An email exchange yesterday brought to mind one of my favorite podcasts from The God Journey, about the critical things God seems to need to help shape our lives as vessels of his love and care. These come from Tom Mohn, a dear friend of mine from Tulsa, OK. I don’t think God has to orchestrate these things, they just seem to come out of this broken world and the passions of our own flesh. But these are the life experiences that can help shape our hearts if we let Jesus bring his love to us in the midst of them.
The first is the only good one of the bunch. According to Tom we need a good, solid success that affirms to us that God is working in our lives and that we are learning to be fruitful in his kingdom. Without that we seem to struggle to perform out of our own insecurities.
The second is a massive dose of failure where we get caught up in something so totally wrong, or with the wrong attitude, or with an irresponsible arrogant judgment against someone that gets exposed. There we’ll learn the power of his forgiveness and learn not to put any confidence in our own wisdom or flesh.
The third is that we each need to be involved with a significant heresy—to believe something with all of our heart that turns out to be completely wrong. When we find God’s love there we will never be tempted again to force any of our views down someone else’s throat. We’ll be able to walk in truth without arrogance and treat others, especially those who disagree with us, with gentleness.
Finally, according to Tom, we need an intimate betrayal, where someone so close to our heart turns on us in a way that causes hurt at a level we cannot put into words. When God’s love touches us there we will come to know the fellowship of his sufferings, which will give us compassion for the broken and will never be tempted to betray anyone else for the rest of our lives.
Obviously these are things we cannot fulfill on our own. I’m not even suggesting you go out looking for a massive dose of failure, a powerful heresy to embrace, or even someone to betray you. But if you’ve known failure, advocated some theological view you later found out to be wrong, or have been betrayed by someone you love deeply, realize that this is excellent ground for God to do some of his best work in you. Those things don’t have to destroy you; they can draw you into a better space with God that will help you find real fruitfulness for the remainder of your journey.
We seem to think God only uses the good things in our lives, when we made the right choice or laid down our lives at some critial juncture. Tom takes a different perspective at the kind of things we need in our lives to help us come to a place of freedom and humility that let’s God’s life shine out of ours…
If you want to hear the original podcast you can use the link here to the The Things God Uses. It was only the fourth podcast we ever did and we were just finding our way, but the insights in this podcast have come up over and over again in my life and in my conversations with others. Also Tom is coming out with a book about his journey that seems to make him the Forrest Gump of evangelicalism, crossing paths with Martin Luther King, Jr., Oral Robers, and Gene Edwards among others. I’ve read it and it’s wonderful. I will let you know about it when it is published. Until then you can check out his website here.