Saturday, September 04, 2021

Get off the throne, Goldilocks! It wasn't meant for you.

I sat down to write today for the first time in a very long time and I simply could not find the words…no, not one. I felt dejected in the best way possible, because the spirit interjected, a divine revelation quickly settled in and the words began to flow. Who am I to believe that I have anything more valuable to add to the conversation than the stranger sitting next to me at the DMV? Or the nurse at the end of the street? Or even the pastor at my church? Who do I think I am that I am privy to knowledge others are not? Why do I believe my opinion matters more, my insight will change minds and firmly held lifelong beliefs, that the information and data (science, if you will) that I have collected is somehow more accurate than that of the fifth ‘friend’ down my feed? How woefully presumptuous of me!

Insert here a vision of Job issuing a gleeful high five and a note of encouragement. “Girl, welcome to my world. Read my book!” And so I did, but I skipped past all the tough stuff that I struggle to digest to this day (no, I am not omitting context) and landed right smack at the end of story. And the Lord spoke (to us all, like it or not - at least those of you reading).

2“Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
4-5Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth…Who determined its measurements?
8-9Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst forth and issued from the womb; When I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band?
12Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?
17Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?
39-41Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens, or lurk in their lairs to lie in wait? Who provides food for the raven, when its young ones cry to God, and wander about for lack of food?”

Well, shoot! I can’t do any of those things. So maybe I don’t actually have all the answers or even some of them and frankly, not even one on most occasions. So perhaps I should leave well enough alone for the moment and recognize that we aren’t all meant to be teachers. Of course, we are entitled to our opinions, but we would do well to remember that they are just that and are typically shaped by worldview, life experience, occasionally nature and quite often, nurture. And others have opinions shaped by the very same things, but often land at a very different place. We’ve rolled the same dice and both passed go, but I’m paying luxury tax and my friend is sitting pretty on Park Place. And so I am learning these turbulent days that silence sometimes speaks louder than any words I can string together, any diatribe I feel compelled to deliver, and certainly any entitlement I might feel in the presence of others. And I believe this is where my story begins and ends. Entitlement. It seems to mark this current age - this generation - and truth be told, I am entitled to one thing only. I am entitled as the daughter of a King to point others in His direction, to ensure that my words, every last one of them, are His words, the Sword of the Spirit, unpolluted and devoid of spin and commentary. As Robert Murray M’Cheyne implores, “It is God’s Word, not man’s comment upon God’s Word that saves souls.”

Spurgeon adds, “If ever we have a conversion at any time, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the conversion is rather traceable to the text, or to some Scripture quoted in the sermon, than to any trite or original saying by the preacher…therefore let us bring everything to the touchstone.”

The Bible. My touchstone. Thee touchstone. Am I bringing all things to it at every moment? My frustration? Doubts? Lingering questions? My brokenness? My wounds and scars? Successes and failures? Friends, neighbors and even enemies? Am I bringing them all to the touchstone where true healing is found and real progress is made? The sad reality is that no one is changing minds at this point, not those of others and certainly not our own. So why are we still trying? The divide is growing wider. The abyss, deeper. And the anger, increasingly more palpable. And my Jesus cuts through the chaos and gently whispers these words of encouragement.

Am I a peacemaker or a right-fighter? Am I justified in my opinion and beliefs or in Christ alone? If my truth claims lie solely in the Word of God, as they should, am I still a factor in the equation or is He - rightly - the alpha, omega, and everything in between? I fancy it a heart issue, as usual. Do I believe Him enough to remove myself from the equation and confidently assert that His ways are higher or am I holding on to a fraction of pride and seeking validation for my myself?

If you force a child to give his toy to another and he might (begrudgingly) give it, but he might not actually believe the child is deserving of it. He might still believe he is the rightful owner and more entitled to it. A toddler through and through, I might give God the glory for my accomplishments and successes, but do I really believe He is deserving of it? Am I going through the motions or has this Goldilocks truly abandoned her claims to a throne and crown that will never fit quite right because it was never intended for me in the first place? Have I fully surrendered mind, body, heart and soul to His authority?

And so my prayer is that the piece of me that still desires to be acknowledged, proven right and worse, praised and esteemed for my beliefs is cut out and thrown into the refiner’s fire where it rightly belongs. I believe we all want to be the one with the answer - the solution - to all of life’s problems, or at the very least, those on Capitol Hill, the media stage, or our local megachurch (the likes of which are surprisingly comparable). We want to be privy to a secret others are not, but the reality is that we are all privy to the same (not-so-secret) secret. Wait for it! Hold on to your granny panties, here it comes! He loves us all equally and gives us all the same answers before, during and after the test. Hit the books, friends. It’s right there in the Dewey Decimals between 200 and 299 (the Bible).

A side note to consider. I believe our most miserable of failures in navigating this present darkness lies in our willingness to allow the enemy a seat at the table of every conversation. We are asking the wrong questions, arguing moot points and allowing pride to gain a foothold. It looks similar to this:

Is gender reassignment wrong?
It’s a personal decision made by an individual, not society as a whole

While we plead our case over the correct answer and even justify it with biblical references, the devil is distracting us from the real issue. Our identities are found in Christ alone. Make no mistake, the enemy will stop at nothing to fill quiet spaces with dissension and unrest, anger and pride, sin and shame. Will we let him or will we exercise our right to free speech and let that speech be colored with love and truth, beauty and humility, promise and hope, grace and peace - nothing more and nothing less than the Word of God?!

I digress to the Godfather. “The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom. The Godfather is the answer to any question. What should I pack for my summer vacation? Leave the gun, take the cannoli. What day of the week is it? Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday. And the answer to your question is, go to the mattresses. You’re at war. It's not personal, it's business.” I’d like to confidently assert that the Godfather is not the sum of all wisdom. Indeed, it is God, the Father. And a small tweak on this ridiculous comparison that is probably amusing no one but myself, it actually IS personal with God. It is ALWAYS personal, because He has an interest in you that others do not. He is madly and passionately invested in your future and He is unabashedly pursuing your soul for all eternity.

I cannot do any of these things, but I know someone who can, the creator of them all, the author and perfecter of my faith. He has penned a story that simply does not disappoint, intriguing, moving and impassioned, rich in authenticity and bursting with humanity. I strongly urge you to read the book. The ending is so good!

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