Transition For Position
Articles - Christian Growth
by Jean Montgomerie
I love how, from Genesis to 'the maps,' God has been following a course that is a reflection of His pure heart. I truly believe we are on the home stretch of that course and that God is transitioning His church to position her for her finest hour.
And I love how God speaks a word at a formative time in our lives, and that word becomes foundational for our lives. Way back about 1970 I heard Bob Mumford deliver such a message in Tauranga. Bob unpacked church history and God's ongoing restoration of His eternal church, His bride. He described the river of God and how new revelation flowed on it. He shared how historically we have grabbed new truth, camped around it, muddied the waters, formed doctrine, enshrined it, given it a denominational name, and ended with a lagoon that the fresh, flowing river would barely affect. It was a warning for ears that would hear in the Charismatic move, as it is today.
That word awakened in my husband and I an expectation and a commitment to give ourselves to God's ongoing restoration even when it challenges our thinking. We've carried Bob's words in our hearts, checking the horizon for 'What are you doing now, what's coming next God on your fulfillment-of-the-ages agenda?' We've desired to seek and embrace the 'new thing' rather than settling with a 'this is it' mentality, and being critics of any new move. I guess Bob gave us a picture of a transitioning church.
Transition is very much a Biblical theme. The first step of faith is a transition; you repent, that is you have a change of heart followed by a change of action. Thereafter, to be changed from 'glory to glory' is a series of transitions. Every new revelation should bring transition as we grow into the reality of the revelation.
Personally, we've been on a transition of our own. In February 2012 we resigned from the church we planted twenty-one years ago, thereby closing one door and stepping into …. a corridor. A corridor is a challenge: we know we've left the last season behind, we're not quite sure what the new one looks like, or how it quite works. The danger with corridors is that we drag the furniture through from the room we just left, for comfort, but never quite move on through. We can kid ourselves that we've transitioned, but really we've just shifted furniture. For David and I, it feels like we've been outworking personally what God is doing corporately.
The transition facing the church body today is a metamorphosis! According to the dictionary a metamorphosis is 'a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism.' Inside a chrysalis, for example, the caterpillar virtually melts away, reforming as a butterfly in kind with the 'imaginal discs,' minute growth centres within its being. We, the church are being reformed in kind with the 'imaginal disc' of heaven within our being. Thy Kingdom come! The shift in church thinking on refreshed truths like grace, sonship, kingdom, interaction with angels and supernatural experiences for even the 'least in the Kingdom' and visions and dreams, is causing 'a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism' – His church.
Scripture tells us that sin caused us to fall short of the glory, proving that the glory is what we were destined for. We are designed to abide in the glory, living from heaven to earth, bringing heaven to earth. We are personally and corporately, walking out a prophetic word, that is, "The earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord." (Isaiah 11:9)
It Takes Time
One year on from my personal transition I'm still drying my wings. Though I must confess impatience to get going, I'm not hurrying the process. Hurrying a monarch fresh out of a chrysalis won't do him good. Rather, I'm trusting the Lord to do a good work in me as I allow Him to challenge my identity, purpose, heart motives, and in particularly the things that have driven me.
Coming back to Bob Mumford…he gave us perspective, i.e. God's restoration as a process, he taught us the value of hunger, and he challenged us to remain open to the new. In the last season, busyness overtook the dwelling place and damped down our hunger. Pushing vision and doing things with excellence for the sake of numbers – success as man sees it - was exacting, and eventually, when we'd given all we could and everyone was tired of it, we began to discover how barren we had become. Those things may have relevance in church life, but the immense danger is that we put our trust in them.
It is taking time for me to become quiet and rested, to disconnect from the things that disguised the true state of my heart. I'm encouraged by the caterpillar who totally dials down in his cocoon prior to emerging as a monarch! Most importantly, I'm working to establish again the habit of the abiding place. Bear in mind that 'working' at something in God isn't a popular thought with some with a deep revelation of grace! But also bear in mind that a hungry person will cook (which I consider 'work'), or at least, forage in the kitchen!
Without hunger for more, it's difficult to hold to the course of change, because change is disconcerting and often costly. You know you'll see it through when you have no taste for yesterday's bread, but you keep coming to the table recognizing your need for the 'more'! I do so need to re-encounter Him, and He implores me, Rev 3.20, to open the door to His knocking.
The High Places
Limited perspective leads to limited openness. Many Hebrew kings loved the Lord and did good in His sight, yet didn't remove the high places. I see the high places as traditions we hold dear and are emotionally attached to. They can be cultural things in people groups, but in the context of this article, church culture, the sacred cows of how church is done, and our dogmatic doctrines. Yesterday's revelation becomes today's religion if we aren't open to today's new move. Fear of facing our own emptiness or distanced relationship with God can hinder us from smashing high places established for our own defense.
Over and over God expressed disappointment that men who loved Him didn't tear down the high places. Why? Because these high places in our lives inhibit us from seeing clearly the new thing God wants. They stop us from hearing the finer tones of His voice. We cease to be open to the new moves of God. Yet to the end time church the Spirit urges us, "Come up here I will show you what must happen after this." (Rev 4:1)
It Has A Great Outcome
Early last year when I was hugely perplexed about the lie of my land, I had a very cool experience as I lay on my bed in that wee zone before sleep overtakes for the night. Suddenly a whole scenario opened before me - a black and white, penciled and chalked movie of a Jerusalem street in the most pivotal year of this world's existence. There was a Roman soldier, here the running crowd. Clatter on cobbled streets, incited voices, a crowd stirred by a new sport. And in the midst, the cross-carrying Jesus.
The mood on that street was varied. These were sober, those were hooting. Some women were weeping, others in festive mood. The uncouth, jeering, and mocking pushed and shoved beside those who followed with pained devotion. And here was a huddle of three or four men. I caught snatches of their conversation. "He's beside himself." "He's quite undone." I knew they were disciples; I knew they spoke of Peter. The camera swung round, and here was Peter, withdrawn from the crowd, head in his hands, in turmoil and anguish, desperate to know what was happening; unable to watch. It was heart-breaking.
Down the road now, the crowd surrounding the failing figure of Jesus began to climb the hill. But suddenly, there was another Jesus in my picture. He popped in from the side of the frame of my picture, his back to the drama unfolding behind him. He had that lazy, effortless smile of his, and was waving his arms about to get my attention. "It's O.K.," he hollered at me above the noise of the crowd. "IT HAS A GREAT OUTCOME!" Movie was over, and I fell asleep.
And it is O.K. This season of transition in the church world will have a great outcome as we rest in Him, knowing it is part of His eternal plan to restore His church. You may be like Peter, wondering how it will ever work out, but you need to know He has it all in hand. He's transitioning His church to position her for the home stretch. Perhaps your thinking and doctrines are being challenged. Maybe there's a high place or two. Like me, you might be pained while having a second look at your heart motives and the things that have driven you; you may be recognizing your own barrenness. It's OK. He's got it covered! Seek out His dwelling place, the 'sweet spot'. And be encouraged - He's transitioning you to position you to take on more glory so 'the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of God.'