Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The Lord Is My Shepherd (Leading the Presence-Driven Church)

Tipp City, Ohio

Option 1 - The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. (Psalm 23:1)

Option 2 - I am my shepherd, I shall be in want.

Atheist Timothy McVeigh chose option 2. Logically, he was correct, given his atheism. That is, if atheism is true, then as Nietzsche told us we are adrift in a dark universe where there is neither up nor down, forward nor backward. On atheism our lives are planets orbiting nothing. So McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, quoted these words from "Invictus" as his last: 

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
This was McVeigh's final statement. On atheism all we are left with is self-shepherding. I've been there, done that. My autonomous ship once spun in the nihilistic vortices of nothingness. Such was the comic absurdity of "mastering" (engineering - ha!) my own fate.

At age twenty-one I deconverted from option 2 to embrace option 1. I found my Shepherd. My Shepherd found me. I am no longer wanting. 

My Shepherd's macro-capacities transcend my micro-abilities. He leadeth me and enableth me. Thank God that I am not captaining my own soul. I have been freed from the blindness of self-mastery.

So I connect. I get alone with God, as Jesus did. Like Jesus, I meet with the Father to find out what the Father wants me to do, and to receive power for the doing.

Ruth Haley Barton writes:

"The raw gift of leadership may be there—as it certainly was for Moses—along with a strong sense of what is right and what we think needs to be done in this world. But our leadership cannot be a force for good if it is not being refined by the rigors of true solitude, that place where God is at work beyond what we are able to do for ourselves or would even know how to do for ourselves." (Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry, p. 43)

Option 2 - I am my shepherd, I shall be in want.

Option 1 - The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. (Psalm 23:1)

My new book is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.