Surprise Visits

One of my “jobs” is to visit different churches and connect with pastors and church leaders to see if we are on target with our ministry … our ministry here is to encourage and train the Church in evangelism, disciple-making, leader development, and missions. Yes, I love my job! I still can hardly believe I get to do this.

Over the weekend, a team of six from our staff traveled to Torino to connect with a large youth event. A dozen or so churches, more than that many leaders and pastors, about 300 youth, and a kickin’ worship band. They were of the pentecostal flavor in most every way that label offers. And for about three hours, so was I. Yes, my “worship tank” had been running low until this weekend…

The songs were good, harmonies were on target, pace was wonderful (it was good to have some “free worship” time to connect with the God who loves worship), and the musicians really worshiped with their drums, keyboard, and guitars.

Worship is so much more than that, however. Worship is a pouring out (heart, fears, hopes, sins, words of intimacy) and a pouring in (mercy, forgiveness, acceptance, understanding, renewed passion.) Worship is a connection… a re-establishing of the heart to heart communion we all long for. Worship is an abandoning of all thoughts of independence or adequacy to the One Who loves unconditionally.

The surprise visit of God’s touch came not in a song, or word, or message. It came as a little boy.

While we were worshiping and lifting refreshingly new holy hands to God, this kid ran by, and ran by again… and again. He was about eight or nine. And he just had to run. (I know I sound like I’m going “gump” on you here.)

I am guessing he didn’t ask his parents, and he probably didn’t evaluate the timing, or check in with his mentor, and I’m sure it wasn’t on his objectives list. He just ran, back and forth. Some times his head was held high. Other times, his eyes were low and focused on… I have no idea what.

And it was done with such abandon. Oh, to worship, intercede, and serve with such focused abandon. It doesn’t matter what others think or say. It doesn’t matter what label I am given. Pentecostal, Charismatic, Third Wave, Evangelical, Protestant, whatever. Just do it with abandon.

Jesus admired this quality kids have. Yes, at least one day in his life, they were likely running back and forth while the disciples were trying to accomplish God’s will. But instead of hushing them, or stopping them, he invited them to his lap to take a breather… and to be blessed and encouraged in their abandoned passion.

Luke records that Jesus said one time, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

My western mind has trouble absorbing this verse. But if you follow Christ in a culture that considers naming Jesus as Lord to be a heresy or act of defiance, then yes it does look like hatred toward parents, culture, or whatever else keeps you “in line.” And if you follow Christ in the West in a way more passionate than “the crowd” you will be looked on with wary eyes.

Abandon reputation, all you who enter here… into the abandoned, passionate walk of the disciple of Jesus. And keep running, straight to His lap.

In The Running – Rick



  1. Linda Sewell said,

    02/05/2009 at 6:03 pm

    To not be concerned with rules, regulations, reputation-but just serve and love with total abandon! Thanks Rick for sharing this great thought.

  2. susan said,

    31/03/2009 at 1:01 pm

    I’m right there runnin with you!

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