(and the Call Waiting that changes everything)
Lord, I'm a little confused. So many voices give instruction for my path. Obedience is the latest. Just obey—but don't see His commands as burdensome.
T.M. Moore talks about the necessity of fearing God and delighting in His commandments, not seeing them as obsolete. I’m not there yet.
Voddie Baucham contends that striving to do more good than bad and hoping for the best outcome is what ‘religion’ is about. It doesn’t work since we’re by nature depraved. That's why the spotless Lamb died on our behalf. 'You are powerless—but that's okay because you were purchased’ is how he sums it up.
John Piper has written a book considering all the imperatives of Jesus. He talks about his personal desolation in being exposed as a hopeless sinner, and the relief of the Gospel’s offer—"the Son of Man came to give his life a ransom for many," (Mk.10:45) "not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Lk.5:32).** I need to grasp all this more fully.
A couple of our friends focus on 'walking in love' as the ultimate test of whether or not we know God. And they work hard at not gossiping so that they can count on their prayers being answered.
All these voices have good things to commend yet I sit here a little mystified…it's not clear to me where I'm obeying and not obeying, or just what the next step is… I just feel deafened by the clamor.
I remember our long-ago neighbor Eugene—he, the lonely widower, fixing our whole family a wonderful homemade meal—fried chicken, potato salad and the fixin's and even delivering it.. He took The Golden Rule quite literally: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." (hint, hint) I asked him once if he was a Christian? His response, a little taken aback that it wasn't obvious, was: 'Well, I sure try to be one'.
Yet another friend is sure what I need to be doing is evangelizing everyone my life intersects with. It is after all a command, not a choice….
The advice goes on…
Use your gifts.
Mentor a younger woman.
Be mentored by an older one.
Encourage one another. Avoid discouraging words…
These too are voices I've heard this week.
Then there's the forget-about-religion crowd. They write books and blog but tend to downplay the value of the written Word of God. Just get to know the 'real' Jesus. He's great. You'll love him. He's playful. He's with you in the moment. Cool coincidences will prove His nearness. Don't worry about the 'letter of the law' just enjoy Jesus. What He said needs to be reinterpreted in terms of his tone of voice, His wink, His 'just teasing' nature. Don't take life/Jesus/Scripture so seriously.
That's me, serious. Let's see, how shall I change that? Just do it. Right.
“Prophets” of a new stripe are a dime a dozen these days too and everyone's got an 'encouraging word'—a promise of good things to come, a 'word' for your future. Never mind repentance. Obedience? What's that? Just go with the flow. Follow your impressions. Learn to hear the voice and follow. Throw caution to the wind. It's a 'new thing'; don't expect to find it in Scripture….
The super-achiever bio I'm reading doesn't help. A blind prodigy. A super mom. The message: Talent, Determination, Vision, and Confidence will take you places you'd never dreamed of going…Cambridge, Hollywood, TV, American Idol, maybe even a fat Bio all about your accomplishments… And as I read the sinking feeling grows that it's too late for me and mine but just think what could have been… (Failing to consider, that I don’t desire these ends anyway!)
Amid all these voices, I am feeling tired and apathetic, longing only to hear from the One that knows my heart, and knows my inability to carry one more 'should' today…He knows too my self-satisfied pride and my Pharisaical hardness. He knows the fear that holds me back from taking radical responses to inner nudges.
"Call her up and see how she's doing?"
--That might be awkward. I don't know her that well…
And the indecision that leads me to conclude it wasn't a divine nudge, just a 'should' I invented myself and can as easily let go… except I don't. (I feel guilty, and still wonder how she's doing…)
And He knows the actions I do take, because they're all I know to do with this truth that burns in my bones. I am not always diplomatic, not always encouraging. Sometimes truth just jumps out. Offense is taken. I can't remain a 'pleaser' and still a lover of truth. It isn't working.
My Savior knows all these things. His voice is the one I need most to hear. Numbed by message overload. Dulled by physical weariness. Daunted by so much deception at work in the world. Discouraged by my own powerless posture. Today I have no words. But I am listening. I am indeed hopeful. The Way, the Truth, and the Life is not lost and has posted no 'change of address'. He still lives here. In me, with me and for me. He died to redeem me for His Kingdom's sake. He's got the plan. All is well.
------------------Those were my pre-breakfast rumblings---------------------
At breakfast Jim's response was to remind me that the Holy Spirit is sovereign. He works in us to accomplish His good purposes in His good time. There's no rushing ahead of His plan. We are dependents in need of His enabling always and we are ultimately not in control of our lives…
And there was a “call waiting” all the while, a “voice mail” running through the back of my mind that I needed to look up:
Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, [and] my feet from falling. I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. Ps.119:7-9
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you [me!] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Phil.1:6
As breakfast got cleared away and the day had officially begun this confession rose in my heart---I believe He is the Christ, Son of the living God—It's a glorious refrain to a folksy tune by Andrew Peterson. Listen here and rejoice with me that really all is well when we hold onto what we know to be true while we wait for the ‘what next’ in our walk with Him…
Here’s an excerpt from his lyrics:
And every step of the way his grace is making me;
with every breath I breathe, he is saving me. And I believe.
So when my body's weak and the day is long,
when I feel my faith is all but gone, I'll remember when I sing this song that I believe.
I believe he is the Christ, Son of the living God, my Lord, my Savior. Oh, Hosanna, I believe.***
And yet another Scripture rose as a reminder of where to plant my feet and how to pace myself today in the numbness and confusion of too many voices…
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
And I am glad for the living God and his living Word that breathes life into my deadness and hope into my apathy. Aren't you?
So I picked up the phone and called that friend-in-the-making. We’ve got plans to do lunch. All is well.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Heb.10:23
*Voddie Baucham, “Truth and the Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World” in The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, p.65-67
**Interview in The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, eds.John Piper and Justin Taylor, Crossway Publ.,2007, p.149-50 discussing the book: What Jesus Demands from the World.
***Andrew Peterson: "The Good Confession" from Resurrection Letters, Vol.II
****Original illustration is mine but entirely inspired by Olivier Dunrea’s Gossie & Gertie, Houghton Mifflin, 2002.