Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Friday, August 8, 2014

Giving Up



And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. -- Hosea 2:8


We talked about Nebuchadnezzar yesterday, but it is not only kings and leaders who forget by whom their blessing are bestowed.  It can happen to nations, as it did to Israel in the time of Hosea.  Despite apostasy and heresy, the Lord had continued to sustain and protect Israel. 

If we thought that delivering unpopular messages reduced the pool of applicants for the job of prophet, consider Hosea.  The first thing God said to Hosea (Hosea 1:2) was, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom  …”.  Beta bucks, as they say.  Hosea’s life was to be a living illustration of the unconditional love of God for His people, regardless of their disobedience.  They would suffer the consequences of their apostasy, but they would never cease to be bound to the Lord in covenant as Gomer was bound to Hosea in marriage. 

An Arminian friend of mine put it this way, “I don’t necessarily believe in once-saved-always-saved, but I do believe that’s the way God intends for it to be.”  A Calvinist would read that and say that if God intends, so it is.  Me?  I say, with Lewis, the gates of hell are locked, from the inside. 

No matter what a person has done or is doing, deliverance, peace, joy, and the Way of the kingdom is never more than a turn away.  No matter how many wrong turns have been taken on the road that leads away from God, the road back is the one a person is on.  Only the direction needs to change. 

Every blessing, every good thing in my life is from God.  I may make the mistake of attributing it to my capacity for problem-solving, but where exactly did that come from?  What can I actually take credit for?  My genes?  Good parents?  Good humor?  The ability to get up after being knocked down?  Most of the time, I want to quit.  No, something -- Someone keeps me going.  I don’t even know why.  We can only resist the grace of God by actively and intentionally denying Him access to us, sedating ourselves with drugs and work and fillers, drowning out His voice with noise and activity, keeping our minds in a state of turmoil, creating daily dramas and little personal disasters and distractions. 

On a very dark night I remember all too well being, as it were, on the edge of a precipice, and asking God why He would not leave me alone.  Couldn’t He see that I was a lost cause, that there was no way back for me?  Why not just let me go on down into oblivion?  To go back would hurt too much.  I don’t remember Him answering.  Well, except that I’m still here.  The truth is, though, I don’t feel I have made much progress.  I have a feeling, if I were to turn around the yawning abyss is not that far behind me.  The important thing, it seems, is not where we are but where we are going. 

8 comments:

julie said...

The important thing, it seems, is not where we are but where we are going.

Indeed. And lest you be tempted to spend too much time looking back, just remember what happened to Lot's wife...

John Lien said...

Every blessing, every good thing in my life is from God. I may make the mistake of attributing it to my capacity for problem-solving, but where exactly did that come from? What can I actually take credit for?

Very important point (well, for me at least).

I don’t remember Him answering. Well, except that I’m still here.

Good thing too!

mushroom said...

Lot's wife is a good one.

I guess it's a good thing. I keep thinking it must be for the grandkids -- or somebody has to pay taxes.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"The truth is, though, I don’t feel I have made much progress. I have a feeling, if I were to turn around the yawning abyss is not that far behind me. The important thing, it seems, is not where we are but where we are going."

I know that feeling, Mushroom.
Is it wrong to hope for purgatory? I imagine purgatory not as hellish, or heckish (although it certainly ain't Heaven) but as an intense training academy for those of us that need it.

Sort of like "special" ed for spiritual dimwits, which I confess to be.
To make a long story short, I would be relieved to find myself in purgatory after I physically die.
Of course I would be ecstatic if I made it into Heaven on the first try but there's this nagging feeling...I dunno.

Not that I'm saying the blood of Christ ain't enough, but I get pretty stupid sometimes.
However, I know salvation is always closer than the abyss as long as I don't quit or step off the ledge so there is that.
Thank God He hasn't given up on me, so the least I can do is not surrender, except to the Lord that is.

mushroom said...

I know what you mean about purgatory. It's like final preparations. I suspect it comes in various ways. For some of us, there may be some kind of post-death shake out that may seem like a prolonged dream. For others, it may happen on this side of the grave.

My dad passed away six years ago yesterday. Except for those last three months of his life, he was perfectly healthy, did everything he wanted to do, lived every minute like the old guys in Secondhand Lions for over 97 years. For three months, he was bedridden. He was a good Christian, and he would say over and over, "I don't know why I have to lay here like this".

He wasn't paying for his sins, but something was going on, and he was being made ready.

To the point where he couldn't get up, he had his hounds, he hunted, drove himself around, and he was content living there in the house he had built. He used to joke and say, "You can't take it with you, so I thought I'd just stay here with it", but there was a little truth, I think, hidden in that humor. It's almost like the Lord had to make him uncomfortable to break him free so he could go home.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks, Mushroom.
You said it better. I love thatfilm Second Hand Lions.

Don Johnson said...

Most of the time, I want to quit. No, something -- Someone keeps me going. I don’t even know why.

Ain't that the truth. It's a daily struggle, every day. So I thank God for coffee. I'm convinced he gave it to us to step out just one more day, one morning at a time.

mushroom said...

People will think this is crazy, but coffee is the one thing I really look forward to.