By Craig Groeschel
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. —John 12:24
At the ripe old age of 27, I felt called by God to start a new church. My wife, Amy, shared my vision, so we dreamed together and moved forward with a plan. We chose a name for our new church and filed the paperwork. We recruited friends who had already expressed interest in joining us and printed invitations for others we hoped to enlist as we got our new church off the ground.
To say that we were idealistic would be an understatement. With way more faith than wisdom, I envisioned how it would be. I’d preach powerful messages. The atmosphere would be electric, with vibrant worship and dynamic music. Crowds of people would gather. Lives would be changed. God would be honored. The city would be different. And we would live happily ever after.
With my plan clearly mapped out in my mind, I sat across the table at breakfast with one of my mentors, Gary Walter. Having helped many young church planters start thriving and life-giving churches, Gary was considered an expert. With fatherly concern and the wisdom of a spiritual veteran, he generously helped give me direction and perspective. When he asked about my plans, I barely touched my eggs and bacon as I boldly explained my vision.
But before I could convince Gary of how our little band of faithful people would grow into a worldwide movement, he stopped me mid-sentence. It wasn’t rude or abrupt—in fact, just the opposite. I’ll never forget the loving, fatherly, and pastoral tone of his voice as he gently asked if he could tell me something. As I nodded, he said, “I have one promise for you and one promise only.” Then he paused for an awkwardly long time, letting his statement sink in.
I leaned in, holding my breath, anticipating what he’d say next. One promise? If he had only one, then it had to be good. What was it? Maybe Gary would promise me that God would open the door for me to declare the good news of Jesus to thousands of people in countries around the world. That God would use me, use our church, to do more than I could ever imagine. That the world would be different and better because of our efforts through the church.
“My only promise for you is this: God will break you.”
Gary’s words, slow and deliberate and kind, crushed me with their weight.
I glared back. My expression likely displayed a mixture of betrayal and confusion. What do you mean? God will break me? What kind of promise is that? Why would God want to break me? What kind of mentor tells you that? And what kind of God would allow that to happen?
What happened in the next few minutes after that statement is a blur. I don’t remember if Gary continued talking. Or if I argued. Or if I just sat there and let his prophetic declaration shatter my bones. I just remember the stunned emotion of hearing those words. That was the last thing I wanted to hear. To believe. To happen. I mean, I was obeying God and doing what he wanted me to do, right? Shouldn’t the opposite be true? Shouldn’t God reward me or at least not try to break me?
In this encouraging and challenging 40-day series of devotionals drawn from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's writing, you'll learn how to live for Jesus no matter what the cost.
As much as I wanted to fight Gary’s observation, I knew what he said was true.
He didn’t burst my bubble—the truth did.
God would break me.
And, at least in theory, I would be better because of it.
If I survived.
Once I regained my stability, I remember Gary explaining why this was the path that I would have to travel. Gary quoted A. W. Tozer, who said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.” I remember thinking then what I think now: I’m not sure I like that idea. Did I even believe it? Is that the price I’d have to pay for God to use me greatly? Isn’t there an easier way?
Gary reminded me that God loved me. He always has my best interests in mind. But for me to be wholly useful to him, I’d have to be empty of myself. God would have to break me of pride, of self-confidence, of self-sufficiency. And God would also have to break me of things that I didn’t even know needed to be removed from my life.
If I wanted to be used by God for his glory, then there was no way around it.
I would have to surrender to God.
God would need to break me.
Taken from Dangerous Prayers: Because Following Jesus Was Never Meant to Be Safe by Craig Groeschel. Click here to learn more about this book.
Do you ever wonder, “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” Do you wish you could see the evidence that prayer changes lives? Are you tired of playing it safe with your faith? In Dangerous Prayers, New York Times bestselling author Craig Groeschel helps you unlock your greatest potential and tackle your greatest fears by praying stronger, more passionate prayers that lead you into a deeper faith.
Prayer moves the heart of God—but some prayers move Him more than others. He wants more for us than a tepid faith and half-hearted routines at the dinner table. He’s called you to a life of courage, not comfort.
This book will show you how to pray the prayers that search your soul, break your habits, and send you to pursue the calling God has for you. But be warned: if you’re fine with settling for what’s easy, or you’re OK with staying on the sidelines, this book isn’t for you. You’ll be challenged. You’ll be tested. You’ll be moved to take a long, hard look at your heart.
But you’ll be inspired, too.
You’ll be inspired to pray boldly. To pray powerfully. To pray with fire. You’ll see how you can trade ineffective prayers and lukewarm faith for raw, daring prayers that will push you to new levels of passion and fulfillment. You’ll discover the secret to overcome fears of loss, rejection, failure, and the unknown and welcome the blessings God has for you on the other side.
You’ll gain the courage it takes to pray dangerous prayers.
Craig Groeschel is a New York Times bestselling author and the founding and senior pastor of Life.Church, an innovative church meeting in multiple locations around the United States and one of the largest churches in the world. He is the author of several books and hosts the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. He is the Summit Champion for the Global Leadership Network, which reaches hundreds of thousands of leaders around the world annually. Craig and his wife, Amy, live in Oklahoma. Visit www.craiggroeschel.com to connect with Craig.
Want more? Sign up for the Zondervan Books Weekly and receive the PDF eBook Daily Power: The First 31 Days by Craig Groeschel, taken from Craig’s devotional Daily Power: 365 Days of Fuel for Your Soul.
With the Zondervan Books weekly email newsletter, you’ll enjoy helpful articles by inspiring Zondervan authors, sample new and upcoming books, and more. With your subscription, be prepared to find more incredible books for your reading list and/or audiobooks for your listening list.