There were 10 of us at the table so involved in the conversation we never left to go sit in the family room. Empty dessert plates and half-empty cups here and there, we sat with full hearts, heads bowed and eyes closed to pray.
A few hours before, with hugs and handshakes, four other pastor couples from nearby churches joined us in our home. Almost a year ago, I’m pretty sure I heard God tell me we needed to do this, to get together with the area pastors and their wives, to become friends and support one another. I procrastinated for no particular reason and then my husband, who met with the pastors to pray recently, helped get the ball rolling.
We all talked and laughed and talked some more. Interestingly enough, there was no talk of our churches but more about how we met our spouses, where we had lived and served, and our families. We discovered that like us, each couple at the table has at least one young adult/grown child, who chooses to not walk with God. Although we wish it wasn’t so, there was comfort in knowing we aren’t alone. We shared our kids’ names with each other so we can pray for them.
The hour was late and we were getting ready to part ways, but first a time of prayer.
As one of our friends prayed He praised God, overflowing with thankfulness, his voice becoming louder as he spoke his confidence in God’s love, the solid hope we all have in Christ. I had the sense that we each were praying not as pastors and leaders, but just as children needing their Father. Near the end of his prayer his voice became quiet and said, “Father God, we come before you knowing that You know what we need, you know what we really want…”
I was expecting him to plead with God to bring our loved ones back to Him, but instead, he said with tenderness, “What we really want, Father God, is more Jesus. We need more Jesus.”
I was taken aback, humbled. Of course, that should be what we really want. If only that was the first, the main, the loudest cry of my heart!
My husband and I are convicted lately by our Father God, our Papa, that we hope for, look to, and trust in so many things besides Jesus. We have let our focus become too wide so that it becomes noisy and distracting. That focus can spread so wide it includes focusing on ourselves, what we think and what we want. It’s easy to do unfortunately!
Our human hearts really want, whether we realize or acknowledge it or not, Jesus. What we need is Jesus. The answer is Jesus. Not Jesus + our ideas, not Jesus + our plans, not Jesus + church things, just Jesus. In Him is everything and everything good comes from Him. He is enough. He is more than enough.
It seems one thing we humans excel at is losing focus and getting side-tracked. John and I confess we have been, too. There’s a new, increasing desire to be re-centered, replanted, revived and restarted. It’s time for a tight focus. Like our friend said that night about his role as pastor, “I tell my people to follow me as I follow Christ.”
Can we lead our church family to join us in our aim to be completely centered in and passionately committed to Jesus, not church busy-ness, not tradition, not history, not programs, not personal preferences, not our own plans or dreams, but Jesus?
God can. Our part begins by humbling ourselves, letting go of perceived control in surrender, and praying, “God, Papa, you know what we really want: more Jesus. Give us more Jesus.”
Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ and to know that I belong to him. – Philippians 3:8-9
If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24