Welcome to the Book Journey of Overrated by Eugene Cho.
Have you read the book review and schedule for this book journey?
If not, you can find it here.
Chapter Four –Shut Up, Listen, and Pray
We live in the midst of busy and chaos and activity. We are consistently flooded with news and noise from media. Thus, in Chapter Four, Cho highlights the necessity of prayer and silence saying, “…look at what Jesus did. Even before He engaged in public ministry, He retreated to the desert for prayer, fasting, and solitude (see Matt 4:1-11).”
“If Jesus – the Son of God, our Messiah and Savior, fully God and fully man, perfect God and perfect man – needed to retreat to rest, solitude, and prayer, how much more do we as mere women and men need to engage in these gifts and disciplines regularly?” says Cho.
God’s will in God’s timing
Cho goes on to describe his and Minhee’s steps toward obeying God’s call to plant a church in the city of Seattle. They dreamed of an urban, multiethnic church, based on the words in Micah 6:8 (“act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with our God.”) Cho excitedly created a timeline and a manifesto in order to launch this vision into reality – an urban church named Quest. “I had outlined everything in a ‘one, two, three – bam, bam, bam!’ strategy. Instead of everything happening quickly, our ‘bam, bam, bam!’ became more of a ‘slam, slam, slam,'” admits Cho.
The process became confusing, frustrating, and prolonged in comparison to their original plan. Humbled and needing to pay bills, Cho began to search for a job – any job. He applied at fast-food restaurants and retail stores, but nothing materialized. In the meantime, Minhee was pregnant with their second child and due to give birth any day.
After about six months of job-searching and desperate praying, Cho came to the point of surrender and trust, aware of God’s presence. When their second baby, Trinity, was born a couple days later, Cho made a quick visit to the Barnes and Noble bookstore to purchase a photo album for the baby. While there, he ran into a friend from his former church, who offered him a job on the spot. The job was a custodian job for the bookstore through his friend’s custodial services company.
So, Cho found himself cleaning bathrooms, dusting, and vacuuming in early morning hours, day after day. “These humbling times also brought us moments of surprising grace and insight,” says Cho. “For example, this seasons brought me to WIC offices…in my previous years of being a pastor at a suburban church, topics of food stamps, WIC, or the poor never came up.”
“This season wasn’t just about a job or just about paying the bills,” says Cho. “It was about us learning to surrender and to trust God. It was about learning to be still before the Lord and seeking His voice and presence in our lives.”
This season ignited authentic prayer in Cho’s life – beyond the prayer expected from professional clergy. During those mornings of cleaning, Cho had silence and time to pray. He could have honest conversations with God that didn’t include religious jargon and pat Christian phrases. Further, he learned to listen to God well, to resist his inclination to run ahead of God, and to surrender.
Cho says, “we can go through times that seem like spiritual and emotional deserts. In the barren landscapes of those uncertain times, there’s often a prime opportunity to pause. There’s prime opportunity to pray and to listen for the voice of God speaking comfort and assurance through uncertainty.”
Often, a God-given vision takes time, patience, a breaking-down of our will, and a commissioning that only happens through pain and uncertainty. Along these lines, Cho writes, “my wish is that Christians, the church, and all those who are reading this book would take more time to listen, pray, and allow the injustices of the world to break us in lasting ways, as opposed to wanting to immediately make an impact.”
Here are some posts related to topics in this chapter.
- Hard days, they aren’t leaving us
- when it would be easier to just move on – Steadfast settles in
- Why Doing Missions is not the Goal
- Because Loneliness can be a blessing
- When You’re Wringing Your Hands in the Waiting
- When all you can bring is your empty
- MANIFESTO of a Nice-Enough, Well-Meaning Human
Remember, quotes from the book are posted daily on my Front Porch, Inspired Facebook page. Summaries and discussion questions for chapters 5 and 6 will be posted starting Friday, November 20.
NOTE: Chapter Three’s summary and discussion questions are included in a separate post.