy), so I didn’t worry too much about it. I mean, the windshield was a little dirty, but it wasn’t a big deal. Then I had to drive home after a snow storm. The roads were covered in slush that kept getting thrown onto my windshield, but that was fine…as long as it was wet enough, my windshield wipers kept the glass clear. But as the sun dried up the roads, less and less actual moisture made it onto my windshield. Eventually, the glass was coated in a dry grime that significantly affected visibility.
Still, I felt like I could see well enough to continue, so I just kept going. I made it back to town with no problems. I drove to my neighborhood without any difficulty. I turned down my road without a hitch…then drove right past my own house.
Now, in my defense, my house looks a lot like my neighbors’ houses, one of the benefits of living in a covenant controlled community that strictly regulates what paint colors we can use. But still, I should have been able to spot my house, shouldn’t I? But I couldn’t, because the windshield that I thought was “clean enough” was actually so opaque that I couldn’t make out enough details to spot my own home.
Similarly, there are some things that can blur our spiritual vision so much that we will have little or no hope of seeing God move, no matter how powerfully He might do so. We need to make sure these obstacles aren’t obscuring our vision before we even bother to look at some of the more subtle things that are the primary concern of this book. Some of these obstacles we must address first include:
- Absence of the Holy Spirit – This book assumes that you are a born-again Christian; that is, that you believe that Jesus is the unique Son of God who lived a perfect life, died as a sacrifice for our sins and rose again after three days. This book assumes that you have personally trusted in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for your forgiveness and have received the Holy Spirit who is both a deposit guaranteeing your salvation (Eph 1:13-14) and your guide in truth (John 16:13). Without the Holy Spirit you will not have the spiritual discernment necessary to see God move, and overcoming the obstacles discussed in this book will be impossible.
- Unaddressed sin – God doesn’t require us to have achieved perfection before He moves in our lives. If that’s what was required, then no one could ever experience the hurricane of God’s grace that is salvation. But when we are mired in a habit of sin and unwilling to repent of it, we will often find ourselves blind to what God is doing around us.
- Chronic biblical ignorance – The Bible is not the only way in which God speaks, but it is the first and most important place where we come to know who He is and what He is like. This knowledge is critical to recognizing God when He moves.
- Denial – Human beings have an amazing capacity to tune out things they don’t really want to hear or have to deal with. Unless we are willing to accept the fact that God may move us in ways we aren’t necessarily excited about moving, we may find that we simply ignore the signs.
- Apathy – I find myself struggling with this every time I try to go surfing. After a while, the attention required to read the subtle shifts of current and get my board moving in time to catch the coming wave is just too much and I give up. I’d rather just lie on my board and let the wave pass me by than make the effort to catch it. The same thing can happen in our pursuit of God. We can get tired of the effort and just give up, settling into an apathetic lethargy that causes us to miss what God wants to do in and through us.
If you are struggling with any of these things, now is the time to deal with them. The rest of this book will be meaningless if you don’t – like asking for directions to someplace when you’re handcuffed to a lamppost.
If you cannot say with confidence that you are a born-again Christian, then what’s stopping you from trusting in Jesus as your Savior right now? If the answer is something like, “I don’t really know what I believe about Jesus,” or “I have some big, unanswered questions,” then find a Christian to talk to, someone who can help you find the answers you need. If the answer is simply, “I’ve just never made that commitment,” then why not do it right now? Just say to God, “I’m sorry for my sins. Thank you for sending your own Son to offer me forgiveness. Jesus, thank you for dying in my place. Please take away the eternal consequences of my sin and take your place as Lord and Savior in my life. Holy Spirit, please come to me and mark me for salvation by living in me. Give me the spiritual eyes to see God moving in my life.”
If you’re a Christian, but know of unaddressed sin in your life, repent of it (which means commit to turning away from it), confess it to God and accept His forgiveness.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9)
If you realize that you don’t know enough about who God is and what He is like to recognize Him even if He did move in your life, get involved in a church that works hard to teach the Bible. Get involved in a small group Bible study. And above all else, start reading the Bible!
If, after careful reflection, you find yourself having to admit that you’ve got a problem with denial, then that may be a little trickier. For many people, this kind of denial emerges only after they’ve already begun to sense that God is moving them towards something scary – or away from something comfortable. My advice is that you ask God through the Holy Spirit to show you which one it is and then ask for a renewed faith to deal with it. In any event, it will probably be very helpful to share your struggle with a trusted Christian friend, pastor or counselor.
If you feel like you’re struggling with apathy, feeling like you’re just too tired to care, that you’d rather miss God move than make the effort to catch the wave, then realize that’s probably not true. If you had really given up, why would you be reading a book like this?
There’s a profound difference between struggling with feeling like you just can’t push on in your pursuit of God and giving in to a settled apathy. If there is even a glimmer of desire to see God move in your life, then chances are that you are weary rather than truly apathetic. And chances are also good that you’re weary because you’ve been swimming against the current rather than with it, fighting to catch a wave by your own strength rather than discerning how to get on board with what God is doing. If you’re exhausted, but not truly apathetic, then read on. This book may be a subtle grace, something God brings into your life to help you identify the blinders that have prevented you from seeing all that He longs to do in you.
These obvious things are not the subject of this book. It doesn’t take a theologian or a Bible scholar to know that unaddressed sin or chronic apathy will get in the way of our seeing God move. But we may also miss God moving for other, more subtle reasons – ones that we may be far less prepared to identify on our own.
This book is about understanding those things and identifying them in us so that we can begin cooperating with the Holy Spirit to remove their blinding influence from our lives.
Craig’s newest book is on the printing presses right now and will ship in the next few days.
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