For the past three weeks now, I have found myself attending a church service, not of my home church…all 3, in fact, far from home. Interestingly enough, the themes built upon each other…in sequential order of all things. The first two tied into how we focus on our circumstances, then proceed to doubt our ability, when we should believe that we are indeed capable of great accomplishments. The alternative, is that we focus on the same circumstances, then proceed to doubt God’s ability to bring us through what seems insurmountable. Both these sermons utilize the story of the 12 spies of Israel that checked out the land of Canaan, promised to the people of Israel.
The third and latest service, discussed again, how we miss the greater picture. We ignore God and His Word and what He calls us to do and be and how to live…we do things our way, diss those who have mistreated us, get all bummed about the affairs of life and then wonder why God’s not there, not speaking, not helping us out of our plight. We do the opposite of what King David did, which was to acknowledge, despite the storms of life, that his good days outweighed the bad.
OUTWEIGH. He gave more worth, focus and attention to the good that had transpired in his life and what God had done for him on his behalf; sentiments later re-iterated by the Apostle Paul writing more on than one occasion, his circumstances “serving to advance the gospel” and his ability to be content regardless, as he had known plenty as well as insufficiency.
So, even as those in the third service were challenged, so was I, in that God does work in our lives, but it’s only recognized if we are paying attention to it. Spending time with God with His Word.
So I sit with my Bible and find myself, getting drawn back to Scripture… Proverbs 29 leads to looking up a passage in Deuteronomy which results in reading the last 14 chapters of Job. (29-42)
Job, in an entire conversation with his wife, 3 friends, a man named Elihu and God, work out a righteous man’s worst nightmare. And in the end of it, Job acknowledges before God and man what many in modern society fail to recognize the respond appropriately with:
…”I know that you can do all things…surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things to wonderful for me to know…therefore I despise myself and repent…” Job 42:1-6
What does this have to do with my missing God?
The first service, I ended up attending because I made a bad decision. But God had me there for a reason. The second service was a prompting, that that was the particular church I was to be at the Sunday following the first service. I thought otherwise, but couldn’t shake what I genuinely believe was God directing…don’t look for a closer church; I told you where I want you to go. So I did.
And the third service? Yet again, God arranged the day for me to be a in particular area. I pick a church to attend, only to get there and hear that service was cancelled…a pipe had burst earlier that very day. I check the GPS for surrounding services…4 nearby churches weren’t even having services that evening. Finally call on a church and service had started 20 minutes prior to my call. “Really God? Is it gonna be worth it go?”
So, it’s the next closest one….I guess this where I’m supposed to go. And God knows what He is doing and where he is placing me to get my attention and help me understand.
It’s what we all need to understand.
When we do as Job did and speak of things we do not understand, we do what the Lord describes Job as having done: “Obscure [His] counsel without knowledge.”
This is how we miss God. Three occasions, I could have dug my heels in frustration to my circumstances…this isn’t working out and I’m not bothering to go to church. The first service…I was that frustrated. That decision 2 days before, I really struggled with, for most of the week that followed.
The second service wasn’t exactly next door. I had to decide the night before, if that’s the church I was going to step into the next morning.
And who but God directs you to one church, by having the pipe burst in the attic of another church…the Pastor, by the way told me had left a meeting early that morning to head back to the church and it burst just minutes after his arrival. He’s been at the church 6 yrs and didn’t know there were even water pipes in the attic.
I did actually consider still not going to that third service because they were going to be 25-30 minutes into when I arrived. Yet it was still a powerful, practical, relevant message.
Funny enough, the pastor of the 3rd service was talking about how we blame our bad decisions on outside influences or people or the devil. Yet, step into any jail cell and ask them about the moments leading up to the arrest and you’ll hear “Something told me NOT to do it…just knew, something wasn’t right” We don’t hesitate for he or she or they made me. Adam says “This woman you gave me.” Eve says, “the serpent deceived me”. Yet when our spirit is prompted by advance notice, we don’t attribute to God watching out for us, but it’s “something told me.”
How belittling to God. And this how we miss Him. Failing to recognize His desire for relationship with us, we’re quick to tell everyone our troubles and fail to trust God. Or if your me, spend more time online wasting time than on my knees in prayer, investing time.
God is working out the details of your life, as much as He is mine. But if you are not looking for His way, especially when things are not working out “your” way, you’ll miss Him. I was watching an episode of The West Wing the other night, and Chief of Staff Leo McGarry is trying to push for the Defense Missile Shield. During the test run, the target is missed…by 137 miles. While discussing with some senior staff the results, Toby asks how much the miss was and embarrassed, Leo says something to the effect…”it doesn’t really matter”, as a miss is a miss…by how much is irrelevant.
This is how it is with God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Close isn’t gonna cut it. The only that is going to matter that can be described by the word “close” is our relationship with God. And there will be evidence to support that, just like one would ask what makes you close with your best friend or your spouse. And it needs to be deeper than, “Well we were tight back in college” or “We live under the same roof.”
Like any great friendship or marriage, your relationship is never complete. You can always be closer. And God has literally had me travel many miles to help me realize that I could and need to be closer in my walk with Him.
Don’t let your circumstance obscure your knowledge of Him or interfere with your ability to draw closer to Him.