Sadly it is so easy to forget the awe of the moment Jesus called us to Himself. We forget that the most pure, intense moments that left us forever changed, are the ones where we placed ourselves before Him, anointing His feet with the tears/gifts flowing from our alabaster hearts. Moments where His awe rests upon us as we feast upon His Word, reveling in the wonder that the Lord of all Creation calls us His. This is the place worship starts. From here we are usable. Mold-able clay yielding ourselves in the Potter’s hands.
We forget because we cannot stay there. We all must rise after that encounter and follow Him back into our everyday lives with our responsibilities, busyness, pain and… hearts. This is where we struggle. It has always been where mankind struggles. Our attention and hearts drift and in the midst of living we become undone. We sat down frustrated and create our own plans. We stumble because we don’t see God coming through for us. We oppose Him with our hearts and take up our own actions, emotions and ideas as we set our faith and His right to rule aside.
We are not alone. It is not a new problem. It is an old sin issue. Many in the scriptures were chastised for it as THEY took action rather than surrender their heart, mind, soul and strength and circumstances to Him. It is an old but ongoing issue with potentially great costs attached to it.
Saul lost a kingdom. He wanted to physically celebrate and serve and sacrifice and when the priest didn’t show up at ‘a convenient time’ for this king he decided to start the party without God’s spokesman and servant. When Saul’s faith was tested his weakness was revealed over and over and over again. Unwilling to wait on the Lord he always set off on his own, moved by the impulses of his own heart. God will not only reject the sacrifice but Saul’s right to reign as well. In I Samuel 13 when Saul is called out he offers excuses. “When I saw… I said… I have… I felt compelled…” God also rejects the excuses and reveals to Saul, through Samuel the prophet, that this was a test of your faith, of the thoughts housed within your heart, and you have… failed.
Job lost his confidence. Having lost fortune and family and health, we find him holding tight to God until an extended season of physical pain and faithless friends left this tormented soul angry and justifying himself and demanding an account of God. It is not a short statement. Noooo sir! And he doesn’t imply God has messed up once but repeatedly. Eventually God will challenge Job from a whirlwind. And a shaken Job responds, “Behold I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:4-5) With a contrite heart a humbled Job embraced God’s rebuke and… arose healed and redeemed.
Peter lost his way. In Mark 14, After vehemently declaring to Christ “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be… If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” Only thirty-seven verses later Peter just as passionately denies even knowing Him, swearing and cursing in order to make his point. Ohhhh my! That sounds worse than the other two examples! Yet God knows the depths of the heart of a man He knows us better than we know ourselves. And Jesus knew the test was coming for Peter and even warned him in Luke 22, ‘Satan has asked for you that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith should not fail…” Yet Peter would speaking out of turn like Job AND reneging on his pledge.
Tested he would stumble but he would not fail. Why? Because Peter’s heart was anchored in Christ’s strength not his own. Later, when Jesus calls him out he responded in unadulterated love. A restored Peter rises to strengthen the brethren and continue the work of God’s heart… commissioned.
Before we do any other thing may we always be mindful that we don’t know what today holds but we are held by the One who gave us this day. With all of our heart may we seek His own.
Before we lift our hands to serve may we lift them in praise mindful of His omnipotence, His provision and love and His blessings and give Him the glory due His great name.
Before we set our feet to go may we be mindful that apart from the fullness of Christ’s Spirit at work in us we lack the power to do any good that would make an eternal difference. May we rest in that knowledge.
Lord, remind us of Saul that we might remember to wait upon You and rest in Your timing. Remind us of Job that we might not take our relationship within You for granted and assume to speak for You. Remind us of Peter for we too shall stumble and step back in the wake of our failure but You are “near to the broken and contrite-heart.” Rebellion and indifference to You will usher in loss. But stumbling isn’t failing. Refusing to heed Your heart and be lifted back up is. Keep our hearts Lord, ever near Your own. Selah