Entrust to mercy

A living sacrifice does not pick it’s sacrifices, nor determine the cost. A living sacrifice is ready to die to self. If I am to walk yoked with Jesus in step with Him, then I cannot choose the bits of the journey I want. In essence, I am throwing myself at the mercy of God.

When an opportunity is presented to me my reaction is to evaluate the cost against my capacity and decide if I can fulfil what is being offered. While this approach is generally appropriate and eminently Biblical (Luke 14:28), I sense at this time The Lord’s challenge for me personally, is different.

Therefore brothers, in view of God’s mercy, I urge you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1

I feel as I do when standing on a tower with a zip line in front of me.  My head tells me that I will be safe while my senses shout, ‘You fool!’ It is the Lord who knows the journey’s path from the beginning. He can regulate the pace; He can cancel meetings; He can make apparent obligations impossible, and expose them as frauds. The other side of the challenge? If I allow Him to work in me this way then through faith He will break the bounds of my limited view and overflow from me into the lives others. So, I am encouraged to take the risk and entrust myself to His mercy, to His love.

Spiritual emptiness

Why does the Lord take us through periods of spiritual emptiness? We long for intimacy in worship and the word, but encounter dryness.

This seems to be the experience of the Psalmist in Psalms 42&43 (combined as one).

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?

This seems blasphemy to a culture exalting intimacy with God. How could God distance Himself? Yet the Psalmist writes –

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night,while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’

When this spiritual emptiness is experienced there are consequences, a rawness to life. One is on edge and brought to the end of natural defences. One is tempted to fill up through satisfaction of physical senses that only scream louder.

In years gone by, the Psalmist may have believed in a ‘technique that worked.’ After gaining intimacy with God through such techniques and then losing it for no apparent reason one gains perspective that God is after more than experiences of wellbeing.

43:3 Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.

The break through comes not from our efforts but from the Lord. The Psalmist calls on the one who seems to have forgotten him, recognising that the Lord’s purpose is as much about character as the experience of His presence.

 

For greater detail see the study for the whole passage.

Do I hear?

God speaks out, but many who hear protect themselves from His voice.  They dismiss what they hear as thunder, and then complain that He never speaks to them. The response of people when they heard the Father speak to Jesus was – “The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered, others said an angel had spoken to Him.” John 12:29 In order to get through to hardened hearts God has to thunder louder and louder. He moves from words to circumstances, which are harder to cope with or understand by far.

God speaks through people, but do we listen?  When God spoke through Stephen the response was: “At this they covered their ears and yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him.” Acts 7: 37.  When we don’t want to hear God, we cover our ears or turn up the music to drown out the noise.

I can say, “I am different; I listen!” But do I?  I hear from God on many themes, yet there are subjects where I cover my ears; areas that are too sensitive or where I don’t want to listen. When God asks me to say something hard to someone I don’t think will be responsive, I don’t want to hear Him. If I don’t hear then I don’t speak. By not speaking I become an unwitting participant in the hardships of those to whom God is trying to get through. I am denying them the opportunity of a still small voice and leaving only the message that can be dismissed as thunder.