Kingdom Principle: The Kingdom is a constantly in motion.
Jesus was not busy, but he was in business. To be in the flow of the Kingdom is to move with God.
|Acts 16:9-15||Psalm 67||Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5||John 14:23-29|
Most people are trying to get all they can out of their time and energy. However humanity is restricted by the number of hours in a day, and if we don’t recharge our “batteries” we end up sick or just flat out exhausted. When people continue to push themselves to do more, accomplish more, and to get it all done – they end up running themselves into the ground or simply being a “busy bee”. Sure they look important and they are constantly involved in the most important things imaginable. But at the end of the day, how will God answer the question, “Did it really matter?”. The only true test of did it matter is to not do something and to see if it was missed. The question has been posed to churches, “If your church was to close, and no longer exist, who would miss you?” This sobering question forces a church to look at its impact beyond the walls and see if it is serving the community in love. However ask the same church, “What is keeping you busy?”– the laundry list of programs and activities will be unbelievable, and rarely is there an end in sight. So much of life has become simply moving from one project to the next to the next to the next…. This will set up the contrast between being in the flow and being busy. God sets the flow, and is never busy. When we are in the flow we enjoy the sweetness of honey on our lips.
Our culture has given us the allusion that busy is better. If someone is not busy, they must not be doing a good job. If there is no wait for a service the service must be sub-par. So we have adopted this same approach to our lives – Be Busy or you must be wasting your time or you simply are a waste of time. Yet God is not busy, so why are we? In fact God is calling us to be still,(Psalm 46:10)and to come to the quiet still waters to be refreshed and to hear from him. (Psalm 1 & 23) How can we be still and still get it all done? You can’t and that is why you must learn to flow, which means not always doing it all.
If you are floating down a rushing river as a speed of 40 miles an hour, how fast are you moving… the answer is at least 40 miles an hour…. But how hard are you working to move that fast – Your not – if you are in the flow. Yet, if you are in a river flowing at 4 miles an hour, but you are moving up stream at 2 miles an hour – you are working tremendously hard, yet advancing at a negative pace…. There are many in this world who feel like they are doing everything they can do to simply stay afloat, but still feel like they are drowning. (refer back to last week’s drowning questions) God’s flow is not as simple as a river float – the reality is that being in the flow might mean working to get out of the river before you go over the falls. Flow is very similar to Favor. Favor is given by God but it is often experienced from others to you. If someone throws you a rope line from the river bank, and pulls you out when God say’s “it’s time to get out”, you have experienced favor. Flow is given by God, but it is the power or wind beneath your wings that keeps you going forward. When you are floating down the river and someone else is running alongside just to keep up – you are in the flow. We often see flow in relation to our Time.
This week in the Scriptures, highlight flow. The Flow is from God, to his peoples, and then back to God. This circuit is much like the energy flow of power. When the circuit is broken, the flow is disrupted and regardless of the power source… without a complete circuit the light bulb just won’t go on. We know we are in the flow of God when our light is shining and we are not the power source. (Matt 5:14-16) We are the power source when it is our efforts and people are praising us for the good that results from the efforts. We see a complete circuit in Psalm 67 and perfect flow of power in Acts 16. Further in Acts 16 the verses before the selection this week demonstrate Paul’s dependence to be in the flow of the Spirit, we can see, that when the wind blows, Paul adjusts his sails to flow the wind. This submission and obediencekeeps us in the flow.
By now some may be asking – How do I get in the flow? Paul demonstrates this clearly as well – the short answer is Prayer. But looking deeper – to be in the flow is to value what God values. Jesus made that clear last week – the answer is Love. God sends Paul on a great missionary journey across the sea to the land of Macedonia – and there – Paul leaves the city and heads to a prayer gathering by a river. Why does Paul have time to wonder across the land to talk with a woman who worships a God that she does not truly even know? Because time is irrelevant to Paul; as is his power or proximity. What is relevant is being at the very place that God has called him to be at that very moment. Jesus teaches the disciples this in John 14 – he has to leave, because that is the flow that the Father as set before him. If the disciples understood this – they would rejoice, but instead they mourn and are filled with fear. To this Jesus reminds them that he will give to them and Advocate to teach them the flow of the Father – the Holy Spirit.
The Gift of the Holy Spirit is the ultimate flow indicator… the best analogy in my opinion to understand the flow of the Holy Spirit is wind or breathe… but flowing water is often used as well. The breathe or wind of the Holy Spirit is not seen directly rather as it is the effect on other things that is seen – like the wind blowing the leaves of a tree, or the wind filling the sails of a ship. The ship captain can use the wind to direct the ship, if the sails are set correctly, but if the ship desires to go against the wind there is no hope in that motivation.
In the Revelation passage, we see the culmination of God’s flow in all things. The water flows from the throne and brings life and healing to all whom are at the river banks. All who gather there will see the face of God and not only live, but be radiant in His Presence. Being busy requires you to be about own business, being in the flow is to be about the Father’s business. (John 4:34, 5:36, 15:15) Eugene Peterson captures the impact of being busy in his book Contemplative Pastor – “the adjective busy set as a modifier to pastor should sound to our ears like adulterous to characterize wife or embezzling to describe banker.” Further when we justify our busy schedules as work FOR the Lord, we have missed the flow of being WITH God.
Final thoughts on Flow – (these come from the lens positive psychology perspective but are substantiated by Scripture) Being in the flow is not meant to be easy – in fact true flow is discovered where the greatest challenges in your life are matched with the rise of your greatest skills and abilities are being fully utilized. Meaning if you are looking for the easy way out – where there is low challenge and it requires low skill, the result will be apathy & boredom. But simply having high challenge with low skill will result in worry or anxiety. (Here you can substitute skill for authority cross reference this thought with the concepts of 3 weeks ago) Finally if you have low challenge, but great skill – while you may enjoy relaxation, you will miss the gratification of being in the flow. You can see this as a grid here.
In Summary – Flow is the movement of power from the throne of God to all of creation. Being in the flow is to best summarized in Acts 17:28 “In him we move and have our being….” According to Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, (one of the author’s of positive psychology) flow is completely focused motivation. You can see that as we live into our IAM we must discover flow or we will simply be doing good works on our own.
To increase your awareness of Flow:
1. Stop doing something and measure the impact it has on everything else. I have often reminded myself and others – you are more defined by what you say No to, that what you say Yes too.
2. Ask God before you do something… BUT more importantly wait for the answer. Do this through the practice of have conversations with God. We practiced this via our activity this last Sunday. In short – take two color pens, and have a conversation with God, ask Him questions in one color, then write his answer in another. Don’t worry about the content, just begin to build the practice… you may need help with this at first – if so – We let me know – we can even do this on-line together.
3. Increase the size of your spirit’s sail…. Meaning as your spirit grows through prayer and spiritual disciplines you will be more apt to know when the wind shifts directions. This will help you release control and go with the flow.