Yesterday I went to a funeral in San Remo. I went because my friend, Nina, told me that I should go. When I pointed out that I hadn’t known him, she pointed out the obvious thing that I was missing in my momentary selfishness: it’s not for him, but for his family, and particularly for his daughter, who is a good friend. I hadn’t wanted to go because I knew that it would be an entire day devoted to getting there, a funeral that’s probably a couple of hours, and coming back. During the brief time between mission trips, I have plenty of things to do: catch up on my bookkeeping tasks, laundry and other housekeeping chores, and catching up with friends here in Milan and with my correspondence. But, of course, Nina was right, so I chose the better thing, which was to go and be there for my friend.
This morning I went to the prayer group at church. It’s an hour by bus across town, so I was praying. I began to feel a deep longing and desperation in my spirit for more of God. It is true that I have surrendered everything to Him, and that I live for Him, but honestly, sometimes it feels like I’m just playing around at Christianity. The issue that keeps coming up for me lately is living in God’s supernatural power. Deep within me I keep feeling that God hasn’t called me to live an ordinary life of going to church, praying for friends and hoping that they’re helped, and just going through the motions—an imitation of Christianity: Christianity lite. There is a conviction in my heart that we are supposed to be living a life that is truly extraordinary. This crazy belief comes from the Bible. Only non-believers lived ordinary lives throughout all the Bible. And in the New Testament, the extraordinary became even more “normal” for Christians.
I think everything changed when the Church became legal and institutionalized. But even since then there have been some Christians who have lived extraordinary lives full of the supernatural power of God. I had wondered if it was wrong to want more of the spiritual gifts (see “Laughing in My Dreams,” chapter 2, The Table). God told me that the spiritual gifts are really just more of Him. So this morning, I was praying on the bus for more of God. The more I prayed, the more desperate I felt. But I also began to know that this is what God wants for me, too.
I don’t just want more of God so that I can show a mighty display of His power to the world (although that would be really cool!). I want it for the Body of Christ, for His Church around the world. If we don’t operate above the level of the world, why on earth would non-believers want to become Christian? If we suffer sickness, depression, doubts, lack, and fears just like the rest of the world, then what have we got to offer them? If all this is just for the sweet by-and-by, but not for today, why bother? But we are called to be different—vastly different—than the world. They should hold their breath when we enter the room, watching and wondering what we’re going to do next: miraculous healing, prophecy, raise the dead? They are limited by the natural laws, but we are not, or at least, we shouldn’t be.
I can’t help but be drawn by the contrast of a funeral and a living hope. It’s in the darkness that the light shines the brightest. We are in this world, but we need to shake ourselves loose of its fetters that keep us from living the extraordinary life we were made to live.
All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. Romans 8:22-23, The Message
Yes, that’s what it is that I have been feeling today: birth pangs for the restoration of what we are truly meant to be living. And let me tell you, there’s nothing like birth pangs to send you to your knees in prayer! God is good!