by William Worrell
Great coaches know just how to draw the best out of their players. And there is not one person who has been involved with athletics that have not heard “Come on! You can do better than that. Put yourself in to it. Extend yourself!”
Well, we hear Father God speaking similar words over in Isaiah 54:2, “Enlarge the place of your tent extend the curtains of your dwelling, do not hold back, length your cords.”How can we tell if Father God did this himself? That’s easy! Just look over your head at the stars in the sky. When HE created the universe He made it so it keeps growing! That’s the mark of a master of leadership: They model what they want you to do!
And He expects us to extend our tent cords too! Yet before we go there a word on church history. Sadly, the church of the 21st century is really no better off than it was in century 1. Why? There is very little extending of tent pegs. Oh we grow from home meetings to portable churches and finally to a body with its own house we term a “church”. Yet here is the problem. Jesus command was very simple. It was for us to: GO! Into all the world…not to stay behind the walls of our fort and castle many term their ministry HQ. And many parishioners have been taught: invite and bring the people to church so they can be “saved”—and join the church. Many believers know it yet by their actions do not practice the fact that THEY are the church and not their steel and concrete structure. There is a phrase that is beginning to find its way around the Body of Christ. And that phrase is: The church without walls!
Shortly after the birthing of the original church, believers found themselves coming under persecution. Why? Our Lord’s command was for them to Go into all the world making disciples of nations. And their response? They decided to form the first mega church in the Jerusalem. Later, persecution came, and the people then gladly obeyed the command and went to all the world—translation, they ran. Yet the point is: The Gospel was taken to Jerusalem, then to Judea and to the outer most parts of the world.
And what of the 21st Century Church? Well, we are still grappling with the same hindrances that created the first mega-church: self and rebellion. You see, the order from on High was to “GO.” Not to camp out and settle down. The answer to go is to where. So, how can we fulfill our Lord’s command to “Go?” It doesn’t have to be to a foreign land or the next state. It can be going next door and engaging in relational evangelism. Extending the cords is basically going the extra mile. And how we do this varies with each one of us.
One friend in leadership was faced with a matter of growth. He had tried and attempted everything and they were still where they were: without growth. Finally, he excused himself and took a drive in his car. After driving awhile, he pulled over to a quiet place he frequented when faced with trials and weighty matters—such as he was facing. He paced and waited and finally said in a loud voice, “God I give up! I don’t know what to do!” And a peace flowed up from his stomach and he heard “Now we can do something.” And he had his answer and a plan of action.
Another friend, a nurse, was faced with a tumultuous night in her unit. Her nurses were nearly running. “Too many” patients and “too many” sick individuals…compounded by there not being enough nurses to handle everything. Finally, she took the time and got away someplace alone in the hospital. And upon finding privacy, she simply said, “God, I do so need help. And there is no help. And I do so need YOU!” And she began to sob. And a peace came upon her and a palpable knowledge: Everything’s going to be okay! And she took herself back to her Unit. And the peace began to multiply itself and spread to each nurse. And the patients had their needs met.
One time with myself, I had agreed to do a job fair. And one evening after church, I found myself sitting in the back of the sanctuary pondering “my situation”. Pastor Tim Lambert strolled up to me and said, “You give the appearance of a man not knowing what to do.” Up to that moment, I knew we had 50 employers coming. Yet Father God had just raised the number of employers HE wanted to 100. Pastor patted my shoulder and smiled…and walked off. I placed my head on the back of the pew and whispered, “Father where are they coming from?” And I had a peace swell up inside me. And I knew Father God had things under control. The day of the job fair we had 110 employers confirmed yet 100 showed up.
Everyone has their own way of dealing with extending their tent cords. Yet with most folks it seems to come down to acknowledging that we can’t do it and that we need His help and His action. Remember, the King of Glory lives in you. That makes you His Regent in your mountain. A regent is one who serves in place of the King. And the Lord Jesus told us we would do great things than He did. Everything the apostles did HINGED upon their obedience. Therefore, report for duty and extend those tent cords. Go make a difference!