Monday, April 12

Joining the work already begun….

"With the faithful You prove Yourself faithful; with the blameless man You prove Yourself blameless; with the pure You prove Yourself pure, but with the crooked You prove Yourself shrewd. You rescue an afflicted people, but Your eyes are set against the proud --- You humble them. Lord, You are my lamp; the Lord illuminates my darkness. With You I can attack any barrier, and with my God I can leap over a wall. God --- His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is pure. He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him." (2 Samuel 22:29-31 HASB)

We finished up our discussion in the small group last night about David, that figure in the biblical text and historical data that is best described as a 'man after God's own heart,' even though the wreckage of his life created suffering and anguish for his reign over both Israel and Judah. In the 'infamous' declaration of Nathan the prophet, David is told that he is 'that man.' (2 Samuel 12:7ff) What really struck me wasn't the declaration, but what Nathan immediately followed with, 'this is what the Lord of Israel says…..'

"I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master's house to you and your master's wives into your arms, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah, and if that was not enough, I would have given you even more."

If that was not enough……

In Deuteronomy 17:15ff, God lays down the appointing process and standards for the king over the nation of Israel. "…you are to appoint over you the king that the Lord your God chooses. Appoint a king from your brothers. You are not to set a foreigner over you, or one who is not of your people. However, he must not acquire many horses for himself or send the people back to Egypt to acquire many horses, for the Lord has told you, 'You are never to go back that way again.' He must not acquire many wives for himself so his heart won't go astray. He must not acquire large amounts of silver and gold for himself."

All the kings of Israel, starting with David and epitomized by his son Solomon, violated these standards. Yet David is considered a 'man after God's own heart' and Solomon was granted the wisdom he asked for, in addition to everything else he didn't ask for. A seeming contradiction, maybe, until you add the human factor into the understanding….that Adamic unwillingness or incapability to obey God's ideal standards even when they are simply spelled out before us. God always presents us with the perfect and ideal way to join Him in the work already begun… ourselves, in our world and in those whom we interact with. What usually happens is less than ideal, because of our own brokenness and sinful old nature. Even Solomon admitted as much in the Proverbs, if you care to read of a foolish man versus a wise one; God's ideal versus mankind's ideal.

When is enough not enough?

When we take what God has given us and demand more….when we seek, not to live in the tension between anguish and hope but to garner more than our ability to handle so that we can blind ourselves to the story that is being portrayed before us, in us and through us of the grandeur design and epic stature of His story…….

We taste the blessings that God has given us and relax our guard to indulge in the simple desires and pleasures that seem to float just behind the horizon, much like David did when at a time his army was at war, he stayed back in Jerusalem….and we don't want to go back to the suffering of the previous seasons so we gather enough to maintain and assure our comforts, as David did amassing an army capable of defending what kingdom he had.

We underestimate God's ability to give us everything that He has promised with Eve's mindset and laid aside for us while we overestimate our ability to hold on to what we have been given as we pursue more than we need. We want that 'rainy day' fund against the time when God doesn't answer our prayers or requests or supplications and leaves us high and dry………

Our story, our legacy and our very 'survival' becomes more important than the story of God……..and the sacrifice His Son gave for our sake.

We seek the immediate and fragile pleasures of the moment instead of looking around for the work already in progress in us, around us and through us. God's story, spelled out in meticitous detail from Genesis to Revelation, tells each of us what the harvest of immediate gratification is and what the deeper harvest of peace and joy for the things yet to be can be. Yet we grasp, cling and claw our way through this world….writing our own story in the margin of the pages.

Those blank pages that we try and read, flipping ahead in the tome of God's marvelous and glorifying story, scare us……..with the stroke of a pen, we can be paupers or kings.

I am scared as the time approaches to join those who are on a deeper adventure at MTS-M, either as a temporary Graduate Studies Student or a MDiv Student. So much hinges on so much other things, well beyond my control or affecting……yet, when I reread the story so far as I have journeyed with God, I can see that blood line weaving itself throughout my smaller tale within the larger chapter of His word……the past six years haven't been wasted, they have been fruitful in the designs that God had for me….to bring me to this spot where I realize the work He has done in me and now wants me to join Him in doing through me.

As I read Dr. Larry Crabb's latest offering, 66 Love Letters; A Conversation with God that Invites You into His Story, I am struck by a statement that he writes about God's reply to us about Genesis, His first love letter……

"Read the story of Jacob and take heart. I can transform anyone into the likeness of My Son." God says, "But the progress is never easy or short. It took nearly 150 years filled with terrible family problems to change Jacob into Israel, into a man who learned to trust in Me in the struggles of life. But I got the job done. I always do."

His success record is so much better than mine……I think I'll leave the direction I'll take in regards to seminary and everything else in His capable hands. After all, He already began the work in me and has promised to not stop until His perfection is realized.

How about you?

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