Sunday, November 05, 2006

God of Wonders

Since I left the last post so open-ended, I have no choice but to continue, but I’m still trying to feel my way toward explaining everything that’s been going on …

Oh, yes, the new Beth Moore study. Believing God. I struggled for the first several weeks … until the recorded segment where Beth discusses the correlation between spiritual authority and our personal vision of God. She pointed out that as humans, we want to be able to explain everything (guilty as charged), and that to varying degrees, we want God to “behave”—to act in ways that are logical and comprehensible to us personally. We might deny that we desire this, but I can see so many things in my own life that prove it. And she pointed out that faith unchallenged is a faith stifled or unchanged.

I thought to myself, not for the first time, that as Jan Karon wrote in her Mitford series, “It is the nature of faith to be tested.” I could accept the questions and apparent disappointments, I found, as long as I was assured that God was still working. So often, He is “hard to get” (a la the Rich Mullins song): He is not “tame” … not housebroken, not bound to our own ideas and expectations and understanding. He certainly isn’t obligated to explain Himself to us, although the whole purpose of the Scriptures is to reveal Him and His heart to us.

Another piece of the puzzle fell into place several days later with the next recorded installment of the study. This time Beth discussed two opposite and equal errors among believers: cessationism (God does nothing supernatural in this day and time) and sensationalism (God performs miracles anytime we ask). Jesus condemned both, calling those who scoffed His ability to do anything miraculous “unbelieving and perverse,” while telling those who focused on His miracles alone “adulterous and wicked.” She says that probably the most serious offense of sensationalism is that the philosophy is more self centered than God centered, and puts more emphasis on what God can do rather than who He is. But the problem with the other error is that it cheats the believer of possible blessings and undercuts hope that God can do anything. Jesus has not changed. God has not changed. And He states most clearly that He is a God of wonders, in many ways.

Beth also clarifies the main difference between the Old and New Covenants (before the sacrifice of Christ, and after): many of the Old Covenant promises were physical in nature (Abraham becoming the father of nations, and various promises of material prosperity as a blessing of obedience), but in the New Covenant they become primarily spiritual. She also points out that one of God’s primary objectives under the New Covenant is to prepare individual believers to be the Bride of Christ. God certainly loves us and wants to bless us, but if a particular blessing or positive answer to prayer would hinder His greater purpose in changing our individual hearts to greater reflect His glory—well, the blessing is denied or delayed.

All of this also clarified several things for me—maybe confirmed is more like it, because none of what she said was really completely new; it just fit together in a slightly different way than I had seen before. The Lord used it to demolish my last excuses for not trusting Him, not only in my writing but in every other situation in my life. He also showed me that even in the situation with Duncan, when we prayed and hoped and believed that He would work a miracle, things did not happen the way they did because of a lack of faith, or some hidden sin or fault, or His unwillingness or inability to act in the situation … but it was precisely what our family needed to happen, to further make us the people He wants us to be. That sounds almost as if I’m saying it was because of a sin or fault—but the fact is that we fallen human beings, even redeemed, most of the time have a long journey ahead of us before we’re really fit for heaven. That isn’t a statement of our worth, either, because when it comes right down to it, none of us are worthy of God’s grace … and that’s part of the point. None of us deserve salvation, much less the next breath He grants us.

Which is precisely why I’ve felt so overwhelmed with awe at all the times lately I've felt the breath of His Spirit.

Again, He is a God of wonders. I was reminded of that verse in Joshua that He impressed upon me before the conference: “Sanctify yourselves … for tomorrow I will do wonders.” Interestingly enough, last Friday’s study included an exploration of the Hebrew word translated wonder … extraordinary, a hard-to-understand thing. I thought about how difficult I had found it to understand just what God sought to do in me—and through me—at the conference, and I almost giggled at His sense of humor, again. “I will do wonders … I will do something so deep and big and marvelous that you can’t even wrap your brain around it.”

All that to say … I still don’t really have a clue what what lies ahead, beyond a sense of preparation in general … but I have a renewed sense of hope and expectation that whatever it is, it’s in His hands and not only in my best interests, but for His glory. That alone is a very great blessing, after all the uncertainty of the conference and the weeks following.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:22 AM

    I mentioned before, that study truly changed my life. It sounds so cliche, so bandwagon-y, but there's no other way to say it. I struggled like you with the first part of the study.

    I can't wait to read more of what you learn!

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  2. I have for a long time felt the wildness of God. As a child, I was both terrified of and fascinated by God. He was the punisher. He was the giver of life. He was stern. He was loving. He was always there, watching, hearing--and that's enough to make any kid kinda paranoid.

    As I got older and understood more of His love, I felt less of the terror and more of the comfort. But I always knew He was an person to fear, because he did, in fact, hold my life in his hand, and I didn't want to be asked to do something dangerous. I'd read the Bible and God asked people to do wild and perilous tihngs, and I didn NOT want that.

    I think that's why it took me a long time to just relax in God's presence and accept that my screwed up self was still utterly loved, utterly loved, utterly loved.

    That's what sets you free, I think. The way I can walk naked in front of my husband without shame, I can walk as my mud-splattered self before God and know that He'll clean me up and love me still.

    Unlike some folks, I don't ask God to tell me what to do in everything. I figure if he clearly wants me to do smoething or NOt do it, He'll shout in my heart. I just act on faith: Faith that that what I desire, as long as it's nto sin, is fine with Dad. And if it's not, he'll close the door and open the one He wants me to walk through.

    I don't agonize much about thing other than my usual besetting sins that make me nuts. The rest..I trust I have the freedom to choose.

    Mir

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