The Day the Lord Said “Shut It Down, I Want You Back!”
Shut Down; I Want You Back
I’ll never forget a particular morning when I arrived at my office at the church I once pastored. The word busy doesn’t come close to describing my life at the time. I preached at three services on Sunday, hosted media ministries, traveled to various speaking engagements, and as Paul alluded to in 2 Corinthians 11:28, had the daily care of the church.
I had a lineup of staff meetings and other “urgent” appointments that day before a major board meeting that night to discuss construction changes to a new multipurpose facility we were building. Honestly, when I walked into the office door, prayer and quiet time with God hadn’t even crossed my mind. I’m sure I had no clue how spiritually distant I had become. I was still preaching well, or so I thought. People were being saved and the church seemed to be experiencing a good rate of growth. Yet I would soon be reminded that “good” isn’t the same as “God.”
My head was buried in my work, when seemingly out of nowhere I heard some words strongly spoken in my spirit:
“Shut it down; I want you back.”
I was stunned and couldn’t shake off what I was hearing. I mostly walked around in silence the rest of the day and the better part of the week. It was so obvious, my wife, Paula, noticed and inquired about my demeanor and mood. After some time of trying to work through it in my mind, I decided to seriously search my life. I went back and listened to recent sermons I had preached at our church. The structure was there along with the jokes, anecdotes, and songs. The applause was loud and the organ was always on time to emphasize the particular point I was trying to stress. But I knew—I knew—it was performance, not power.
Responding To The Call
I became overwhelmingly thankful that God had mercy on me and the people during that time of blunt and lost edges. With the words “I want you back” branded on my heart, I decided to spend a night in the church to seek the Lord. This would be the beginning of a series of repentant actions I would take to regain the edge. Other intentional actions would follow “I remembered that the Holy Spirit had said, “Shut it down.” I began trimming down my “good things” list, and then I began dedicating myself to finding and doing the “God things.”
I began trimming down my “good things” list, and then I began dedicating myself to finding and doing the “God things.”
I shut down radio programs, TV programs, and speaking engagements. I learned that I could delegate counseling to someone much more qualified than I was. I also learned that I wasn’t called to be a frustrated building contractor; I was called first to be a disciple of Jesus. Next I was called to be a devoted husband and father, and then a pastor whose chief responsibility was to be spiritually alive so that I could better equip the church I served.
Like the young student prophet of 2 Kings 6, who lost his ax blade, sometime you just have to stop everything and recover your effectiveness again. That experience taught me that the time taken to sharpen the edge is made up later in greater productivity for God’s purposes. If one never stops to invite godly intervention, things will only get worse.
Taking A Spiritual Inventory
At some point, one has to take a spiritual inventory. What were you doing when you noticed something was missing in your life?
Were your habits hindering your productivity?
Was the company you were keeping or possibly the entertainment to which you were giving yourself displeasing the Lord?
Have you learned how to ignore the Holy Spirit’s conviction and turn a deaf ear to the spiritual alarms going off in your heart?
The joy of serving the Lord is lost when we incessantly attempt to experience success by swinging at our problems with the blunt end of a static relationship with God.
Timothy M. Hill