by Ps. Heinrich Titus
At the end of another year which has sped by at break-neck speed, I want to thank you for your tireless commitment to praying unceasingly for us as a church family during this year of transition.
Allow me to share a bit of my journey with you.
At the beginning of this year I picked up a foot injury whilst running. I did what I knew to do – I gave it rest. By then I had learnt that simply running through the pain is not a very wise move since you can ignore your pain for a while only to pay a much higher price later. So, I rested the foot for a week. The week became a month and the month became nine months without the pain going away. Turns out that I had underestimated the extent of the injury and unless I was going to change something, I was not going to make any progress.
So out came the moonboot and the crutches (which I was supposed to have been wearing during Convergence and the Pastors’ Summit already) and my whole life changes. Not in one big way, but in many small ways. I now needed people to help me open up certain doors at restaurants and shops, needed to think twice before I planned any trip anywhere, and even had to reconsider whether it really was worth getting up for that cup of tea and the subsequent trip to the bathroom afterwards!
After much prayer and laying on of hands, I submitted to the fact that God has chosen to heal my foot via this slower route and I embraced the lesson and the season contained within it.
First of all, I have come to realise that I needed to slow down – that running after every appointment and every ministry activity is not necessarily going to make me more fruitful, nor sustainable in the long run (how I long for one again). Secondly, it dawned on me that I am not always in the best position to accurately assess the state of my own life. I need others to help me see and I need others to keep me walking in the right direction and in the right way. Furthermore, I began to understand that simply taking a break, even though good, is not always good enough. Sometimes you need specific, focussed intervention and rehabilitation to change the way you do things. Otherwise, you will keep on getting the same results, even with the best of intentions.
More than anything else, though, my experiential world opened up to people with disabilities in a profound way (even though I cannot even begin to think that I understand fully what most of them are going through). I began to realise how, we as a movement in general, are so geared to simply run with the strong and the swift – those educated enough, motivated enough, gifted enough, charismatic enough, and those showing the right leadership qualities – that we often, mostly not on purpose, leave behind so many who cannot keep up with us.
My heartfelt conviction remains that the Lord Jesus Christ is preparing worshippers who will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. I am reminded again of John Andrews’ profound words during Convergence – God cannot change the person I am pretending to be, only the person that I am.
Part of the call for those who would hold onto God and His promises is to prepare the way for the King of kings. And the King is coming to have honest conversations with us. If we embrace this time, I believe we will connect with not just His love, but also His understanding of our humanity. Christ as the great High Priest is praying for us right now, and can do so because He understands us, even having walked in our shoes.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Romans 8:34
A journey of self-discovering, even though often painful, is never in vain if done under the loving and non-condemning guidance of the Father.
I shared with some of our leaders recently that I feel the Holy Spirit beckoning us to position ourselves the way Habakkuk did, and I pray that wherever this time of the year might find us, we will make the time and find the space to do the same:
I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. Habakkuk 2:1
Earlier this year, God spoke to us as a church family and directed us to go over to the “other side”; to leave the familiar shores of much of what we have been used to, and to trust Him to lead us. I want to thank each one of you for taking the step of faith to embark on that journey with us. It has stretched and challenged us in ways we never thought possible and has demanded of us to trust Him like never before (Mark 4 and 5).
More than just getting us to the “other side”, I am convinced that God has just as much interest in what transpires in our hearts whilst we are on our journey. I want to encourage all of us to use this time of the year to reflect on what came out of our hearts as we journeyed from the beginning of this year to where we are now. There are a few questions that I regularly ask myself, and I have purposed in my heart to position myself on the wall of prayerful contemplation so that the Holy Spirit can speak to me and correct me where He needs to. You might have your own, but here I share mine with you (just the questions, the answers are between myself and God, for now), in the hope that it stimulates you to slow down as well and to engage with the One who knows us better than we know ourselves:
- Where am I relationally with regards to God? Has my trust in Him grown, or is there lingering disappointment that has the potential to cripple my faith? Has my worship become more authentic than what it was this time last year, or am I going through the motions when I am “at church” on a Sunday?
- Where am I relationally with regards to the people closest to me? Have I grown closer to the most significant people in my life, or are there areas where I have allowed disappointment, hurt, unforgiveness, bitterness or apathy to create distance between us? When I say I love my wife and kids more than anything else, will they be able to confirm that experientially?
- Where am I with regards to my calling to become more like Christ? Do I think, sound and act a little bit more like Christ now than what I did when I first started this year? Does my heart break for the things that break His, or am I simply going through the motions? Have I taken up my cross and died to things dear to me, or have I sought to defend myself, to fight for what is mine, and to remain in my comfort zone?
- What do I see? Do I have hope that God is faithful to shepherd me, my family, our church and our nation to His purposes, or have I become cynical?
- What comes out of my mouth? The words of my mouth reflect the state of my heart. What I say when no-one else is around says more about me than words spoken from the pulpit.
My foot has still not healed completely, and I suspect the same can be said of parts of my spiritual life. What I have come to understand more than ever before, is that that is OK. It doesn’t make God less God and it doesn’t make me less His son. I have come to understand that His grace truly is enough for those who know that they need healing, that His strength takes over where ours fails, that His love flows where our hearts break, that His voice speaks where the sound of our reason ceases, that His comfort is multiplied where our religion makes way for compassion, that His power delivers where the flesh has nothing to boast in, and that His presence rains on thirsty hearts.
My prayer is that you will find your place on the wall to be a time of intimate refreshing, joyful reawakening and humble, yet confident repositioning, as you look to the One who alone is faithful and worthy of our complete trust.
Know that you are loved,
Heinrich and Nikki