Pour Yourself Out (ANTS Commencement Address 2013)

In Joel 2, there is a prophecy that there will be a time when God would pour out God’s own Spirit on all flesh.  And it says that when that day comes:

“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:

In Acts 2, Peter and the disciples declared that on Pentecost that prophesied day had come.  God had poured out God’s Spirit on ALL FLESH.  So what does that mean?  In my summation it is God’s proclamation that we are ALL God’s children. Our context has changed.  Perhaps there was some point where we might have claimed that we were other than God’s children.  But now that time is over.  We are now surely all God’s children and it’s time to start living like a family.  That’s what the first believers did.  They opened their hearts to one another and became as family.  They entered into relationship with one another and they stuck together encouraging each other in their destiny toward Godliness.  As Paul put it in Ephesians 5, they became imitators of God as dear children–walking in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

So what does it mean to be an imitator of God as dear children?  Well to me it means pouring ourselves out as God pours God’s self out.  Reaching to God as God reaches to us.  Giving ourselves away.  Is it easy?  I want to say yes, but I have witnessed so many people profess otherwise, that the only honest answer I can say is that I do not know.  Is it possible?  Most definitely.  Can anyone do it?  Certainly.  Even before the day of Pentecost the Hebrew Bible tells numerous stories of people pouring themselves out before God.  Some of these people complained to God.  Some argued with God. Some walked with God as a friend and posed questions to God. Regardless they acknowledged God and did not hide themselves from God or from others–warts and all.  They poured themselves out.

There’s this one story of this woman Hannah who was so depressed because she couldn’t have a child.  In her sadness, she poured herself out to God.  She wasn’t concerned about how people took it.  In her pouring out she was seen by this priest dude named Eli.  When he saw her moving her lips with no sound coming out (she had poured herself empty before God), Eli walked up to her and they had the following exchange:

Eli asked,  “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!”

But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.“Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman,for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.”

Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.”

And she said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. (see 1 Samuel 1)

As I mentioned in the video and as it says in Acts 2, those people who received the Spirit of God appeared drunk to others too.  They were inebriated with the jubilation that comes from knowing that they have been fully accepted.  In their case they were conscious that God had not only received them, but actually poured out God’s fullness upon them. As it was prayed later in Ephesians 3, they were filled with all of the fullness of God. Can you imagine such a reality?  If everyone knew they were filled with God, who could live from a spirit of loss?  Who would be afraid to pour themselves out?  These are the questions I am living with as I try to pour myself out.  Now I leave you with the question that Tom Cruise asked in Jerry Maguire:

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