My friend Pat and I are fellow prophets. We function in the grace given by God in Ephesians 4:11 as prophets. And yet, we are by far different in our words, our demeanor and our process. Still we are great friends. Some years ago, another friend described us as Zechariah and Habakkuk.
A few months ago, I tabled the idea that we ought to pick a topic and write on it. Not talk to one another about it but write our thoughts out and share our sides, our thoughts and our voices. Finally we have done it!
The topic? Alignment…
And with that I offer first Pat’s perspective and then mine. (And hopefully the Lord can tie it all together!)
Reinstating The Draft by Patrick Quade
We had a very unique gathering yesterday at the fellowship I am part of. We had “church in the round”, so to speak. Everyone who was there was invited to become an active participant in what God was saying and doing rather than just listening to one person speak. This was very exciting for me personally as I have always believed that format should be a significant portion of our fellowship gatherings. Silly me!
One of the references that was brought up repeatedly related to NASCAR racing and drafting in the context of community. The symbolism was not lost on me at all as I have been an avid (rabid?) NASCAR fan for 10 years now. I know many are not familiar with NASCAR racing, however, so I thought I’d try to give some explanation of drafting and how it may pertain to community. As I explain drafting I hope you will see some parallels on how this pertains to the church, different issues we have faced and how we have and can overcome.
In the 80’s NASCAR teams started to make great strides to produce the fastest cars possible because obviously having the fastest car goes a long way to winning races. There were not nearly as many regulations at that time so engineers and engine builders could be truly innovative toward fabricating a powerful engine and a fast race car. And this they did, achieving speeds in the mid to late 80’s of over 212 mph, which was Bill Elliott’s qualifying speed at Talladega in 1987. However, These speeds also produced some of the most horrific crashes the racing world had ever seen. One of the principle problems was that raw speed during qualifying – when a car was on track all by itself – was not a significant problem. Raw speed when there are 50 other cars on the track was a different matter. What the folks throughout NASCAR discovered is that it is hard to maneuver a car at high speed around another car going much slower (not all teams had the resources to produce a 212 mph car). Also, a group of high speed cars running near each other would affect each other and if the handling on one of the cars was off, just the aerodynamic interaction between cars could cause a loss of control resulting in an accident. And by accident I mean cars flying through the air, even into the grandstands! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wySxP-tWZQU
NASCAR’s solution was to install restrictor plates on all the cars. Restrictor plates limit the amount of air intake into the carburetor, thus slowing the cars down. By next year the qualifying speed at Talladega Superspeedway dropped below 200 mph and it remains there to this day.
But now all the competitive advantage many teams had was eliminated, bunching up the cars on the track so that they ran in big packs. No one could get out front and stretch out a lead. Having to look elsewhere for their competitive advantage, teams discovered and perfected the concept of drafting. Drivers learned that if they tucked up behind another car that they would benefit from the negative air pressure the lead car created at its back bumper. But the lead car also benefited because the trailing car would be able to push the lead car, increasing both their speeds. It was a symbiotic relationship – both cars benefited. Even further, any car that linked up behind a pair of drafting cars would be drawn into the draft and be able to run at the same speeds as the lead cars. The results was a pack of 40 cars just a couple feet off each others’ bumpers going close to 200 mph! Truly innovative drivers like Dale Earnhardt figured out the nuances of air low and car reaction in the draft and could almost pass at will, weaving in and out of the pack.
This type of racing, called restrictor plate racing, has been a part of NASCAR since 1987. There have been other rules, car design changes and such that have added nuances to the drafting format which I may discuss at a later time but the original concept still applies: in order for you to be competitive at all you must be able to draft and be a part of the pack.
The church must learn this concept if it is to not only move forward in these times but also to avoid huge wrecks that injure and kill both driver and fan. Here are some truths about drafting that are necessary to understand in order for the church to grow and function properly.
1. Any two cars in draft formation BENEFIT EQUALLY from that relationship. Many think the lead car does all the work and the trailing car gets all the benefit. If that were true, the lead car would be able to go 200+mph all by itself. What the lead car does is invite another car to follow it so that both benefit. Two cars in tandem can go 10-15 mph faster than either car by itself. So it is in the church. If you want to see your life and ministry progress, get behind someone who can lead and you will find that you both benefit. Here’s another aspect of this concept: sometimes a leader doesn’t know they are a leader until someone gets behind them and “pushes”!
2. In a tandem draft, some cars are better at “pulling” (being the lead car) and some are better at “pushing” (being the trailing car). For whatever reason, drivers find out through trial and error when they should lead and when they should follow. From my observation there is really no rhyme or reason to who pairs better with who. A Chevy from Team 1 may pull better paired with a Ford from Team 2 and push better when paired with a Toyota from Team 3. You would think all the cars from the same team would be equally able to work with one another in any type of arrangement but it doesn’t work like that. You may find you “pull” better when ministering with one person but you “push” better with another. And that person may not be a part of your team!
3. Tandem drafting is rare because everyone on the track links to form one huge pack where all the cars benefit. It is a normal occurrence to see 40+ cars in a drafting pack going 200 mph nose to tail. Nerve wracking? You bet, but no driver backs out of the draft over nerves. To do so is to forfeit any chance of winning. Even small underfunded teams are right there in the middle of the pack with the super teams! This is a picture of the universal church. Everyone is connected, maximizing men and machine.
4. You must find your place in the draft! To lose the draft is defeat! You have drafting partners all around you. The key is to align yourself with at least one car you can “pull” or “push”, where the relationship is mutually beneficial. In a typical restrictor plate race much of the first half of the race is all about this one concept: drivers want to find and align themselves with drafting partners so at the end of the race they can link up to form a winning combination.
There are many more details to drafting that will be beneficial for the church to grasp and activate but for now I believe its all about learning the basics of drafting and finding a suitable drafting partner. When you do you’ll find yourself accelerating into your future while bringing a whole lotta people along with you.
That was my friend Pat’s perspective and what a great one it is. I love his passion, his fervor and his desire to see His kingdom come.
Now I will share with you mine. Keep in mind, we never spoke. (And I wrote mine months ago.)
My friend and I are fellow prophets. We function in the grace given by God in Ephesians 4:11 as prophets. And yet, we are by far different in our words, our demeanor and our process. And yet we are great friends. Some years ago, we were described as Zechariah and Habakkuk.
A few weeks ago, I tabled the idea that we ought to pick a topic and write on it. Not talk to one another about it but write our thoughts out and share our sides, our thoughts and our voices.
Ironically, when I brought this thought forward, I said to my wife, “pick a topic”. While our wives and us stood there, she brought forth the word “spaghetti” not knowing why I asked. A few days later Pat, sent me a note saying the topic was “alignment”. I joked about “why not spaghetti” and he responded with I am sure you will get it in there.
Now spaghetti is anything but seemingly aligned and yet, it has a beginning and an end, though I am not sure how you tell the difference. Apparently beginning and end differ in this case from one’s perspective, but the fact of the matter is they start somewhere. It may be the end running to the beginning or the beginning moving to the end, but they in fact have two points, regardless of what you define them as. And there is something between them. It may bend and squiggle in its softened state or remain lineal “pre-hot water” but the points are there. They do not change.
Is that not what alignment is about? Coming from some place to a new place? Aligning oneself with something? If I am in alignment with my wife’s shopping strategy I may have begun in my own thought process and aligned myself with hers. I have started somewhere and I have ended up somewhere else.
As I think about alignment I think about things being straightened out. Coming into line. (Originally it was spelled aline… Makes more sense.)
In the Kingdom there is an alignment that does not always feel like it is straightened out. In fact it feels a little like softened spaghetti. A turn here, a twist there. But I will get to that in a moment.
Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed(aligned) by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The word align in itself is an unusual word. Why was it not spelled “a-line”? I am not sure but I did some digging into the word itself. It can be something that is straightened out or aligned. It can be a position of agreement or alliance. And the most interesting? Copulation between dogs or wolves. Hmmm. How does that get in there? (Side note-yesterday there was conversation about dogs nipping at your feet.)
Why do we need alignment? Is it even important?
I think so. Without alignment we encounter the drift that Paul speaks of in the scriptures. (Hebrews 2:1-4) We are not anchored to something. We float off. How important is that? In a small pond the drift of a degree or more makes little difference but on the ocean or a lake it can lead to disaster.
What are we to be in alignment with?
First and foremost… His word and His truth. If it does not align with what the word says (Guess what? You will need to learn the Word AND to be in relationship with Him to understand what He is saying and how it is meant.)then it is operating against His will and His word. Is sickness in alignment with His word? NO! Is evil in alignment with His word? NO!
Often the purpose of the New Testament prophetic voice to release the words of alignment (Or as the Old Testament speaks of, the plumb line or the thing that shows things to be straight or not.) Many times the prophet is seen to be the eyes of the body, but just as the natural eye can be tricked by what it records or views, translated by the brain into something else, perhaps the prophetic “eyes” can be too. I somehow perceive that if Jesus is the head of the church He has the eyes covered. (Not closed but taken care of!) In fact I believe we are more the digestive system, restoring the system to proper diet and proper balance. Bringing alignment to the system or to the body. Some see folks as spiritual “chiropractors” bringing alignment to the skeletal system and perhaps that is true as well. But when the natural body is alignment, all functions function better. So it is in the Kingdom and in His spiritual body. Let not the body be deceived by spiritual “optical illusions” but let us be centered on that which is God. Our relationship and knowledge of God cause us to see His character, His truth. When we understand that we recognize that which is out of alignment. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Words of aligning.
I saw these goats that were on this hill. The hill was very steep and yet they kept their balance. They were in alignment by balance. I then saw a gyroscope floating in the air. And no matter the wind, the current of the air, the gyroscope kept straight. There is a center of balance dictated by God. It “begins with us and it ends with God.” Or wait. Did we not begin with God and end with God? And yet, are there not two points? A beginning and an end?
Alignment is bringing things into line. Wherever that line may lead, there is connection in the spiritual AND natural world to God. (And is it not all SUPERNATURAL, as God spoke and it became…?)
The prophetic is to help you be aligned to God. Why? Because it takes where you are and cites the connection of God. It restores the balance.It removes some of the curves and the squiggles. It brings things into line, clarifying the connection to God. It has the ability point to what is “straight” and what is not? In the midst of your “hot water” circumstance, it declares the connection. In the midst of your “off the path” excursion it points to Him.
So, I thought about that additional definition of alignment. Copulation. God in me and me in God. From the word in Hebrew. Yadah. Now Adam knew (yadah) Eve. They made love. In Genesis 4 Eve says, “with the help of the Lord I have brought forth a son.” A man marries and becomes one with his wife. He is aligned with her. (Amos 3:3 “For how can two walk together unless they have agreed?”) Alignment is in agreement. In this case, agreement of love. Alignment is agreement with God. Therefore the knowing of God brings agreement and subsequently brings alignment. It fires the connection. And again from Latin, it means to anoint or to bedaub. Interesting. Yadah…connection…knowing…anointing…sex…life…ALIGNMENT. And alignment…it all began with God.
Now I have no idea what my friend Pat will share. But I look forward to it. Perhaps it will be the sauce for the pasta…
And so we come to the conclusion of two views on a single topic. Let us know your thoughts. You can use the comment section below. We would love to hear from you.