Living In A Box.
This week’s blog begins with a couple of memories. I cannot think of exact dates but what took place remains intact within my mind. What I do know is that they took place about 12-15 years ago while many were pressing in here in Wales for revival and for a break out of the prophetic. The first took place in Antioch in Llanelli, a real haven for the wild and wonderful. Love the folk there and all they were prepared to stand for. Had some amazing times of encountering mind changing stuff there. One night one of the women Deb Chapman got up with a cardboard box and performed a prophetic act that was wild and stirring. She kicked that box so violently until the box was broken beyond use. As this was taking place she was declaring that no longer would she be put in a box. That the box was forever broken. The box of expectations, the past, where others wanted us to be, thinking. That we need to kick the box into touch and become free. I remember laughing with my wife Allison as we watched this take place. Laugh but in a deep crying out to deep way. It had, and continues to have, a profound effect upon me when I think about it. No longer desiring to live in a cardboard box. Wanting to break free from all the chains and bounds of people, religion, the past, church life, expectations, habits. Those beautiful people of Llanelli often challenged me to think beyond the normal. The second memory was a few years later and yet totally connected. I was standing with the wonderful people of Cardiff in prayer, support, love. Coming from the valleys this was seen as a prophetic statement as the valleys in history have been well raped by the capital. One event that took place was helping to host a conference with Kath Fathers where Chuck Pierce was one of the speakers. The night before the final day of sessions I was staying in Cardiff and although in bed I could hardly sleep as God poured some revelation into my heart concerning the city. The following day I fought about saying anything feeling the intimidation in what we saw as such esteemed company, and the intimidation of the city that often looked to silence the prophetic. Before the last session I finally gave in and released some stuff. Chuck then got up and took a clay pot from his bag. He said that God told him to break this pot in the U.K. when he witnessed something or someone who would break the mould. He believed this was the moment. He then started to smash the pot to smithereens. I remember James Fathers stepping out to help him. The pot was so broken no amount of super glue would fix it back together. The mould was broken for good. Another moment that becomes an event that was a time brought to remembrance regularly on the journey. The thing is these things get logged in the annals of our minds and then we seem to go back to normality trying to enforce a bit of change within the system or the church. The very box or clay pot that God was wanting to break open and free us from.
The People Cheered!
The strange thing is in these moments the crowd goes wild. The event, the conference, the hype all play a part in sweeping everyone along with whatever is taking place. The conference has always been the breeding ground for the exciting stuff to take place and then we go back to being boring when Sunday comes around. The church programme was never invented to being exciting, it was a place of commitment and things we had to do to be a community of believers. Yet people get excited and agree and cheer all sorts of stuff. On both of these occasions the crowd went wild for breaking out of boxes and clay pots. No one wanted to go back to normal or the status quo. Everyone was ready to talk the talk and long for a freedom beyond what they had ever experienced before. There was a no going back mentality. Then reality struck and submission to leaders and local church and doctrine and Christian practice. The religious would challenge and shout rebellion and challenge the trouble makers and thinkers. Many may have gave up one box only to trade it for another. Others sat down with the bits of the clay pot and some super-glue of love and started piecing it all back together. They discovered, as I did time and time again, that you could think and act outside the box as long as it was inside the box of the other person. You could smash the container of religion as long as you lived inside the clay pot of another person. I discover everyday that someone always wants to build a wall around you or hedge you in. They release you into captivity as long as you go chained to the gatepost. Think outside the box you are a heretic, act outside the box you need to submit to authority, walk outside the box and you need the safety of fellowship and the counsel of the wise. In reality we all end up trading one box for a bigger one. Just a bit of upgrade. The freer people can still go wild and support you, but there again are a new level of expectations and borders. I think the biggest enemy of a radical walk in Christ are people, even our closest friends. Like with Job they always have the counsel for every situation. A true friend like Jonathan with David, lets you walk in the wild when it costs everything, even when he may not fully understand.
There is a sense in which we may never fully escape boxes and clay pots. We have our own mindsets even after we have broken out of everyone else’s. But we have to stretch our thinking into aligning with God’s thinking for us, not what others see for us. Not in a ‘God told me to do this’ sort of way but by becoming the adventurer and pioneer God called us to be. I love living in a place where I even challenge my own perspectives on a daily basis. Rather than shake my faith it has made it stronger, more pliable, more solid. Thinking outside the box I find invigorating. What we think is doctrine was once just a thought that stretched others, now we need to stretch our thinking and discover that God even lives outside of doctrine. We need to start walking the uncharted territory, the dessert plains, the virgin unspoiled lands. Go so far out that we cannot even find our way back if we wanted to. Boldly go where no man has gone before. Burn the plough, leave the city, burn the bridges. It will not be popular or comfortable. There will be plenty of voices ready to pour cold water on the fire of excitement because although they cheered you on and wanted you to be free they did not mean that free. Although they wanted to see you think outside the box and live without the container they did not want you to think outside their box and live in a place so far outside the camp. What about fellowship, gathering together, submission? You’ve gone too far this time. It is time to get out of the comfort zone as long as they feel comfortable with where you are. As long as they can keep an eye on you. As long as you do not walk into error. You can go as long as we can reel you back in when we need you and want you.
Remember the toy Stretch Armstrong, stretch him as much as you like and then he will return to his normal size and position? That is the walk of so many. But I long to be a shape shifter constantly. I long to stretch beyond recognition. When people say I am not the same anymore I take that as a compliment. I want to wander the land with others that have broken moulds. Others that will challenge thinking and ideas. Not that I want to join their cast or box, but to constantly break my own. I thank God for people around me today that do such things, like Martin Scott, Mark Pixley, John Matthews, Andre Van de Merwe, Michael Creel, Shannon Byous Ruddy, Peter Rollins, Wayne Jacobsen, Dave Vaughan, Justin Abraham, Mark Neale, Dyfed Wyn Roberts and even Bono! There are many others too that challenge, provoke, ruffle, annoy, stir, comfort, love, break mindsets, smash moulds, kick boxes, break clay pots, walk and not just talk in the wild wanderings of life. I thank God for such people. I may not agree with all they stand in or walk through, but I certainly appreciate the spirit and adventure and inclusion they give as they themselves pursue nothing more or less than the wild goose trail. Daily I will take a boot to the box. Daily I will get my hammer to that pot to smash it beyond recognition. There is no going back. There is only today to live in, a day to walk beyond expectations and pressures and philosophies and traditions and religion and mindsets and doctrine. A day to walk with Him in the wilds and and discover a place that only He knew existed. That box you have for me is forever broken.