Humble Beginnings

Humble Beginnings

15 March 2006

During February we drove to Wellington very slowly; the trip took us 10 days. While in the Capital I preached for my good friend Senior Pastor Seth Fawcet at Hutt Christian Covenant Church. But sometimes the journey can be as interesting as our destination.

On this particular journey we stopped (albeit much too briefly) at my first spiritual home; Kopua Monastery. The Community (which is totally devoted to prayer) lies hidden in rolling countryside about 6 ks on the southern side (and halfway along) the main highway between Napier and Palmerston North. (Its website is listed here.)

From time-to-time I'm aware of people being bemused and even irritated by my love for the monastery, because I only spent 1 of my 56 years there. They miss the point that those people, places and experiences which the Lord Jesus makes foundational in us (our spiritual roots) forever loom larger than life. And that is exactly as He intends it to be. As long as we live, our spiritual foundations forever support and nourish and determine who we are in Him. (That's why discipling new Christians is so crucial !)

"For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Christ Jesus. Now if any man builds upon the foundation..." (1 Corinthians 3.11-12)

Great tragedies occur when gifted Christians (especially leaders) decide to be something other than what God in love planned for them to be. They are often motivated by lust for other men's spiritual success and status.

For me returning to Kopua is always haunting in a good and an uncomfortable way. But when it comes time to leave (to get back on the road), I always go blest having been resettled on my spiritual foundations.

On this visit Penny and I were both blest by a conversation in the Guesthouse with Father _____. When I lived in the monastery (1972-73) he was a monk to be respected; quite formidable. Now all these years later, here he is utterly abandoned to and spent on a life of prayer. In talking to him I was humbled by two things. Father ______ said that he felt he was now really getting focus-ed in a new way on his calling to live to pray. Completely unselfconscious humility. In watching him I felt I was really in the presence of a human being who has become prayer, along the lines of Psalm 109.4, "In return for my love they act as my accusers; But I am prayer."

As we begin this new season, it is salutary to be reminded of the difference between those matters which are merely extremely important, and those which are ultimate.

"Lord, teach us to pray..." (Luke 11.1)