This week at the Re.Ignite book club (reignite is a fab book by Ian Parkinson) we had a fascinating discussion about holding loosely to things.
The idea is that so often we as Churches and Christians keep going with things that maybe we should have put down possibly years ago. Also, often it is through various adaptations and refinements that end up -often in a very different place- that we discover the place of fruitfulness. The recommendation of Ian Parkinson in his book was to hold loosely to things.
Yet yesterday at Pints Of View conversation moved to Bill Wilson (leader of the worlds largest Sunday School) has a very different mantra, which is “Christians often quit before the miracles kick in” and cites the inspirational Jackie Pullinger who was 7 years in the walled city in China (a hot bed of drug addiction and prostitution) before she saw anyone come to faith… I wonder if I had been in her situation whether I would have had the grit to stay faithful without the encouragement of fruit for 7 years (a little less than I have been in Kingswood) and yet now she is running a massively fruitful mission in China and seeing many, many lives transformed.
My worry is do I hold fast on what I should be holding loosely?
Do I hold loosely on what I should be holding fast on?
How do I know which is which?
Ultimately my greatest desire is simply to be faithful and do what God is calling me to do and not do what he is not calling me to do.
I don’t think that there is a simple formula about how to know which is which, ultimately it’s not a out formula but relationship, I believe it is about walking closely with our Heavenly Father, learning to hear and heed his voice.
Yet I would suggest that perhaps those who are more flakey perhaps the spirit of God, the refiners fire, is calling you to hold fast and preserve more?
Maybe are too focused maybe the God of all fruitfulness is call you hold things more loosely?
I also wonder whether we look at fruit too much as a guide, we often don’t see the fruit in people’s lives at the time anyway!
We often underestimate how long things take to embed themselves into any new situation, being a culture of instant coffee and broadband we expect results to happen in a flash, and also anything -even the most wonderful of things- normally hits an 18 month wall when the new has become normal, and the exciting has become routine.
Yet too, I think sometimes we are proud people too, and admitting that something isn’t working anymore, especially if it has been wonderful, is a hard thing to admit. We often hold on to the good (or even the okay) when I believe often God is calling us to lay it down in order to pick up the great.
So I believe sometimes we are called to hold loosely, and sometimes to hold firm and persevere, yet we need the wisdom to know the difference and as the epistle of James reminds us “if anyone lacks wisdom they should ask God who gives generously”.
“Whether you turn to the left or the right you will hear a voice behind you saying this is the way walk in it”