Walk with Him

I want to walk with Him everyday, but I find I keep looking ahead, trying to make sure where we appear to be going is where I want to finally end up. Yes, I’m excited about heaven, and feel I can finally trust Him with that, but with what goes on in the here and now I’m not so sure.

I once thought it was the opposite: I could trust God with everything that goes on in this world, but having such faith for the next was largely impossible. But my estimation of my might in faith was just a little off kilter!

I think the thing is that I can trust Him with the immediate, the short-term, and now even the far away, but the unknown climate of six months from now — what might He do with me by then? Where might I find myself, feeling like it all just came out of nowhere?

What crazy fears I casually coexist with! Tolerance of sin in my heart is an illegitimate dream, in light of all that I am to have and enjoy of holiness as I grow in intimacy with God. The measure of where I’m able to go with Him on this “walk” is very much contingent upon where I insist my boundaries are. If I insist that I will go “no further than here,” or “anything beyond that point is too far,” I limit God and grieve His heart.

With all that He has planned for me, how else should He react when, out of fear (and not of love) I tell Him, “I will not allow You to do what is best. You may think You have the right idea for me, but I know what I can handle a lot better than You.

“Thanks, but no thanks. I won’t be needing Your services. I like my own a lot more. Go find someone else who is a little more willing to ruin their lives with what You are going to do.”

Ugh! How can I speak to Him this way?

Yet, what better motivation do I have to let Him operate on my heart and make me new — more reflective of what He wishes? Because, when it comes right down to it, my thoughts of Him are not just filled with unbelief, they are brutal — laced with hate and bitter antagonism.

This might sound a little over the top, but what else can we legitimately call what is so far from love? Jesus called anger — often an expression of hate — the same as murder. And to Him, all sin is really the same. If we can believe murder to be possible for very angry people, why not for the rest of us — who let anger decide so much of what we do and who we become?

As such needy people, we cannot treat the gospel as a fairy-tale description of ourselves; the horrors and the sorrows of sin are real. We are our own worst enemy, and yet so adept at clothing ourselves in sheep’s clothing. Our only hope is in our Shepherd-Savior, who separates the true sheep from the false, and is able to lead all of us in sensible dependence.

A lot of us look down on sheep, “they’re just followers,” we say, or “they are so dumb they would follow the next guy off the side of a cliff before they even knew it.” But, aren’t we the same way? We will follow unqualified philosophers, psychologists and politicians, even reputable playwrights, but we will not give the Prince of Peace a second thought.

He says, “My sheep know my voice,” but are we listening? Or are we too enthralled with the fancy rhetoric we hear from men who claim to know something we ought to pay attention to? What should demand more of our attention than the words that come from Wisdom’s Voice, the comfort that only the Spirit possesses, the authority that only Love commands?

I want to only have have ears for that Voice; content to dwell on His precepts to the disesteem of other jargon. Only His words can change my heart, only His ways would make me what I hope to one day become.

So, let it be, dear Lord, that I come to You with eager ears; content to listen and cease from my advising. Let me stop and wonder, at the wisdom of Your ways — so much of it still hidden, yet there to hope in all the same.

Here I Am, Let Me Stand

The Lord has been working on my heart a lot in the last few days — bolstering me with hope where I find that all my normal hopes are drowning in the water. Yet, He keeps showing Himself to be insistent on raising me in His hope. It seems a cruel thing that He would divorce me from all other hopes, but gracious when I see what He would marry me to now.

He’s brought me to His Word again and again; sinking in my own philosophies, needing to be rescued with His life-preserver. The last two days a single verse has relieved the tension created by unbelief and increased the satisfaction I find in moving on in faith — despite what I can’t see:

But you who held fast to the LORD your God are all alive today.

Deuteronomy 4:4

One little verse has been all I needed; God has been proving to me that His Word truly is life to me. True life begins on the inside, not dependent on what goes on on the outside, but on what we hold onto on the inside. The way I react to what goes on on the outside reveals what I am truly believing internally.

I have been entertaining myself with ideas that do not truly form a worthy foundation. They all work okay when I can just get by, without having them tested, but when I need them to be proved strong, I find that they have no real basis in the Word that alone stands forever:

A voice says, “Shout!”
I said, “What shall I shout?”

“These people are nothing but grass,
their love fragile as wildflowers.
The grass withers, the wildflowers fade,
if God so much as puffs on them.
Aren’t these people just so much grass?
True, the grass withers and the wildflowers fade,
but our God’s Word stands firm and forever.”

Isaiah 40:6-8

Make me think, Your thoughts, Lord God, let me not run on my own steam, treasuring my own explanations and executions in this life. I stand on nothing but You; let it be wholly on Your truth that I position myself, that I may trust no other. Reduce, yes, destroy all that I treasure without dependence on Your wisdom.

Walking in the Light

The Light

I thought I liked the light till I was caught in it;

I thought I wanted more personal exposure, until I saw the shame,

revealing all for which I am to blame;

then I thought I would forget it; all, except He’s the One who casts it.

The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one. Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.

There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.

The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
but they didn’t want him.
But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
not blood-begotten,
not flesh-begotten,
not sex-begotten.

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.

John pointed him out and called, “This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word.”

We all live off his generous bounty,
gift after gift after gift.
We got the basics from Moses,
and then this exuberant giving and receiving,
This endless knowing and understanding—
all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.
No one has ever seen God,
not so much as a glimpse.
This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,
who exists at the very heart of the Father,
has made him plain as day.

When Jews from Jerusalem sent a group of priests and officials to ask John who he was, he was completely honest. He didn’t evade the question. He told the plain truth: “I am not the Messiah.They pressed him, “Who, then? Elijah?”

“I am not.”

“The Prophet?”

“No.”

Exasperated, they said, “Who, then? We need an answer for those who sent us. Tell us something—anything!—about yourself.”

“I’m thunder in the desert: ‘Make the road straight for God!’ I’m doing what the prophet Isaiah preached.”

Those sent to question him were from the Pharisee party. Now they had a question of their own: “If you’re neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet, why do you baptize?”

John answered, “I only baptize using water. A person you don’t recognize has taken his stand in your midst. He comes after me, but he is not in second place to me. I’m not even worthy to hold his coat for him.”

These conversations took place in Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing at the time.

The very next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and yelled out, “Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb! He forgives the sins of the world! This is the man I’ve been talking about, ‘the One who comes after me but is really ahead of me.’ I knew nothing about who he was—only this: that my task has been to get Israel ready to recognize him as the God-Revealer. That is why I came here baptizing with water, giving you a good bath and scrubbing sins from your life so you can get a fresh start with God.” John clinched his witness with this: “I watched the Spirit, like a dove flying down out of the sky, making himself at home in him. I repeat, I know nothing about him except this: The One who authorized me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One on whom you see the Spirit come down and stay, this One will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ That’s exactly what I saw happen, and I’m telling you, there’s no question about it: This is the Son of God.”

The next day John was back at his post with two disciples, who were watching. He looked up, saw Jesus walking nearby, and said, “Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb.” The two disciples heard him and went after Jesus. Jesus looked over his shoulder and said to them, “What are you after?”They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

He replied, “Come along and see for yourself.”

They came, saw where he was living, and ended up staying with him for the day. It was late afternoon when this happened.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John’s witness and followed Jesus. The first thing he did after finding where Jesus lived was find his own brother, Simon, telling him, “We’ve found the Messiah” (that is, “Christ”). He immediately led him to Jesus.

Jesus took one look up and said, “You’re John’s son, Simon? From now on your name is Cephas” (or Peter, which means “Rock”).

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. When he got there, he ran across Philip and said, “Come, follow me.” (Philip’s hometown was Bethsaida, the same as Andrew and Peter.)

Philip went and found Nathanael and told him, “We’ve found the One Moses wrote of in the Law, the One preached by the prophets. It’s Jesus, Joseph’s son, the one from Nazareth!” Nathanael said, “Nazareth? You’ve got to be kidding.”

But Philip said, “Come, see for yourself.”

When Jesus saw him coming he said, “There’s a real Israelite, not a false bone in his body.”

Nathanael said, “Where did you get that idea? You don’t know me.”

Jesus answered, “One day, long before Philip called you here, I saw you under the fig tree.”

Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi! You are the Son of God, the King of Israel!”

Jesus said, “You’ve become a believer simply because I say I saw you one day sitting under the fig tree? You haven’t seen anything yet! Before this is over you’re going to see heaven open and God’s angels descending to the Son of Man and ascending again.”

John 1

Seeing and Believing

Perhaps hurting makes room for more joy — that raw, rare quality of the Holy Spirit that arrests our spirits with other-worldly delight in a God we cannot yet see. In body we have not obtained His resurrection, but our spirits need not be so constrained. Let us experience the fullness of His resurrection life.

There is always new life to be experienced with Christ, despite what trials may seem to dictate for our present reality. In Christ these temporary sorrows are always suspiciously irrelevant when we consider His joys to be had in the midst of them.

With each passing test of faith and endurance we must learn to recognize a God-ordained opportunity to grow, to go to new levels with Him in eternity’s most crucial relationship. Let us bless Him for that regardless of how sin and sorrow might startle and attempt to unwind us today. We cannot expect to be able to anticipate what thanksgiving will look like for our future, but we can give Him everything we have to give right now. Our Lord is eager to receive all that we are, as we are, without cosmetic work. May this lift your soul with unrehearsed praise; we are not fettered by His expectations of us, but graciously encouraged.