Most encounters we have with God are a source of delight and inspiration, but there is a type of encounter that can be very scary. These encounters are a response to those parts of our life that we would rather remain hidden, the known but denied. Nevertheless, the necessary encounter is the act of a loving God to confront us about those things that will, if left unaddressed, lead us toward destruction.
What is God writing on your wall?
A common icebreaker is the question: “If you were shipwrecked on an island, what three things would you take with you?” Whether you believe in God or not, the way you answer this question sheds light on what you think is most important in life. Shipwrecks, whether by circumstance or choice prompt us to think differently, just as Jesus demonstrated in the midst of a storm. Because God uses shipwrecks to clarify what matters most in life.
Tonight at church I did something really different. I actually can’t remember a time I when I have been so nervous (I’m talking days!) prior to sharing. Having been given the topic “How can a loving God send good people to hell?“, and a grand total of 5 minutes to share from the platform, the scene was primed for creativity.
So rather than preaching, I wrote and presented the message in a “spoken word” format while the graphic above progressively appeared behind me. It wasn’t just about communicating with a different style, but rather, with the limited time that I had, to share in a way that would prompt questions, invite people’s hearts to resonate with the imagery, and hopefully make a few key statements stick. The video can be found here, but for those interested here are the lyrics:
When I proposed to Megan I put everything on the line
in the hope that she would say, “Yes, you’re mine.”
Moments like these are stunning moments of love,
but it is still a choice, not a push or a shove.
I had a man come up to me straight after I had shared this sermon with our Crossway community a couple of weeks ago, and looking into my eyes he said with a smile:
I have been a Christian for 30 years, and I have NEVER heard anyone preach on prayers of lament. I just wanted to say thanks.
I was taken aback by his statement, that a part of our relationship with God that is so integral, that is, communication when we are suffering, hurt, isolated, when we are at our worst, had (and has) been rendered mute within churches for so long. Perhaps prayers of lament will be a new idea for you too.