Moving On

A long this path of ministry, God has used an approach over and over again that I’ve finally come to more readily expect. He has taught me to listen to the repetitive requests of the body of Christ, and I will often discover what He wants me to do. Case in point: I had no plan whatsoever to write women’s Bible studies. In fact, I was quite content teaching Sunday school, speaking at conferences, and teaching an interdenominational week day class. The latter gave me the time and opportunity to plunge deeper into the Word. I had no idea just how deep that particular class would insist we plunge.

After several years of giving weekly Bible lectures, several women in the class approached me and stated con fidently, “We want you to start writing homework for us.” To which I immediately responded with a more con fident, “No way under heaven. I can’t write homework.” I then suggested several other Bible studies they could attend that provided excellent homework assignments. They persisted in annoying me half to death. I’ve written, let’s see, about ten in-depth Bible studies since the day I finally caved in to the pressure.

Many of the major moves in my ministry have come the same way. In one way or another, God has used numbers of others to tell me through persistent requests what to do next. Certainly not every need or request constitutes a call, but sheer volume followed by God’s apparent affirmation has been a tremendously helpful guide. The concept makes plenty of sense if you think about it. If spiritual gifts are given to edify the body of Christ, and Scripture clearly says they are, then God often uses that same body to tell us what it needs from us is reasonable.

This book certainly constitutes such an approach of God’s leadership. Neither of the poetry/creative writing books, Things Pondered or Further Still, have been my idea. Frankly, others have needled me into them. I don’t mind. In fact, I’m so humbled by it I hardly know what to do. The problem is that I can’t figure out for the life of me why anyone would want these writings particularly since, in a volume like this, they aren’t surrounded by the orig inal environment they were written to reflect. We’ve all heard the term “location joke.” You know the kind. The story falls flat. Your face turns crimson and you mutter, “Well, I guess you had to be there.” I confess in advance that after every entry I fear I’ll need to mutter the same. But what can I say? You asked for it!And, so, because serving you is the absolute joy of my earthly existence, I’m handing it over.

If you weren’t one of those who asked for it, then I very likely could owe you an apology. Don’t worry. Apologizing comes pretty easy for me. I’ve spent much of my ministry apologizing to people for what appears to be a rather odd show of taste on the part of the One who called me. I have no idea why in this world God has risked His name on someone like me. I will never comprehend such grace and stubbornness of will to teach a woman with a penchant for ditches how to walk a higher path. Jesus Christ is the uncontested Champion of my life. He is the only good that dwells in me. I know He performs miracles because I am one. And if anything of my journey with Him could encourage you in yours, you are welcome to it.

So, welcome to this second volume of the ponderings (mutterings?) from a lesser woman. I want to thank my dear editor, Dale McCleskey, my friend Betsy Wedekind in Nashville, and the members of my staff who have con tributed a special element to this volume. They collected many of the stories, poems, and passages that readers have requested. Thank you, beloved coworkers. Now when someone in the body of Christ asks for this or that read ing out of one of the conferences or Bible studies, we will often be able to accommodate through one simple volume.

I invite you to join me in the pages to come as we reflect upon the glory of God and the wonder of everyday life with Him. Along the way we’ll visit some scenes from the lives of biblical figures who have become a few of my best friends. Admittedly, I don’t get out enough. Occasionally, I’ll invite you to eavesdrop on the Moores. Since I consider you one of my best friends too, let’s go as far as we can together, then at times I pray God will speak to you alone. You see, ultimately that’s the destination of this book: further still. The name comes from a study God gave me based on Christ in the garden of Gethsemane. Allow a few passages from Matthew’s Gospel to refresh your memory:

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and trobled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

(Matt. 26:36-39)

Life can be almost unbearable at times, can’t it? The one and only thing that has gotten me through my hard est times has been turning them into invitations to go fur ther still with God. “Going a little further,... “With few exceptions, the writings in this volume that will seem the deepest were drawn from the well of pain. Sometimes our “further stills” come from the excruciating divine push to move from any hint of complacency into the brisk current of the river of God. I write this introduction to you on the second day of a new year. I just told God this morning that I want to keep going further with Him. I never want to grow stagnant or satisfied with my current knowledge of Christ. Beloved, there is so much more to Him and to the life He’s given us than we have yet discovered. So, with that in mind, let’s you and I go further still.

Further Still

In that lonely place

No friend can go

No brother can help

No loved one can know

I must crawl on

While you stay

Further Still

Just watch and pray

In that lonely place

The cup is fought

To sip the pain

Or choose my lot

To claim my rights

Or cast them down

To gain my loss

Or scorn my crown

Life pivots there

In Further Still

Face to the ground

Fighting His will

Can’t choose to return

The same who went

Once Further Still

The old is spent

So remember me

And stay close by

I’ll need you soon

Right by my side

And pray me back

Til He has won

And throat is parched

From “Yours be done!”