Monday, July 29, 2013
Narrow Views of Grace
Is. 55:1 ¶ Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Is. 55:6 ¶ Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
Is. 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
Is. 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
There is nothing in life that satisfies us like the beauty of walking in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Once we have tasted the richness of an experience with him we want to go back to that well over and over again. That's the beauty of thirsting! When we are thirsty spiritually we can go back to the one who provides water that sustains us in a way that we could never imagine -- and when we are spiritually hungry he provides us with just what we need -- at no cost.
But there is a little glitch. We are to be seeking the Lord, day in and day out! This is our work as followers of God -- to seek the Lord. He is available to provide for our hunger and thirst, but we need to call on him while he is near. When we are enjoying the rich depths of our walk with him we must call on him day in and out and it is then that he satisfies our very need.
Yes, he does satisfy our needs but not always in the way that we may have imagined. We may think or believe that God would respond in one particular way or another and there are times that we are shocked and/or surprised by what happens. Why is that? Because we are not God -- and never should we imagine that we are God or that we totally comprehend the mind of God. God is God! His thoughts are not our thoughts -- and the ways in which we do things are not his ways. For us to even begin to imagine that we understand all the thoughts of God would be to live in complete and total arrogance. Instead we have to open our minds to the fullness of God's greatness. Henry, in his commentary states, " And do thou help us, O Spirit of all truth, to have such views of the fulness, freeness, and greatness of the rich mercy in Christ, as may remove from us all narrow views of sovereign grace."
I'm so glad that I can trust in God whose bird's eye view of things is much more comprehensive than my earthbound perspective. But there are several things that we must understand from this Scripture. First of all, it's a good thing to be hungry and thirsty for things spiritual. Unfortunately there are too many people in this world who no longer have that feeling of thirst or hunger. They are satisfying themselves with imitation products which leave them feeling full for a short period of time, but leaving them with no time to be seeking God. The problem with this is that one day they will wake up and discover that they are malnourished and ill, but there may be no opportunity to recover from a lifetime of eating and drinking the wrong stuff. That's why we are encouraged to seek the Lord while he may be found. While our hearts are still tender toward the things of God we must seek him, for in those times he will be found and he will completely and totally satisfy.
Tied into this entire experience is prevenient grace. God reaches out to the thirsty and hungry with his grace. This is a grace which draws us to him -- he actually helps to create the hunger and thirst. And this is where we must ask about our personal response. Do we sense his grace reaching out to us and are we responding to that grace? This also speaks about the need for prayer. It is in prayer that I seek the face of God, but it is also in intercessory prayer that I participate with God in his prevenient grace which is reaching out to the lost. Does my prayer life work together with God in helping to bring about hunger and thirst among those who need him? If there is no movement of the lost toward God these days, if there is no hunger and thirsting, maybe it says more about the lack of prayer among the believers then it does about the spiritual state of those who are lost. We must be people of intercessory prayer who are praying for the hungering and the thirsting of those who so desperately need to know the satisfying food and water that the Lord has for us.
We are called upon to seek the Lord. Other places in Scripture we are admonished to seek the face of God. The common thread here is to seek him -- and to seek him means that I turn my face toward him and in doing so the incarnate God, Jesus Christ, is reflected in me. All my desires, all my affections are turned toward the one whom I am seeking. I want nothing more than to be united with him, growing in his love and grace. It is in this place that no longer am consumed by earthly cares, but by him, the one who loves me and cares for ms.
Our ability to know God is limited by our human capacity and therefore God gently cares for, not overwhelming, us with who he is. He is God and therefore his thoughts and ways will always be higher than ours. We must be cautious of creating narrow and rigid understandings of an infinite God whose ways and thoughts are not ours! Instead, we are called to relax and not be anxious about anything, instead being grateful that we are privileged to have a personal relationship with God who has a panoramic view of all the pieces of our lives and comprehends what is ultimately best for us. May we trust in him enough that we don't have to create our own narrow boundaries of understanding to feel secure, but wholeheartedly lean on the one who wants to provide for our every spiritual need. It is in this place that we are set free to enjoy the "fullness, freeness, and greatness of the rich mercy in Christ."
Lord, thank you that I don't have to understand everything that is happening in life -- because you do and you will care for us. Amen.