In 2005 I made my second trip to Mexico City, where I was helping to conduct a conference in a small church in the north part of the city. It was really good to be back, as I had been deeply impacted by the Lord's heart on my first trip. The team was different, and me and the Nicaraguan pastor who had led the previous trip were the only repeats from the previous team earlier that year.
One of the daily routines was to travel from our hotel, which was in the city proper, out to the north part near the border of Mexico City and the state of Mexico. In this daily movement we were seeing all kinds of sites and people, impressions that were still fairly new to me, and my senses were heightened on this basis.
I was traveling with a friend from Texas named Keith, and he and I had a running conversation that we seemed to take up on the drive, as it took about an hour to cover a fairly short distance, based purely on the fact that tons of other people were on the move too. We got into some interesting territory conversationally, and it was a surreal time, I think for both of us.
During one of these treks, the Lord spoke to me, or us, through what I believe was a word of knowledge / wisdom. We were trying to sort out some stuff we had observed. You know, that tension between where things are and where they are going. We were feeling that tension and more or less just trying to understand what was going on. It was in this context that the Lord revealed something unexpected. I felt strongly that the Lord was letting me look into the future in this moment, and what came out were these words.
The Lord is moving the target of ministry.
What does that mean?
I went on to say, in description of what I was feeling, that the Lord was changing what He defined as ministry from the place it had been settled at for some time, and that in this move or redefinition, many people would continue to shoot at the targets that they were used to, and miss altogether that any shift had actually gone on.
I felt this was a warning, and that it was true and should be not taken lightly.
Obvously, it has been a few days since we had this experience, and it has proven unforgettable, partly because I have seen the evidence and proof of what the Lord was saying. As the Lord redefines something, He is leading us up from where we have been to a new destination. We had been “camping” , if you will, for quite a while in our understanding of what ministry is. Upon our first arrival at that destination, we were learning the surroundings, maybe the local phrases and language, and getting settled into the setting, and our roles in it. I was getting the notice that it was time to get on the move again, and to leave our familiar settings behind. I was also being told that not everyone was going to take the announcement kindly, nor be willing to move.
I had the feeling that the Lord was moving nonetheless, and if I knew what was good for me and everyone else, I would find a way to follow. In some ways, I have been trying to do that over the six years that have came and gone since that time. I don't believe that I have the market cornered on how to do this, or that I had gotten very good at it, but I know now that it is unavoidably necessary. We must keep pace with the Lord's direction and timing, we must remain relevant – not by the world's definition, but by His. We must keep pace with Him.
Look around you. Look at the institutions of man and the groanings of the people. There is a huge need, a huge desire, for something more, something better. This should tell us without a doubt that change is needed. Unfortunately, the kind of change that we are getting today, both in the church and in the world, is not what the Lord had in mind.
We are in the transition from an old day to a new one. Many will sense this, but instead of surrendering themselves to the Lord and to His will, accepting the risk that this introduces, they will try to repackage the past with a new wrapper. Most of this is done to continue to appear relevant in the eyes of men. I want to suggest to you that it is not the eyes of men that are principally upon us.
In this season, I want to encourage you to look toward the new thing and things that the Lord is desiring to bring about, and to arrange your life in a way to get engaged in it. The tension is real, and the stakeholders – those fully vested in what is – seem to be digging in to minimize loss. This approach seems sad to me. Why can't we just all agree to advance?
Don't let your heart be beguiled by the offerings of “a land like your own”, which Nehemiah's group was offered. We have to keep moving toward and into that which is, in fact, promised to us by God, and accept no substitutes.
A few years before the Mexico City encounter that shook me up, Kathy and I were traveling to a conference that was several states away, and we were going by car, which is normal. We were merging onto an interstate loop in a prominent southeast city that is known for it's challenging traffic. Immediately as we cleared the roundabout, and merged into the fray with many others on similarly important business, I glanced up just in time to see a road sign. It's two-word message to me has remained when the memories of the conference and all it's happenings have mostly faded into the background and been lost. And it is a faithful reminder, one we need to consider and reconsider as we are attempting to follow the Lord. I share it here for your encouragement, and ask you to think deeply and reflectively upon it's simplicity, and it's wisdom. See if you are obeying it's advice. It simply beckons to you to “keep moving.”