What makes for an ‘orphan spirit’?
The longing gnawed away at certainty; dissatisfaction and the cry for something more unsettled the conviction that God is who He says He is; ripping my confidence to shreds faith waived under the weight of questioning what I had always believed. At a conference I lay on the floor of my bedroom in a plush hotel in Neutral Bay Sydney in 1970 pouring my heart out to God after years of Christian service. Then I blurted out the unthinkable that had been burbling around inside; it merely came out against all the inhibitions of my Pentecostal and evangelical upbringing, that simply you didn’t express such blasphemies. I said, “God if there is a God, if this is all there is I don’t want it!” I paused as the pain, unbearable tears in flood flowed down my face
For many years I served God in the ‘local’ church. I was youth leader, ran a boys club, did street evangelism and assisted running a combined churches coffee shop, indulged in hospitality ministry, attended weekly tarrying (prayer) meetings, home cell Bible study groups, pastorally cared and counselled, ran youth camps & excursions. Yes I was an enthusiast par excellence. At the end of it God did two things to liberate me, a dream and and a prophetic word.
During a YWAM DTS in Canberra, through much soul searching and jettisoning preconceived notions of what it meant to be Christian, the dream happened vividly, unexpected and at the time unwanted. It broke my heart; grief tore me apart as I realised for twenty years my Father who had been there for me all the years of my life when I didn’t have an earthly father
I realised my works for God were predicated on two foundations, I wanted God’s acceptance of who I was and I wanted to belong to a community of people who were fellow believers. The first took me down a way where the church said if you are a Christian these are the things you do.
The ‘orphaned spirit’ is when we have been welcomed into the household of God, where we have come home to Him, where we are His sons and daughters, His Spirit is in us (that means Christ within) but we know Him not and we act like urchins in the street begging bread from a Father who has given us all we need.
Therefore we believe God is Father but we are disconnected from Him. We belong to Him but we become self sufficient, independent and removed from His presence acting like Father does not exist or He does not care how we live life. The consequence is being vulnerable to all the winds and storms of life where we are easily moved further away from Him; Father becomes lost because we have removed ourselves from His Presence by following our own way, deadening the pain of our separation by our over-performance and belief what we do is vital to existing on this planet.
Today, the ‘orphan spirit’ is rampant in the church. We know not we have moved away from Him in the busyness of life until we cry in frustration, “God where are you?” The answer is not in our constant doing even for Him but in our constant leaning on His breast, enjoying being with Him; then our doing comes from a difference source from within us, as with Jesus; our love and affection for Him who loves us. Then all else falls away because we desire to do only what the Father is doing.
Much can be said about our over-doing that attempts to kill the pain of our disillusionment and frustration with our Father and what He is supposed to do in response to ‘our work’ for Him. A YWAM colleague Paul Hawkins, the former International Dean of YWAM’s University of Nations School of education once stated to me that he believed 90% of ‘Christians’ are angry with God. Paul’s reasoning after many years of international ministry led him to believe that prayer and the devoted heart were foreign because they knew not the God they said they believed in because they had toxic notions of who God was, is and always will be. Therefore it was too painful to be close to Him who caused their inner pain. I agree with this prognosis (I don’t know about the percentage but I do know there are the vast majority who have a wrong theology of God and therefore are disillusioned – including and especially most of the hundreds of clergy I know)
However as a pastoral colleague in Townsville so wisely spoke in the ministers and leaders weekly prayer gathering, “The next move of God is being close to Him.” I believe God is about to heal our wrong beliefs and hence our illegitimate practices (doings).
Wonderfully He is only a call away because He is within us; often He is relegated to the backrooms of our inner being until we need Him. Faithfully He waits and works to bring us to Himself. He awaits for us to humbly ‘Come’, turn into His Presence as we repent, confess our sins of pride, arrogance, independence, self sufficiency etc., turn from our way, listen to His healing words and abide in Him (John 15:1 -11). So many impale themselves on the Hard Taskmaster of serving obedience to what they interpret as His dictates (demands) that they can’t come to Him because they don’t want more of the same. The deception comes from the work of hell that ever attempts to drive us from being close to Him, because there we come to know Him and then to trust Him.
The orphans are about to find out that Father has ‘never left them’. He has always been there waiting and working towards drawing us ever into His heart and His ways. The fatherless are about to find their Father again!