Faith and a Chinese Lantern

by Pastor Daryl Largis

 No one knows where or how the Holy Spirit (God’s wind) blows but are we willing to be carried along softly by it such that we are in the right place at the right time? Where is God’s gentle breeze carrying you today? Carrying us?  Are we willing to fill the sky with a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God and be the light for the world to see?  I think we can get a good picture of this on one hand in terms of observing Jesus while He walked on this earth.

 “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” (Hebrews 5:7 NIV)

It is clear Jesus prayed and offered petitions to God the Father even in the midst of great consternation knowing what was coming.  Even so, Jesus was faithful in prayer and radically obedient in terms of God’s will. In doing so, God was glorified and God’s Spirit was energized to action. This is unlike how we sometimes do not enable the power of the Spirit as Paul warns in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (NIV), “Do not quench the Spirit,” for it leads us.

 So, why do I say these things and is there a point?  There is in my mind based upon what happened to me at a recent birthday I celebrated. I was blessed to partake in a beautiful and thought-provoking activity whereby we lit and released several Chinese Lanterns.  These are the same now made famous from the movie Tangled.  They are fragile, beautiful, awe-inspiring and quite striking.  Lighting and releasing them in a still wind is one thing, but doing so in high winds is quite another. Nonetheless my family and I along with another family did so in higher winds—successfully I might add—recently off the main dock pier in Wilson, NY extending out into Lake Ontario.  We did this immediately following sunset.  As we lit each lantern we either sang a song or would say a prayer.  It was magnificent in how these lanterns once afloat in the air were gently carried by the wind out over the lake. It was quite moving. While I could say much more the whole thing reminded me of two things:  First was Jesus’ ministry while He walked the earth and the second is how God’s people need to pray.

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” (Hebrews 5:7 NIV)

Jesus offered prayers and petitions not just when He felt like it but diligently and fervently at all times. These lanterns reminded me of Jesus’ faithfulness while submitting to the will of the Father. We may have the discipline to offer prayers and petitions with diligence and passion, but are we willing to bend that emotion to obedience to what God wants?  Does this mean then that our prayers don’t matter—absolutely not!  We learn and grow when we do. God desires to hear from His own and steadfast prayer is one of the best ways we connect with God knowing in the end that it is His will, not yours, not mine, not anyone else’s, that will win the day.  The process is just as important as the outcome for in the process we come to learn much about ourselves but even more about God.

Our prayers in many ways are just like the Chinese lanterns, fragile, beautiful, but free in a sense, once released—they go where they will go guided if you will by an unseen yet unmistakable force.  Our lives, too, work in such ways when we yield fully to the direction of the Spirit.  God’s Spirit directs us in ways in which we can never fully predict or anticipate if we are willing and able.  Am I willing—are you willing to fervently pray for ourselves or for others in terms of their lives and release it to God and the ultimate guidance of God’s Spirit?  Easy question to ask and even understand but much harder to do especially if the stakes are high and the passion runs deep.  Jesus again becomes our model in how He lived in such ways. He prayed unlike no other but yet was fully released to the plans and purposes of God.

“[A]nd walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. . . . For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light” (Ephesians 5:2-3, 8 NIV).

So, my point in this blog is to encourage you and all with whom we partner, who by faith in Christ are now children of light. God’s purpose is to fill this world with this light. You and I carry that light and just as the wind carried those Chinese lanterns across the expanse known as Lake Ontario we, too, need to be willing to be carried along by the wind of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.  Furthermore, as we go we need to offer up prayers and petitions just like Jesus, for in doing so we remain close to God and thereby near His “wind” to be used by Him for His glory. Please don’t miss that the ability for us to be carried along by God’s Spirit to be best used by Him we must not only be obedient but also holy.  We are children of light because we carry the light of Christ in us.  Holiness enables us to keep in the flow if you will of the workings of the Spirit of God.

So, the question for us is to whether or not we are learning to be more submissive to God’s Spirit who is directly and gently guiding us through diligent and fervent prayer?  We should and my hope is that in the coming days you and I will pray more diligently, pray more fervently, AND in the end, submit to the gentle wisps and directing of His Spirit such that the world is filled with His Light in the manner He has deemed best.  Can you imagine a sky full of the prayers and petitions of all of God’s people fueled by a pure heart of submission being carried along by the Spirit of God?  This truly would be a dream come true especially if this was the case for those who call The Chapel home and its Kingdom Come partners.  Will you and I be faithful in making this so? I hope so.