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Think Big, Start Small, Go Deep - Part 3
God Calls Us To Fulfill His Grand And Glorious Vision
III. Go Deep
We talked about the need to think big and start small. Now I want to add the final action to this three-part process in that we must go deep. Jesus spoke of a tiny mustard seed, the hidden yeast, a little salt, and a grain of wheat as having a profound influence far beyond their size. Imagine what would happen if you took one spiritually hungry, teachable person and love him or her unconditionally—disciple that person by spending time together.
Churchgoers today complain of the sorry lack of intimacy in the churches that they attend. The members don’t seem to have enough time to spend in getting to know each other better throughout the week. They simply bump into each other every Sunday, turn and greet their neighbors around the pew as they shake hands on cue, and share in a little small talk over coffee after the service. Then it’s, “See you next Sunday.” True fellowship is lost among church members who are caught up in leading exceedingly fast paced, complex lives. They limit themselves to minister to each other upon the shallow surface of their deep and hidden lives. The very thought of influencing the world for Christ can seem impenetrable and downright overwhelming at times. But we can begin with one lost or hungry person as Jesus illustrated in the parable of the lost sheep (Lk 15:1-7).
At one time, I happened to be a lost sheep that strayed into the vast and undiscovered world of Christendom. When I came to the Good Shepherd some 25 years or so ago, I was hungry to know him and serve in his kingdom. The problem was that I began to serve Christ before even coming to know him. I was too busy working in the kingdom that I forgot to find the time to spend with the King. My schedule was swamped with prayer meetings, evangelistic outreaches, bible studies, and worship services. Jesus almost had to stand in line and take a number to have an audience with me. I eventually began to wear down and lose my way in the thick of ministry. It was then that I came to realize I was serving a King I never really knew.
I asked myself the hard questions. Who is this King I serve? How does one come in contact with Christ? Where can I find his presence? I may have known about Jesus but I didn’t know him in a deep and personal way. I thought I was the pastor that was capable of leading the flock in my care to the green pastures and still waters. In truth, I unknowingly remained a lost and hungry sheep meandering in the dark valleys as I sifted blindly through my overwhelming church responsibilities and commitments. My ministry and my marriage were slowly coming apart at the seams. Even if I had come so far with my skills and talents, I sensed that I was simply treading shallow waters, paddling in circles and sinking nowhere fast. I needed to be rescued from a life lost in an unbiblical translation.
Somehow during this treadmill of a time, I managed to meet Dwight over a family dinner that my father arranged. We talked about my walk with Christ and about questions that I may have had concerning my newfound faith. That was the first time Dwight shared the gospel with me using a paper napkin. As the dinner came to a close, he invited my brother Jeric and I to join him the next morning to read the bible and pray. “We’ll have a quiet time together,” he said.
At six sharp the next day, Dwight was seated in his car, reading his bible, while waiting for us in the parking lot. He took us to the American Cemetery, which was located in a private and secluded spot in the middle of a bustling city. As we walked alongside the multitude of silent graves marked with bright white crosses, I knew that our time here couldn’t get any quieter. Dwight sat us down on the soft green grass under a shady Acacia tree. He had us open our bibles and showed us how he spent time with God in prayer every morning. As the sun’s rays began to lace their way through the trees and the morning mist began to fade, my brother and I glowed with a new and exciting insight. We never imagined that time spent with God could ever be like this. In fact, we didn’t want this time to end. We were so hungry for the word of God that we couldn’t get enough. There was so much more to discover and Dwight was there to deepen our walk.
That one invitation led us into the life of Dwight Hill. My brother and I would go over to his place after work and learn how to study the bible and memorize scripture. He made himself available to us as we invited family and friends to attend bible studies in his home. As Dwight conducted these bible studies, my brother and I would simply watch and learn how he handled the scriptures, answered questions, and led others to Christ. We even set up a special session where we invited our unbelieving friends and saw Dwight reach out to them with the gospel message.
One afternoon, he took us to the infamous Bilibid prison[i] just outside Metro Manila in order to visit an inmate. We met Ray who had just come to know Jesus. He hungered for the word and fellowship with other Christians. So there we were, in a holy huddle with an open bible, reading and praying together while the other curious and hardened criminals milled around us. It was an amazing thing to witness our teacher in action. Little did we realize that Dwight was going deep into our lives. He modeled the life of Christ before us. He was discipling us.[ii]
In his quest for holiness, a young man sought out the wisdom of an old pious hermit who had lived in the desert for many years. Upon arriving at the hermitage, the young man asks the old hermit, “Why is it that some men come into the desert, pray zealously, and yet leave after a short time, while others like yourself, remain on their spiritual journey for a lifetime?”
The old man smiles and says, “Let me tell you a story. One day as I was sitting here quietly with my dog, a large rabbit suddenly ran past us. My dog immediately jumped up, barked loudly, and gave chase to the rabbit. He chased the rabbit over the sand dunes and through the brush with much determination. Soon other dogs, attracted by his barking, joined him. What a sight to see as the pack of dogs gave chase to the rabbit. Slowly, however, they began to drop out, one by one, until only my dog persevered to the end.”
“In that story lies the answer to your question,” says the wise old hermit. As the young man sat in confused silence he said, “Sir, I do not understand.” He asked, “What is the connection between the rabbit chase and the pursuit of holiness?” The old man replied, “Those dogs who dropped out of the chase did so because they had not seen the rabbit. Only my dog saw the rabbit!”
In the sudden and unexpected appearance of the rabbit, the old man’s dog had seen a sight that caused him to persevere in his great pursuit. Before even giving chase, his dog had to catch the big vision that flashed before him—the prized rabbit. Only then could the dog start small in his pursuit, go deep into the desert, and persevere to the end.
Visions are a tangible sight to see, not a secondhand story to hear. Jacob wrestled with the angel of the LORD until daybreak, refusing to let go until God blessed him. In spite of the stones hurled at him in judgment, Stephen’s vision of the glory of God caused him to pray for his executioners at the point of death. The apostle Paul beheld a vision and heard the voice of the risen Christ along the road to Damascus. The Lord Jesus’ blinding presence redirected his steps and he never gave up his pursuit to be like Christ and make him known.
Has a specific vision from God run by you lately? If so, are you held captive by that vision to the point that you will not let go until it’s fulfilled in your lifetime? Can you see yourself in hot pursuit of this vision come hell or high water?Remember that it begins with the desire to raise one’s eyes and catch the big picture: think big, start small, and go deep.
[i] Bilibid Prison near Manila was built to hold thousands of convicts. It also held hundreds of American prisoners during Japan's occupation of the Philippines. The death penalty was for years administered on the electric chair.
[ii] In his website Facts of the Matter, Dwight Hill wrote the following advice in how to go deep in one’s relationship with a disciple: “Invest your life in one person. Listen carefully to his or her heart. Share the depth of your being with that person. Become vulnerable and transparent. In developing a trusting relationship, one has to peel off the layers in order to get to the core. Help this person identify and work through the hurts, fears, and bondages of life. Stick with this person through the ugly times, discouraging moments, and untimely setbacks. Show this person how to go deep with God. That is, walk this person through the process of learning prayerful meditation on the word of God. Assist this person in learning the disciplines of worship and solitude before God. Carve out unrushed times together for the sharing of hearts and prayers. Guide this person in understanding John 15 that genuine fruit is the excess growth of a life abiding in the Lord Jesus. Equip this person in God’s word. Help this person begin trusting God by claiming and appropriating promises from the scriptures. Guide this person in how to walk in the Spirit. Facilitate this person in discovering his or her spiritual gifts and God’s will for their lives. Assist this person in paring down his or her life to a few essentials by removing the extraneous. In a word, help this person become focused on knowing God. If you do just that, your disciple will quietly and powerfully multiply his or her life into others for generations. The fruit will spread like yeast and grow like a mustard seed beyond anything you could have possibly imagined. You will witness the truth of Isaiah 60:22 where it says, “The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation (NIV).”
© 2009, Gicky Soriano. All rights reserved.
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