Creating a Learning Network for Kingdom Builders!
I wanted so much to write tonight of a joyous time my family had in gathering for our family charter time. This is my wife, my daughter, myself, our household, seeking, I pray, to live Christ as our family identity and purpose.
But tonight was not joy, but disappointment, a test of my patience and my commitment to walk in Christ’s way and not in the way of Paul Collier. At the center of this unhappiness, this turmoil was my 7 year old daughter, Nela, who has been having difficult times as we gathered for our family charter.
I realize that what we do we don’t just do so that our family builds each other up in Christ, but that what we do is a model for families, to live out Christ in our living rooms in an extendable way. So, everything I do I have to ask myself if this is extendable, able to be replicated amongst those who might not be natural teachers, who might not have a ‘scholarly’ understanding of the DNA of Christ’s Kingdom.
My daughter was not in the mood to listen to our boring talk of the Kingdom of God, or hear us go over the ways in which we can love one another in Christ. She was anxious to go to her Grandmother’s, where puppies awaited her.
I was very angry with my daughter. She was acting like a spoiled brat, I felt, a self centered, inconsiderate brat who wanted nothing to do with Christ. So many words came into my head, very angry words, that I knew I could not express, lest I do far more harm to Nela and contribute to driving her from Christ and not to Christ. Must live the Kingdom, I thought, must live the Kingdom.
It was about an hour of seeking to find a way to enter into Godly fellowship with Nela and being resisted, for the sake of puppies. I won’t say that I perfectly reflected the Kingdom of God in my interactions with Nela and I won’t pretend to have perfect self awareness of myself to know for certainty that I reflected the Kingdom of God. But I did seek God and His presence even as I felt lost.
My nature is to work to control outcomes, to ‘make things happen’, and yet I know I am powerless. I am not the Holy Spirit. All I can do is seek to reflect the truth of Christ in word and deed and pray.
At one time I stopped and prayed for my family, I prayed for the Holy Spirit to fill us, but there was no great movement. I spoke of my frustration with God, not quite frustration, but my lack of understanding, but reiterated my faith in His way, not mine, that though this time seemed so futile, that though I felt lost, abandoned, unguided by God, I knew through my faith that these feelings were lies, that God was working in His way, though I could not, and still do not, understand it.
I have faith I will be shown His way in this night, but, for right now, I don’t see it clearly. My night ended with Nela being no closer to falling in love with Christ than it began. I took her to her Grandmother’s where her sour mood was changed to happiness as she approached the puppies. We ended by showing love for one another, giving our hugs and kisses, and, at least I could see Nela was making a real effort to show me she loved me. You see, I am on my way up to the mountains tomorrow morning and I won’t see Nela until Friday.
Even as I showed her my sincere love for her, and left her in peace, and she made sure to show love for me and leave me in peace, inside I was still very angry with Nela. I understood my angers were not born from God but from death, and while I understood that and could resist following my anger, expressing it, living in it, the feeling of fire still churned within me.
I went home with my wife and spent a good night with Jena. We spent a little time sharing our fears and frustrations for our daughter, but then concentrated on each other, preparing one another to be without the other for a time.
Our family charter night was a test of living out Christ even in disappointment, even when the other was not seeking to live out Christ as we might be. It was a test of extendibility, a challenge for me I still must consider, for there will be other families with children, and if we come together to build a covenant with one another in Christ, it is for us to seek to allow joy, fun to be a part of what we do, and that means fun for our kids, and transfering God's truth in a language, a concept our children will understand, deep enough for meaningful Christ-centered commitments to be born, but simple enough for children to be participants, equal partners, though still being the Godly leaders our children need us to be (leading where children need led).
Our family charter night reinforced something I know all too well. But before I share it, let me reinforce this truth- I seek to worship God in all I do. It is this seeking after praising God constantly that any fruit in my life emerges from. It is the beginning and end of my purpose as a disciple of Christ.
I am called to connect to the body, to make disciples as a Godly extension of that worship. It is not my purpose or my design, but it is how God moves in the lives of those who worship and praise Him daily. When the body connects, as the worship of God leads us to do, by His design, the body equips itself with many voices, perspectives, skills, the diversity of the body. This is God’s design and plan and purpose and we are not led to understanding the ‘practical’ value of the body connecting but the divine truth of the fruit of a connected body, through which the Holy Spirit moves more strongly. God does not need this, but He has designed it this way and His reasons are not as important as simply following His way.
I want to make this truth clear so that when I say to you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and any lost person who might be reading this, that my daughter needs the connected body, you will understand that it is not my purpose and goal to connect the body, but to be led in my worship of God with a knowing that the body WILL be connected wherever two or more brothers and sisters in Christ gather to praise and worship HIM in their daily lives.
So I say that the body of Christ must be connected so that children like my daughter, Nela, might, would have diverse voices, equippers to deliver her truth in ways that I, Paul Collier, limited in my voices and the skills God gave me, cannot do alone. But that body will be connected only through the praise and worship of God daily in our lives, where everything we do is an extension of that loving praise of the one truth, the one way, the one King.
There are so many details I haven’t shared here, nuances that might help you understand better what I experienced tonight, but I believe I have expressed the true essence of this night.
My daughter, even my Nela Marie, my bug, truly, along with her mother, the love of my life, is not greater to me than the King. She is for God to work, not me. I am a steward of Christ’s daughter, not the true father of Nela, merely a steward, called on to live Christ with my daughter, to share His truth, to pray, as Christ prayed for Peter when the devil sought to take Peter.
I cannot make Nela a Christian, a follower of Christ. This is perhaps one of my greatest tests to submit to Christ, to not seek to make myself or anyone else, but to pursue His presence and revel in worshipping Him. I don’t know if Nela will live in Christ or choose the world, if she will spend seasons in darkness before coming to light, like I did, or where she might ultimately follow. God has not spoken clearly to me.
I shared this with you tonight because I have shared so much of the joys, even just yesterday the great night of fellowship with my extended family, but we are to seek to praise His name even in disappointment, in pain. So tonight, I seek to praise His name, to proclaim my faith in His Way, not my own, to put His child, Nela, in His hands, to honor my commitment to be the steward assigned by Christ to raise His daughter in His truth, and leave the rest to Him, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Tonight was not a success, not in terms of seeing my family take another step forward in being the Kingdom of God amongst ourselves, right here in our living room. And tonight, I had little answers from myself, and even, it seemed, and still seems, from God. This will be the same for other families who make this choice, to make Christ the master of their homes, their relationships. How we walk in disappointment will be, I believe, what defines our faith far more than how we walk in success.
This Saturday, at 4 pm, we meet again, Nela, myself, my wife. We are going to go over everything we have discussed so far. We are going to strip away all the parts we covered that all three of us don’t yet understand, and from that we will make a covenant, and by God’s grace that covenant will grow deeper, wider, as we, as a family, grow in our understanding of the Kingdom of God.
I will post our family charter in this commnity when I am done and you will see, I hope, how the Kingdom of God is reflected in all our comittments, our pledges to one another, like comitting to play with your daughter outside, or comitting to serve our neighbors.
If you are living Christ and you have failed or others have failed you, I hope this will encourage you to keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking and know, the door will be opened, what you seek you will find, and what you ask will be answered. It is brutal sometimes, messy, filled with drama and what seems like unnecessary conflict, but His burden is light.