May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. – Ephesians 3:18-19
It’s interesting: I pray; I study; I prepare for weeks; I outline point after point, creating slides to support my ideas; I pray; I bring along extra materials; I plot out new directions allowing for unforeseen variables; I pray….
And then yesterday morning, walking from morning prayers in the outdoor chapel and back toward the conference room, having heard a hundred birds sing out their praise to God and their appreciation for this beautiful creation, it suddenly occurred to me that this pastors’ retreat was really all about four things, and my closing lecture changed accordingly. It was about:
- Building communities of disciples;
- Moving forward as a Covenant People who live into the promises of God;
- Coming so close to Jesus that our passion for the Good News simply spills over;
- Operating not just at but beyond capacity, because that’s what God does when we allow ourselves to be filled up.
First, however, the pastors there became their own community. “This is what the Body of Christ looks like,” one participant said during closing communion; “I see it now.”
“That’s exactly what this gathering is all about,” I said. “I could stand up here and say, ‘blah, blah, blah, blah’ for hours on end, and it wouldn’t make that much of a difference so long as the real work – between the lectures – is going on.”
The “live beyond capacity” idea is from my 2012 book, “10 Life-Charged Words.” Typically, individuals – and organizations – believe there are predetermined limits to life, to growth, to reinvention, and reformation. As if progress necessarily slows down and comes to a halt as we approach capacity.
When the Holy Spirit is involved, however, we have the potential to operate at 110% of capacity, at 150%, at 200%, and even more.
But – and this is the most crucial point – we cannot grow until we are, first, willing to be filled.
This idea is kind of like a water balloon. It doesn’t begin to change – to stretch – to metamorphosis – to transform – until it is on the brink of being full.
So we completed our retreat by saying – essentially, “Fill me up, Lord; bring me into all of the possibilities that come with complete commitment to you; may your kingdom come and may your will be done; wash over us like the ocean washes onto the shore.”
And then we went into the chapel, and we prayed, and we passed the peace, and we came a little closer to Jesus, and we took the bread and the wine, and we were filled.
In love, and because of love – DEREK