Monday, March 1, 2010

From the book . . .

Chapter 19

Stable in God’s companionship

Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people:
“I am with you . . . . My Spirit remains among you.”
Haggai 1:13, 2:5

Since God planted Adam and Even in the garden, He’s had a persistent habit of being with us. I doubt He ever planned it any other way. He made us smart and capable, but He made us to work best with Him at the center of our lives. I think He knew that despite our tendency to get a little full of ourselves now and then, we’d always get scared again sooner or later.

We’d always feel and understand the need for Someone smarter and more capable than we are to be in charge. We’d always be willing, but we’d frequently be stalled. So He planned from the very beginning a consistently hands-on management style with us, an oversight of our situation no matter what else was going on, and a reminder of all we need to know—a fire rekindled to light and fuel us when we’re cold and afraid.

And He promised. Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we equate not seeing what we expect to see with Him not doing what He promised He’d do. It’s a practice that hurts and leaves us stalled, and it’s wrong. But we can fix it, because He promised.

I know that alone feeling, the worst alone feeling there is, like my blood vessels are separated from my heart and I’m going on that last bit of inertia that pulsed life into me before it faded like the ending of a song on the radio. It’s a feeling of being separated from God, wobbly and wavering, too weak to face whatever injustice befalls me and too afraid to dare to achieve whatever goal inspires me.

I think my bones must be made of fear and my will dust in a tornado, my hope absent as an infant’s guilt. Temples may need to be built, but by me? Surely not. No scaffolding seems strong enough to sturdy me for the job, no safety harness sure enough to catch me if I should fall. How can I do this job on unstable feet, with hesitant hands? How can I do this . . . alone?

I wonder if God keeps a list of all His children who’ve felt that way? Not to hold it against us, of course, because He’s masterfully forgetful of our shortcomings, but perhaps just to review the moments when our real belief came shining through like a newly confident jury surveying an innocent man.

How pleased He must be when we simply claim His promise instead of doubt His willingness to keep it. How sad He must be for us when we wonder if the system He designed works for us today, still, as reliably as He said. Perhaps He looks back now and then and thinks, “My dear little children . . . when will they allow themselves to claim this promise from Me and trust Me to be with them? I’ll just keep reminding them . . . .”

It amazes me to think how big our world is. And it scares me. Who am I that God should be here with me when He has so much else to do? And why? So I give human characteristics to God’s will and abilities and get stuck in the fear of “what if.” What if He’s less than reliable? What if He does forget about me? What if I fall off this ladder and crack my head open because He isn’t there to catch me? Unafraid sounds unattainable, and yet . . . I can’t give up.

I want the only “what if” I live with to be what if I hadn’t trusted God, and then I laugh out loud like a kid on her first cake walk win at a carnival. I want the impossibility of that “what if” to be a cause for joy that He and I talk about for a long time to come.

Inspection Point

What if He’s asking “what if” too?

We have to remember that our building project is a collaboration, that God works with us and studies our actions and reactions to guide us well.

When my jobsite looks like a toddler took over with a thousand blocks and a bottle cap to stack them on, I imagine He’s wondering “what if” I had listened to Him, “what if” I had trusted Him with the great blueprint He wanted to entrust to me.
I wonder if it’s too late to begin again, or will His guidance and security and presence come. Do you wonder?

* When have you felt too weak or unworthy to be significant to God?
* What are the “what ifs” in your life today, blocking your build?
* What “what if” has God been urging you to answer and put to rest?

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust.
Psalm 40:4

Stalled, feeling way too small for God’s big request? Throughout our history, God’s found His human help in unlikely vessels. Gideon was one of those picked despite his apparent lack of credentials, and he knew it himself. But when the Israelites were under attack by Midian, God chose Gideon to settle the dispute.

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12). Yes, Gideon felt too little, perhaps because he forgot for a moment how God does all the heavy lifting. Perhaps he forgot that the might of our enemy is a breath of a breeze in the hurricane of God’s power. As always—our biggest job is to trust and that’s not dependent on size at all. We’re always big enough. He still promises He’s with you.

Read below or download the study of Gideon for yourself or your group.

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