Monday, October 19, 2009

Call me Jonah

Proverbs 13:21 – Evil pursueth sinners; but to the righteous good shall be repaid.

Oh, evil has pursued me for weeks. I knew what state I was in. And in the end, I had no excuse. So I won’t list them here. They are all wicked sin. It was the heavy hand of God upon me like Jonah (but unlike him I could not physically sleep for the evil upon me and the darkness of my heart). I am the cause of all this evil for I would not obey the Lord and stay awake. Instead I wanted to sleep in sin and convince myself that I was avoiding the pain.

Psalm 32:4, “For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.”

In all my study of the Word lately I had concluded that God does not hear the prayer of the wicked, nor does He talk to the wicked. (Proverbs 15:29) I thought that as a Christian, living in the flesh and its sin, was wicked. Hence my conclusion. Either I am wrong or else God is so merciful beyond even His Word. I cannot yet believe the latter for I do not believe that God would contradict Himself. Or else maybe the Words I read are not so absolute, not so universal as I thought, but organic only to the situation at hand. This brings into question all other sorts of organic situations to make me wonder about this question of universality versus singularity of application of God’s Word. It is worthy of more study.

But I cannot escape knowing with certainty that God’s Spirit continued to provoke me lovingly throughout this period. “Repent. Don’t give up. I am merciful.” He would say these things. Also, I did not forsake the daily reading of the Word. Often, though I would not want to see it, a verse would pierce me as the quick and powerful Word of God is intended to do. God not letting me go.

In turn I was more merciful to my own son this past week. He can be a handful with his Asperger’s syndrome combined with just being a little boy. The little had to be weighed more heavily that mercy might abound. No matter how badly he behaved at the pool, no matter what the report from mom at the end of the day, I just could not bring myself to be angry with him. His day by far was better than mine. And he was just having fun at the pool. In his own little world, he was just having fun, no matter how miserable he made everyone else around him feel.

I realized that as I looked out my hotel balcony towards the pool the day after he went home. I missed him so much. I wanted to look down and see him playing. Just having the innocent fun of a little boy who lives in his own world and seemingly cannot recognize any other.

Sinners are like that. We’re helpless. That’s why God had to first love us. That’s why His Spirit had to draw us to Himself. That’s why salvation is entirely of Him. That’s why repentance is also entirely from Him, a gift of God. That’s why I kept hearing Him tell me to repent. He wanted me back. He desires me to worship Him in Spirit and truth. He seeks such.

I had a hard time with that. “You repent,” He said, “and I make these problems go away.” He had done that before, many times in my life. I didn’t want to universalize this one. I did not deserve it. Why should He? Why would He?

But He did. I woke up the next morning after going to sleep in repentant prayer. The problems were fixed. By one o’clock in the afternoon they were cemented forever in the vault of no problems, no worries. The admiral had ordered it such. The problems were non-issues. Proceed with the mission.

God indeed can repay the righteous with good. I love Him.

This morning I woke up in prayer. What shall I do Lord in response to your goodness? I read in Isaiah 62:6-7, “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”

I could not keep silent about the good thing the Lord had done to me. He gave me a name. As soon as I left my room, there he was. Would I “be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand?” (Ephesians 6:13) Only in fearless obedience to “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,…” I prayed for him. And then I opened my mouth and proclaimed the goodness and praise of God.

Then after we departed I asked God, “What next? I want to do something more for you.”

Pray for him, that the good word you have spoken be not snatched from his ground (Matthew 13). I desire worship and you desire others to fellowship with you in truth and holiness. Continue the work of Ephesians 5:25-27 and I Corinthians 15:27. Be bold and persistent.

One of the shortcomings I have as a leader is my trust in people. I really want to believe that people want to do good, want to do the right thing, and expect the same from others. However, I have been continually disappointed over the years in this. I see this latest season of rebellion as a lesson both for myself and for my shortfallen trust.

Psalm 14:1-3, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

I know why I have a hard time with this. I’m one of them when in rebellion. There can be no other outcome but complete disappointment when working with sinners. To them and rebellious Christians, goodness is right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6, 21:25, Proverbs 12:15, 16:2, 21:2). It’s a moving target no man can hit and it is the source of all contention and it comes from pride.

So I have to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh that desires its own goodness and righteousness. I must not trust the goodness of another man. I must boldly trust in the Lord and His Word and His Spirit to lead me in the way which is right. I know better. “The lips of the wise disperse knowledge…” (Proverbs 15:7a) …”For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” (Proberbs 2:6). Therefore I can only trust His Word and confidently and boldly disperse it. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

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