Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What If He Chose NOT to Answer?

As followers of Jesus Christ, one of the truths we hold on to the dearest is that we can "boldly approach the throne of grace to find mercy in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). But, it was not always so. Consider our passage for this week from Ezekiel 20.
"Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Do you come to inquire of Me?" As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "I will not be inquired of by you."' (20:3)

Ouch! Those are some pretty harsh words from the Lord, pretty scary as a matter of fact. To think that the elders of Israel came to ask God something and were turned away, not just by the prophet, but by the Lord Himself.

But, be sure to read on in this chapter ans take note of the fact that the Lord has been more than gracious to Israel. Though He will not allow the elders to inquire, He does not leave them without a message to take "back to the people." A harsh message, that's for sure, but a message also laced with a future hope.

The message is that there have been numerous times God has lead them, protected them and called them to live in light of His sovereignty, but each time they have turned their back on Him. It was as if the tables were turned. God had called upon them, and they did not answer the phone. God inquired, and they would have nothing of it. Each time God sought to destroy them, but relented because of "His name." That name which is "promise" and "mercy" and "love."

Have you ever felt that God did not answer your call? The phone of heaven just kept ringing and ringing, even the answering machine failed to pick-up? I know I have. And after reading this passage I wonder if God was not "allowing" me to inquire...maybe for my own good. Maybe so I would be forced to listen more carefully. Maybe so I would repent and return.

The good new is that God DID listen to the people. He listened not to the words they spoke but to the deepest needs of their hearts, even the needs they did not know to speak forth. I have often found that the questions I have desired to ask of God are not even close to the ones I should be asking. How thankful I am that God knows what I need even when I don't, and that He is moved not by my inquiries alone, but by the true needs of my heart.

How good it is to know that God will not remain silent. There will come a time when not only will He answer our call, but He will deal with according to His name, not according to the "corruptness of our deeds." (Ezekiel 20:41-44)

Boy, what a call that will be!


Anonymous said...

It’s not the obvious idols that modern day Christians need to be cautious about. What we need to watch out for is anything that distances God in anyway. We need to not only be grateful for and cherish our privilege of having a close relationship with God where we can get real and be completely honest with him as we pour our heart out, but take full advantage of that privilege as well.

As you pointed out sometimes the things we pray for aren’t even really our deepest desires anyway. One of the things I appreciate most about God is that I can start out praying for the wrong thing and keep rattling away and pouring my heart out and before that prayer is over realize that what I started out praying for really isn’t, in fact, what I really deeply desired.

In reality, when I started out praying, instead of really trusting God with the actual “real” problem, I actually began that prayer by inadvertently putting myself in God’s place by praying specifically for what I “reasoned” out to be the best possible solution to a problem. And God really can’t and doesn’t answer a prayer like that where I am essentially taking control, because he is God. He is sovereign. Put another way, Father knows best.

What’s more, it isn’t too bright to pray that way since God has infinite ways to deal with problems and can clearly see the “big picture” instead of looking at the world from my own small vantage point.. What’s more, if he answered all my prayers the way I “suggest” would be the best way to help me out, I would probably just be solving one problem while inadvertently creating another.

Fortunately, he is a patient God and does in fact listen patiently as I continue praying until I have “prayed it through” or until I feel genuinely relieved - spiritually. I say spiritually because even though outwardly, at that point, nothing has changed, I somehow realize spiritually that the spirits of darkness can no longer kick sand in this 90 pound spiritual weakling’s face, but are going to have to deal with the Big Guy now.

I have yet to pray fervently like that and get really real with God that I don’t get to stand back and watch God work. He rarely (if ever) works things out the way I reasoned them out, but he cleanses my heart so he can reveal to me the real deep desires of my heart and then give me what I deeply desire rather than what an immature child wanted momentarily.

Amazing, but all he really wants us to do is trust him. Trust him completely. Believe in him, utterly and entirely. Rely on Him and not ourselves. All he wants is faith. It is from that mustard seed of faith that the fruit of the spirit grows. But if we lack faith which causes us to distance him in any way, we don’t really open our heart completely and let him have full access. Then all he can do is patiently listen to a half-hearted prayer and wait patiently for us to really trust him.

And when everything is said and done, the very deepest desire every human being has is a close relationship with God so when we do trust him enough to just give him the problem and not back seat drive, we are back on track - with him on the throne where he belongs. Then everything else just falls into place. (Matthew 6:33).

Anonymous said...

I think as we mature as Christians God backs off with the personal guidance (is silent), standing back, so to say, to observe what we will do in varying situations on our own. He has given us a portion of his Spirit to use as our own intelligence – it is now part of the movement of our mind.

This spiritual intelligence will not develop properly into maturity if we - figuratively speaking - are tied to God’s apron strings.

Like our own parents did, or should have done after a season of our growing up, I think God is - for the most part - letting us have our own way without interference, so we can learn firsthand to exercise the talents that are innate within our portion of his Spirit within us.

Knowing the right thing to do on our own – and doing it – is a sign of spiritual maturity in Christ.

In this sense God’s silence as Father is actually God’s coming to fuller expression of his Life as Son in Christians!

This is something to think about as possibly happening.