Thursday, November 3, 2016

Just say "Yes!"

The annual Torah reading schedule has just reset. It is appropriate that the recent portion in Genesis took me back to "in the beginning" in the Garden once again. That beautiful place God created especially for us so we could commune with Him. It's good to remember that His intention in creating the earth was not that we would make something great of it, but that we should have a place to be with Him, a place in which to know and love Him. That meditation is a comforting antidote to the maelstrom of election confusion and anger swirling around us.

We are being told that this is a season to make our stand...or retreat into prayer...or protest for our rights...or sit down and be silent. It's our Christian duty to vote. It's not Christian to vote this time. It's a mess, but a mess God is permitting—perhaps to drive us to Him that we would draw near and listen. Reading about our beginnings is reminding me that now, more than ever, we need to be with God, to remember who we are, to draw near in friendship, to listen for His voice, to let Him fill us up. There are lots of folks shouting about what is happening in our world (and what we should do about it), but the one voice we most need to hear does not shout. In John 10, Jesus our good shepherd says His sheep hear and know His voice. It whispers behind us, "This is the way, walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21). God has no dog in this fight. His loving concern is about people, not governments, systems or parties. Only He is sufficiently outside, beyond and above the clamor of the world to be objective, so we desperately need to hear from Him. His trustworthy voice can safely interpret and direct us. Make no mistake, there are things to be done, decisions to make—important decisions. But we must sit at the feet of Jesus like Mary before we rise and serve like Martha.

How terrified the Israelites in Goshen must have been when God was humbling the Egyptians and their gods. Death and terror surrounded them for days on end, though it did not come near them. When God said to put lamb's blood over their door posts, it must have seemed pointless. How in the world could that stop pestilence? But they trusted and obeyed, though they did not understand. In this hour He wants me to be so tuned to His voice that I will hear and obey, even when it doesn't make sense to me...especially when it doesn't make sense to me. That is faith, believing in His love, wisdom and ability, relying on His character, and His track record. If I listen for His voice, He will show me the way I should go. My part is to listen and obey. 

So I've been convicted to ask for mercy and help. I can't even desire more of Jesus without Jesus' intervention. The world is so loud and shiny and distracting, so I am asking for greater ability to focus. I am meditating on Scripture—not to get more information or prove a point—but to renew my mind and hone my listening ears. I am asking for a deeper desire for His will and His ways. More than anything else I’m asking for Jesus Himself--His presence is what I most need. That lovesick yearning that keeps me adoring at His feet produces the oil I'll need in my lamp going forward (Matthew 25). I can ride above the muck and the mire of current events, no matter who wins on Tuesday, when He holds my gaze. 

I am grateful that God still seeks those who will walk with Him in the cool of the Garden. He  peeks through the lattice of our hearts and urges us to come away with Him. He is asking us to say ‘yes’ to more of His presence, so His power and ability can lift us above our circumstances, above the crumbling world, above the impending election and its results, where Jesus sits enthroned. Then we can fix our eyes confidently on Jesus, knowing that He has not left us forsaken, knowing that His love will keep and perfect His church—not in a weak-whimpering-barely crawling across the finish line kind of way—but blazing with light and sacrificial love. Oh that we would embrace His presence and be filled with more Jesus! Drink deeply of His love, His power, His peace, and His joy. Come away. Come away with Him. You won't be disappointed.

"O friends! Drink, yes, drink deeply, O beloved ones!" Song of Songs 5:1b

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