I cheated today. It is with shame and humility that I write this confession. During my quiet time today I cheated and read tomorrow's reading from the Psalms. Scandalous, I know. But I couldn't help myself. Which, interestingly, was the same excuse I gave to Mrs. Jury in sixth grade when she caught me cheating on a reading test.
The first two verses from tomorrow's reading in Psalm 127 go as follows:
Unless the Lord builds a house,
the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
guarding it with sentries will do no good.
It is useless for you to work so hard
from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to his loved ones. [NLT]
Several years ago my father-in-law and I started Catalyst Ministry founded strongly in a belief born from this passage. Often we find ourselves dreaming about what may be on the horizon for our community, families and ministry. Whenever one of us approaches the other with a new potential vision to chase after, we have learned to ask a simple question: "how much time have you prayed about this?" It is easy for a dreamer to dream. It is easy for a visionary to see visions. And it is easy for a salesman to solicit a buyer. In our culture we over value the dreamer and under value the developer. We worship the entrepreneur and ignore, even mock the farmer. Yet without the farmer, with the discipline to daily work at the obvious tasks before them, the entrepreneur would not eat. And it is the entrepreneur, with dreams and schemes, who envisions new machinery, tools and techniques to help produce more abundant harvests.
Neal (my father-in-law) and I hold each other to task about our prayer life because we have experienced that God Himself is both the Entrepreneur and the Farmer. He is a visionary leader and a disciplined worker. So within Catalyst we have a simple saying: "We won't chase on earth what has not first been birthed in Heaven."
In a culture that idolizes the new it is tempting to chase the next shiny thing. But if that shiny vision has not first been born within the throne room of God Himself then we will ultimately do nothing but exhaust ourselves, our resources, our family and our community as we try to birth it here on earth.
And this truth begs this question: how do you know? How do you know if what you are chasing (family, career, ministry, friendships, community, schooling, etc.) comes directly from God Himself? Over the next few weeks we will take some time to delve into this question: "What does the voice of God sound like?" in hopes of helping to clarify what God may be speaking to you and I from His throne room.