I don’t know about you, but I sure like comfort! And how I hate loss. Pain, discomfort, and crisis—can we remove them from our discussions? From our lives? Yet in the midst of current worldwide economic turmoil, loss and crisis unfortunately seem to be a trend. In a speech a few days ago President Obama used the word “crisis” about 30 times. Seems that he knows we’re in one.
Jonah faced several crises. Chapter 4 recently impacted me. There, Jonah was so frustrated that he questioned the value of his own life: …at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
Jonah LOVED that vine! He finally had received some deserved prosperity and a welcome “air conditioner” in the desert. Yet the gift so quickly became an entitlement and expectation. In the midst of an amazing revival, he was overwhelmed with this loss. Very close was the huge city of Nineveh completely open to the Lord, with the king and city leaders responding in repentance. Looks like a revival! How ridiculous it seems to focus on a dead vine and miss the hand of the Creator touching this mega-city, through him! Ridiculous, of course, until I look at my tendencies…
You and I live in the midst of dead vines. We always have—and (sorry to break the news) as long as we are on this earth, we always will. I’m the first to confess how easy it is to look down and focus on my “dead plants.” Unmet expectations, disappointing relationships and loss of comfort or income are all snares, sometimes laid carefully by an active enemy.
This week, in the midst of decreased missions giving from our churches and difficult budget reductions, I was privileged to spend two days in one of the largest cities in the world, Mexico City, which has about 25 million people. What a city! What possibilities and potential! The Holy Spirit is moving in a precious way through the leadership of Foursquare pastors Djoko and Nora Wayulo. What a wonderful reminder of how the great river of the Holy Spirit is moving upon this planet, and how He is using our family!
Just before going there, I spent time in prayer with our awesome office team, and in the midst of financial realities the focus of our prayer became:
- That we would each repent personally for any places in which we have not been wise in our stewardship of the resources and finances given to us.
- That instead of becoming fearful and holding back, we would be led by the Holy Spirit in giving more, with His heart, even in the midst of a difficult season.
- That we would not miss anything that the Lord wants to teach us at this time (a crisis is many times a great opportunity to learn and refocus).
- That the Lord would use each of us to bring abundant and generous joy to the places where we live and work: our neighborhoods and offices.
I share and extend these prayers to you, as an encouragement to lift our eyes “to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber” (Psalm 121). I pray that dead vines would not be our focus, but that we instead would lift our eyes to the harvest, prophetically and supernaturally having our eyes opened to see the great river of the Holy Spirit moving in the world around us. And in that river, may He use us—together.