By Richard Gazowsky
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This past week was so intense that I really can’t find the proper words to describe it. John Francis, my friend and colleague, and the leader of the young prophets of our ministry, suddenly passed away with no warning. In many ways it was like an auto accident; one that hits you on the blindside and roughly violates your physical body, emotions, and mind. Death is just not gentle. And God wasn’t exactly preparing me for any of it. Yet I knew He was expecting me to go through it without any explanation.
Mark my words, the Lord was faithful. Every time I had to face John’s family members, my employees, and my congregation with answers, God always gave them to me right on time. Sometimes it was through a series of dreams, other times through fresh words that had just come into my mind. I can honestly say that in my forty-something years of being in the ministry, I’ve never had a week that hit me so hard personally. When they closed John’s casket I finally lost it. I broke into tears and wept in the arms of my wife and my mother.
Oh how exhausting such an experience can be on you physically! Yet it can also be transforming, because some of the cleaning God needed to do in my life and heart could only be done, by His skilled loving hands, in such moments of extreme vulnerability. It’s this level of vulnerability that changes priorities in our lives that have become permanent parts of our personalities. It’s at this time of crushing that even those parts are destroyed, and the Potter’s hand can begin to reform those previously-unchangeable habits. I would love to tell you that God can do the same thing for you, but I have absolutely no clue exactly what that would mean. Some things are so intimate and personal, it would be ridiculous to try to write a blog or a book about the subject. God has to do a personalized version for every Christian in order for it to truly apply.
God’s word over me has been simple: “It’s time to enter into My rest.” In the book of Romans, Paul defines this as taking on a project that is not only too big to accomplish, but actually impossible. In other words, only God has the power to do it, so we have to learn to rest in His abilities. In Hebrews 4, Paul defines this rest as being ever present and available to each of us ~ as long as we’re willing to enter into it. But what does this mean, practically, to us leaders?
As I mentioned earlier, it seemed as though the loss of my friend couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Our church is on the verge of some of the biggest decisions we’ve ever faced. We need all hands on deck to help us. Now suddenly, one of the most vital persons in our organization is gone. Wow! In this exact moment of vulnerability, and dramatic loss of a supporting key member, I realized I was still trusting in the arm of the flesh to determine the outcome of our future decisions. It was time for me to realize that with (or without) such key members on our staff, our position will always be the same ~ completely useless without the total help of God.
I’ve never realized it so much as today, as I sit in still silence and contemplate the future. Without Christ, everything, and I mean everything, is a total waste of time. It’s important that we learn to stand still and see God’s glory. Not only will He move and fix everything, but He’ll do a splendid job at it.
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Richard Gazowsky pastors a church in San Francisco called The Voice of Pentecost, and is also president of Christian WYSIWYG Filmworks. He has directed the films, “Guardians” and “The Roman Trilogy.”