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

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Friday, January 23, 2015

Packages With No Return Address

Thus says the LORD, You shall not go up or fight against your relatives. Return every man to his home, for this thing is from me. So they listened to the word of the LORD and returned and did not go against Jeroboam.  -- 2 Chronicles 11:4

This thing is from Me.  It is critical to know when something has come from God.  We can take the attitude – and it’s possibly the best default approach, that everything is from Him, that there are no “second causes”, that God is in control of everything and nothing can happen without His permission.  In an overall sense, this is true.  He’s God; He does as He pleases.  That’s pretty close to what the Bible often seems to tell us. 

Even when something is instigated or incited by the Lord, our response is not necessarily supposed to be the same in every case.  In the passage quoted, the Lord, because of Solomon’s foolishness toward the end of his life, had decreed that the kingdom be divided.  He raised up a rival in Jeroboam and left only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to the line of David.  Through a prophet the word comes that the king of Judah and those who follow him must accept this turn of events. 

Conversely, we sometimes see God sending enemies against His people that those enemies might be defeated and punished.   The Lord did not, in those cases, desire passive acceptance but rather aggressive and active resistance.  “Que Sera Sera” is not a Christian song.  Life really is an adventure for us.  Routine and formulaic responses are of minimal use to us.  Sometimes we fight; sometimes we surrender.  Sometimes we have to fight a while before we surrender, or surrender a while before we fight.  I wish I had a rule of thumb or a guide or something to tell me which scenario I’m in this time. 

We do have a guide, but it’s not a thing, it’s a Him.  That is the work of the Holy Spirit.  He is here, with us and in us, giving us peace about what is happening and how we are responding.  When it runs contrary to our old natures – whether that’s because we’re naturally passive or naturally aggressive – we have to deny ourselves.  That’s what it means to die to self, to crucify the flesh. 

From a practical point of view, when we are in the place of decision, the Lord will meet us where we are.  I think more “advanced” saints need less outside confirmation than some of the rest of us.  Early on, I had a lot of people around me who would give me “good words” that resonated and helped me get going the right way.  It’s like having training wheels on your bicycle.  I really wouldn’t want training wheels on my motorcycle because I couldn’t corner at speed.  Over time and through experience, we are expected to grow and develop our relationship in the Spirit to the point where we can confidently seek Him and know His will in any situation. 

There will always, though, be places where we run out of understanding, where the light seems to fail at the most crucial passage.  Abraham with the knife raised over Isaac, David fleeing from Absalom, Paul wasting his last days in a Roman prison, even perhaps the Lord Himself crying out, Why have You forsaken Me?  In those dark corridors we put it all in the hands of God and walk by faith, not by sight.


julie said...

Training wheels. I like that idea, it's a good way to describe what seems to happen.

mushroom said...

There are a lot more scrapes and bruises when they come off, but it's a lot more fun, too.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Sometimes I wanna put the training wheels back on and other times I wanna ride with no brakes, downhill.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I find it amazing how many matters of faith don't seem to make any sense until later, when we see more of the big picture, then it makes perfect sense.

mushroom said...

I agree, Ben. I'm fascinated by that, and it's one of the things I try to convey to the grandkids, in particular.