By Derick Sherfey, Director of Content Strategy
2018 is a year I believe God is inviting me into deeper dependence. My family- alongside a team from our sending churches- relocated to Denver, Colorado in February to begin our journey of planting churches. These past three months have been filled with grace upon grace of subtle (and sometimes obvious) gifts of a heightened awareness of God’s presence, coming face-to-face with how foolish any attempts at self-sufficiency are, and door after door of opportunity and favor being opened wide in ways only explainable as answers to the prayers of God’s people.
I am learning dependence- not just because I am studying it, but because I am living it.
The first couple weeks in the city were frustrating. Filled with fear, struggling to know what to do in this ‘in between’ stage of our church, and the unsettledness of learning and living with new everything- new relationships, new surroundings, new culture, new jobs. I was driving early one morning into downtown, grumbling to God about how He felt far away and I felt alone, overwhelmed to know what to do first or what to do next- and how futile everything seemed that I had done over the last several days.
Then I saw the Rocky Mountains.
I mean, I always see them (Denver ain’t a hard place to live, ya’ll). And they’re always beautiful and awe-inspiring. But that morning I saw through them to the God who spoke them into existence by the power of His Word. Those mountains are majestic…how much more must their maker be? It was almost instant… clarity, conviction, confidence.
My God is big. Really big. With man, a lot of stuff is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
My God is glorious. All the longings of my restless heart are filled up with just one glimpse of His beauty.
My God is able. The God who simply spoke everything from nothing and holds it all together is the one who has spoken new life into my dead soul and is the one who sustains my feeble faith, promising to keep me until I see him face to face and he makes it all new.
My God is near. He’s not just my sovereign king, but my kind-hearted Father who has come near. This gospel we’re giving our lives to is first the gospel that gives me life.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd who led us here to Denver, who made me and lit these convictions and dreams in me. He promises to lead me, to protect me, to provide for me. He’s proven this by laying down His life for us, His sheep. Sheep are stupid, defenseless, and totally in need of someone outside of them to do for them what they cannot do for themselves. And just as Jesus walked in sync with the Father’s heart, hearing and obeying His voice, he tells us that he knows us and we will know him- that we can hear his voice and follow him.
That morning was a turning point in my heart. It was almost a tangible experience of what Paul prays for when he asks to have “the eyes of our heart enlightened.” It’s a gift to have the lights turned on to the liberating reality that our insufficiencies do not get in the way of God’s sufficiency. It’s the proud (self-focused, self-reliant) that God opposes. It’s the humble (God-focused, self-forgetful) that gets His grace. It was in this humbling embrace that I was convicted of my prayerlessness. Sure, I pray. But I’m talking about a life saturated in a posture of prayer because we’ve come to know the desperation Peter felt when he said, “where else will we go? You have the words of life.”
Most of my anxiety and “feeling stuck” could be traced back to functionally picking up the cares I had cast on him, because deep down I really didn’t think he cared for me like His Word tells me He does.
I’m learning what it means to cast cares at his feet and leave them there. To truly pray, fast, and seek his heart. To not just tell people you will pray for them, but to actually pray. I’m learning that there’s a difference between praying expectantly and praying presumptuously- for far too long I’ve let fear of the latter keep me from doing the former. I’m learning that there is a level of intimacy and communion with God when you stop trying to make things happen and instead, you pray and trust and wait. I’m learning that feelings and faith aren’t the prerequisite to a prayerful life; they’re the result of one. The things God has stirred up in me while praying, the very specific requests He has been answering in very specific ways, the hope that is welling up from taking God at His Word and simply asking. I could tell you story after story of how we have been experiencing answered prayers and yet there are many prayers we’re still waiting on God to act according to His good purposes and his perfect timing. In it all, we’re learning to live dependent on Him for everything. This isn’t an easy thing, but I’m eager for more.
Sent one, may we not be more in love with the kingdom than the King. May we not continue in the soul decaying, exhausting, overwhelming task of trying to live out God’s purposes in our own illusion of self-sufficiency. May we be marked by the ministry of prayer & the Word, walking in moment by moment intimacy and desperate dependence on the Spirit of God to accomplish the mission of God.