There’s a theme that keeps coming round. It appears to circle overhead like a bird looking for a place to land. I’ve noticed it come round a couple of times within the last year. This is the theme; we should go outside to meet Jesus. I’m not talking about out of the house. I’m talking about going out beyond our normal boundaries, our familiar place, the systems and cultures we know. Look at Hebrews 11:13-15. Here it is in New King James version; the accents are mine.
11 . . . the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. 15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name . . .
The Lord God asking his people to go ‘outside’, to step away from what they know in order to go where he desires, is part and parcel of being his chosen people. Consider these prominent characters.
Abraham, the father of faith, was asked by the Lord God to go ‘outside’. The Lord challenged him to leave his home and go to a land he did not know. He went outside the region he knew—left his country and his family and ‘his father’s house’—and lived in tents as he went around the land of promise. Also, he began this journey at 75 years of age. You know the rest of the story.
The Lord required Moses to step ‘outside', also. Moses’ stepping outside meant he left his position in the Pharaoh’s court, left his home country, traveled across the barren Sinai, started a new career as a shepherd, became the son-in-law of a Midianite Priest, . . . . But out there, Moses received his call, commission, and the gifts needed to go back to lead a nation of slaves to freedom. He became the instrument God needed for that time. All this came through going ‘outside’.
Even David was an ‘outsider' when he fled from King Saul. His own king, whom he served faithfully, pursued him to destroy him. David fled to the wilderness areas, lived in remote wastes and neighboring countries, made confederacies with enemies, and in the process attracted and forged a band of “mighty men”. When the time was right, the Lord brought him from there to be king of Israel. David possessed character, talent, abilities, and already had been anointed king before going ‘outside'. He became a leader as an ‘outsider’.
Many of us have gone outside in our lives of faith. We didn’t fit within the structure the church enforced. We didn’t look like the rest of that ‘inside’ culture. We didn’t embrace the rules as interpreted by ‘leaders’. Each story differs. After stepping ‘outside’ we saw the Lord working there. We made new lives and learned ways and means unimagined before we left the ‘safety’ of the group. What did the Lord desire for us to do with these skills? Why did we follow him ‘outside’?
Being ‘outside’ requires different equipment and mindset. When you go ‘outside' you need the clothing, the tools, the things that make being outside a successful experience. Street shoes and heels won’t work well on a rough pathway covering miles. It is one thing to tootle around town; totally different to go outside and face those conditions. There is also a change in mindset that makes this work. Out in the open, vulnerability is the norm so one must be watchful; different obstacles arise thus the need for self-reliance; and often finding provision requires resourcefulness and the ability to find supply. Being outside requires different skills from inside. Survival depends on the knowledge, skill, and equipment appropriate to that situation. Whole new identities come from this kind of experience.
What if we are about to go ‘outside’ again? Look to him and follow his lead. This is really what we all want and ultimately need--His presence, His person, His reality lived through us. That is what will make this time truly glorious—Him. If the Lord calls us outside, then that is the best place for us. There is no substitute for obedience. Why stay inside when the Lord is out there doing the great stuff?
I want to see His Kingdom come. I want to know the fullness of all His promises. I want to walk by faith, live in the Spirit of his resurrection, and be the manifestation of his glory here and now. The Lord lived that life and wants us to follow. For Jesus it led to the cross and the sacrifice of his life—outside. If that is the way forward, can I go that path? Can you? Will we, when the opportunity opens? Pay attention the next time that ‘bird’ overhead comes around. It may be time to go out to meet the Lord.