Guest Post: "Mostly Somewhere Else"

This guest post comes from Rev. Steve Neal, a fellow American Baptist pastor.

Guest posts are for the purpose of sparking discussion and hearing from diverse viewpoints on topics that interest me, and do not necessarily reflect my own views.


A disciple asked her teacher, "Where shall I look for enlightenment?"
“Here,” said the teacher. 
"When will it happen?"
“It is happening now,” the teacher said.
"Then why don’t I experience it?"
“Because you do not look,” said the teacher. 
"What should I look for?"
“Nothing,” the teacher said, “Just look.” 
"At what?"
“Anything your eyes light upon,” the teacher said. 
"Must I look in a special kind of way?"
“No,” the teacher said, “The ordinary way will do.”
"But don’t I always look in the ordinary way?"
“No,” said the teacher, “You don’t.” 
“Well, why not,” the disciple asked. 
“Because to look you must be here,” the teacher said. “You’re mostly somewhere else.”

One morning, as I headed for the church building, I was mostly somewhere else. You know what I’m talking about; my mind was racing through all the stuff I needed to do that day. I was rehearsing the day’s schedule in my mind. I had my morning all planned out because my afternoon was already full. I was ready to get busy and get my list of things done. As I made my way across the yard to the church building, I noticed a blanket-covered lump lying on the front steps of the church. My first thought was, "I don’t have time for this, not this morning." I was tempted to back away - slip into the back door of the church - and hope the lump disappeared.  But, my second thought was, "You can’t do that! This is what you do! This is what you’re about!" So I stepped in closer and said, “Hello?” And the lump moved. And a muffled voice answered. And the adventure began....

In the 33rd chapter of Exodus, Moses asks God a most audacious thing. He says, "Show me Your glory, I pray." In this passage, Moses prays for three different things:  he prays to be shown God’s ways, he prays to experience God’s presence, and he prays to see God’s glory - God’s very essence! And after each request, God answers, “I will...” Moses’ desire was to be shown God’s way. It was his desire to experience God’s presence. It was his desire to see God’s glory. What's your desire? Are you here, or are you mostly somewhere else?

...a muffled voice answered and a scraggly-bearded, wild-haired man emerged from the blankets. He said, “Are you the pastor here?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Someone told me you were friendly.” I said, “Well, I try to be....” I asked if he’d like some coffee and we went into the building and the coffee began to brew as I scrounged up something for breakfast. As we sat there, he began to tell me about his relationship with Jesus Christ. He expressed his desire for revival. He expressed his concern for our neighborhood. He said, “If I was here, I would see every house as a soul in need of Jesus Christ!" He reminded me that we aren’t battling against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of darkness. He said, “You've got pray a hedge of protection around this place and you’ve got to tell Satan, ‘No! You can’t have these souls!’” Now, not all his talk was that clear. At times I thought to myself, "This guy is pretty strange." And a still small voice would say, "Yeah, a lot of people thought John the Baptist was strange." I thought, "I don’t understand half of what this guy is saying." And that still small voice would say, "Well, a lot of people didn’t understand half of what Jesus was saying."

His name was Duffy - Brother Duffy. He was trying to get to Denver. He’d been all over the country in the last 20 years - living on the streets, passing out tracts, and telling people about Jesus. He asked if I could take him to the edge of town where it would be a little easier to catch a ride.  So we piled into my truck and started out. Along the way we continued to talk. When we were almost there he reached out and placed his hand on my shoulder, and he began to pray. When he began to pray, I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit fill the cab of that pickup. He prayed for my protection. He prayed that people in the area could be released from the bonds of Satan. He prayed and prayed and prayed! He prayed like Jesus was right there with him. I pulled in and parked and he continued you pray. When he finished, I placed my hand on his head and blessed him. I prayed for his protection. I finished praying and we reached out to one another and hugged one another. As he got out of the truck he turned and said, “I love you.” I said, “I love you too,” and he walked away. My morning was gone, but you know what?  I had been shown God’s way. I had experienced God’s presence. I had seen God’s glory!

A Pastor friend from the Ukraine gave me a little card, with a picture of a fishbowl, and a gold fish jumping out of the water. I translated the Russian caption. It said, "If you want to see something you’ve never seen, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done!" Let me ask you: Do you want to be shown God’s way? Do you want to experience God’s power? Do you want to see God’s glory? Then do something you may have never done...just look! The ordinary way will do! Be here, in the moment, instead of mostly somewhere else.


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