When The Dust Settles

14 12 2010

I have been reflecting on a book by John Bevere but today I am taking a bit of a detour to discuss a study I walked through in the ladies group I am a part of; the study is called “Simple Faith” By Charles Swindoll; different book but same theme as what I have been musing about this past while. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes are from the Simple Faith Study Guide.

First, from an interview with Rick Warren, the following observations made during a time when Rick is trying to understand “pain” as his wife is battling cancer:

“We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one.”

It is the journey through these problems that builds our character, our faith, our trust in God; it is also these problems that can cause us to “slip out of tune with God” (72). This doesn’t happen overnight and usually the things that make us “slip” present themselves as small opportunities, or as Dr. Richard H. Seume describes them, they come as “the lure of the lesser loyalty” (from the book by Seume called Shoes For The Road). These are the things that draw us away from really FACING bigger issues, really TACKLING the thing that may seem like a mountain on our path, and lures us to skirt it. Oswald Chambers puts it this way:

“You have gone through the big crisis, now be alert over the least things; take into calculation the ‘retired sphere of the leasts.'” (Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, p. 11)

It is usually the little things that steal from God. After the dust of some big thing settles, it is the little things that find our Achilles heel. I really understand this right now because I have an issue with my Achilles heel. I don’t know how it happened, but one day I felt something funny in my foot. Not one to run to the doctor, I just thought, “Whatever. Give it a few weeks.” Weeks turned into months and one day I noticed it was swollen. The doctor said there were tears in my heel. Physio said I would need to ice it and stretch it a certain way because these little tears could lead to a “bigger and badder” problem.

Nothing really spectacular happened to me to cause this issue. Similarly, the thing that lures us away from God usually doesn’t come crashing through the door. In fact, door crashers are so spectacular, they usually force us to our knees before Jesus; and after the crisis we are so relieved, and we are often so tired, we don’t even notice the the lesser things that lure us from God; that are doing something to us to ensure we aren’t completely Christ’s. I completely get this; I have been experiencing this.

These little things nibble at our minds, and as the author warns, “clearly, our minds determine the direction of our lives” (75); a “wrong focus can trap us in a merciless bondage, enslaving us to the wrong master” (75).

This really stood out to me, the idea of the wrong master. Of course we know what Jesus says, “you can’t serve two masters” but how much have I thought about what can become my master? The things that I immediately think of, I can largely dismiss, but there are other things that can captivate me, other things that can steal from God, even my inability to let go of pain and disappointment and self-doubt can become my new master. How much time do I spend with the things that have mastery over me? Even this can keep me from walking in the truth; even these things keep Jesus waiting.

The author writes, “Living in truth also keeps our focus clear. The secret here is serving the right Master. Keep asking yourself: does this honor the Savior? Does this exalt His name? Does this bring glory to Him?” (76)

The story is told of a man named Robert Robinson. He is a real person who lived a few hundred years ago; a man who loved God. But along the way, his heart and mind became messy with his own arguments and theological debates. The more inward he became, the more he questioned and placed more importance on “virtue above faith…conduct above creed” the more he became “a great soul racked and rent by the clash of inward loyalties” (Graham W. Hughes, When Freedom Fired: The Story of Robert Robinson, P. 102).

At one point, he had authored the great old hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” but lost his ability to enjoy his own words,

“I am the unhappy man who composed that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then” (77).

That confession just rips me apart. I understand; on some level I understand that loss. He is the one who wrote

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;

Lesser loyalties draw us to do so; the other master always calls. But never, ever, while we live and breathe, is it too late to call out (as Robinson did in his hymn) for restoration. The words can be sung like poetry set to music; but I read it like a person being chased:

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,

Seal it for Thy courts above.

— Teresa Klassen

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