For fans of The Lord of the Rings, you will recognize “Ride out with me” as the appeal of the warrior Aragorn to king Theoden to take up arms against the forces of the evil lord Sauron.
Theoden is king of the people of Rohan who are known as skilled cavalrymen with agile and brave horses. As the enemy, bent on destroying Theoden’s kingdom, advances, he chooses to retreat and take his people to the safety and security of the fortified castle of Helm’s Deep rather than to “ride out and meet them” and lead his people and his warriors against the inevitable confrontation with evil. If you’re familiar with the story, you know that the enemy breaches the walls of the fortress and the people retreat further and further into the rock that the castle is built into. Finally, with nowhere else to go and the enemy battering down the last door, Theoden cries in desperation, “What can men do against such reckless hate?” Aragorn again responds, “Ride out with me.” This time the men mount their horses and charge the enemy, becoming the warriors they were always meant to be. Surprised, the enemy falters, reinforcements arrive, and the battle is won.
This story is presented in Neil Cole’s book Organic Church, which I read over the summer while leading the remnant of the Rock that was here in Fort Collins rather than on Infusion in Austin, Texas. God used that book to grow my desire to be involved in advancing the Kingdom throughout my life, and, in part, it became the inspiration to multiply the Nickell House Church (the Rock’s version of D-Teams) this past semester. I find the story above to be an astounding analogy of God’s vision for His people. The people of Rohan had a certain identity as elite warriors on horseback made for battle, not retreat. However, under Theoden’s leadership, they didn’t embrace that identity. They suffered greatly at the hands of the enemy before realizing what they were made for and, finally, gaining the victory.
I challenged my House Church this semester with this story, encouraging them that we would do well to not miss out on what we were made for, what we were born again for. We were born again to be people of faith, people with tremendous courage because of the might of their God; to be his children and let him be our Father; to be with him and to let Jesus live his life through us. Jesus described himself as the “light of the world” (John 8:12) and told us to be the same (Matthew 5:14). I felt that God was asking us not to settle for the comfort of the living room in which our House Church was meeting, but to ride out with Him on an adventure in faith.
It has been a very exciting semester for all of us, but from my vantage point I have been particularly thrilled by God’s goodness. I’ve witnessed how He paved the way for us. For many months, my co-leaders and I had been praying for the opportunity to multiply and he answered those prayers and many more related ones.
Here are a few of the ways God came through for us as we sought to multiply our House Church:
The first was in our leadership team. One of the challenges of multiplying was not having another man willing and ready to step into leadership. But since Faithwalkers of last year, I had watched God grow my very own brother into a man of increasing faith, and after returning from a very faith-filled summer in Austin, Cory was ready to let God use his life to lead a D-Team. God also provided two amazing ladies to replace the former female leaders on our team.
Secondly, God orchestrated the adventures and the structure for how our teams were to multiply. After reading Organic Church, God had laid the Alley Cat Café on my heart as a place full of college kids to outreach to, and I very much wanted to take a small group of people and begin having our House Church meetings there. So I had one dream to envision us with, but what about the other half of the team that wouldn’t be going to Alley Cat? I began asking God to give us a vision for the second half of our House Church.
He answered with two freshmen from Newsom Hall who joined our House Church at the beginning of the semester. I approached them with a plan to have the other half of our House Church meet in Newsom Hall, and asked them to play a big role as our point men in the dorms (something our team was severely lacking). They received the idea with enthusiasm, and so just after the Rock retreat in September, what was formerly one Nickell House Church became two Nickell-led task forces for the gospel: One meeting in the midst of the eclectic and often eccentric atmosphere of the Alley Cat Café, and the other right in the thick of things on campus in Newsom Hall! I could tell that God was leading by the overwhelming enthusiasm with which my team received the call to arms. I was fearful of backlash coming from separating close, godly relationships, but I found out that many of the team members were waiting for a new thing to trust God with.
Lastly, in a very personal way, God proved faithful. Toward the end of the summer, before much of what I described above took place, and when the dream seemed to wane in my prayers, God encouraged me with the message to “dream bigger wow” three times in one day. Perhaps it is a weakness of mine, but my engineering-trained mind is generally skeptical that God gives such direct personal “signs.” However, getting the same message three times in a day got my attention, especially when one of them was relayed through a completely random act of graffiti along a bike route I do not usually take. God backed up that literal sign in my quiet time with a verse, Ephesians 3:20: “[He] is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.”
God is on the move, and has blessed us with much fruit! I hope this spurs you on to “Ride out with Him” on a grand adventure of faith!