The “if” part is our responsibility
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of night, and my brain will kick into gear. Most of the time my thoughts are centered around what I have going on in my life…family, work, ministry. Often, I will use these middle-of-the-night thinkathons to contemplate something that has briefly popped into my mind during the busyness of the day. Usually, if I can get my racing mind to calm down and think about one topic, I will drift off to sleep within an hour or two.
I decided to share my latest contemplations with you. This post is a little more theological than my usual blog content, but I encourage you to stick with me through it. It was eye-opening for me to process through this, and I believe it could be for you also.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about the concept of being still – of conscientiously training my heart, mind, and soul to contemplate and meditate on both the transcendent and the immanent aspects of His nature and applying them to my world, my life, my family, and my day.
In our world of constant noise, motion, and chaos, it is sometimes difficult for us to remember that where God is, there is peace. He doesn’t feel the need for incessant movement and sound, and He doesn’t ask us to live like that. But we have to choose to be in the position to receive the peace that He offers. God is a gentleman in the sense that He doesn’t force His gifts, guidance, or relationship on anyone.
God can do anything. There is nothing too hard, too complicated, or too big for Him. Most of us know this in our heads, but I’ve discovered that we often don’t move it down to our hearts and into our lived belief system.
Focusing on the transcendence of God – the apartness, above-ness, and separateness aspect of who He is – reminds us that He is not a God that we can control, completely understand, or co-rule our life with. When we meditate on the transcendence of the Creator God, we catch just a glimpse of His holiness, which is enough to put us on the ground before Him, like the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 6. He is a God that we should be constantly in awe of, worshipping at His feet in complete humility.
Focusing on the immanence of God – the intimate way He is involved with our lives and the world around us – is even more powerful and meaningful when it is weighed in balance with His transcendence. The fact that our huge, HOLY God, who created the entire universe and everything in it, is so loving and kind, so relational and interactive, that He made a way through His Son for us to come to Him…well, it blows my mind – but it has to start with His Holiness.
We live in a culture that doesn’t want to hear about God’s holiness and His requirements for those who are going to have a relationship with Him.
You see, when we ignore or downplay the huge and glorious part of who our God truly is, we lose sight of – or perhaps never gain sight of – His greatness and HOLY, HOLY, HOLINESS. Instead, He becomes small in our belief system, unable to do what His Word says He can do. We don’t give Him a place of honor and leadership in our lives; instead, He is resigned to a little cardboard box down in the lefthand corner of our closet – a cool Christian t-shirt to wear, but certainly not a whole new identity or a suit of armor.
When we ignore or downplay His holiness, the need for our sanctification fades and disappears. Sin is no longer sin to us, because what God’s Word says becomes irrelevant to our lives. We look for peace, not understanding that peace only comes when we have God in the right place in our lives – not in the corner of our closet, but on the throne.
If we take the time to search out the truth and ask God to help give us the right view of Him, with a balanced view of His transcendence and immanence, we will find something interesting…
Our view of God becomes Biblically sound and our part in the relationship with Him becomes increasingly clear. I call this the “if part” of this miraculous relationship between the God of the Universe and us, mere humans formed from the earth.
What is the “if part”?
Isaiah 40:28-31 [NLT] “Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.”
The “if part” of this interaction with God: “Those who trust in the Lord” = they will find new strength and soar high on eagles wings.
So, in other words, it is our responsibility to choose to trust in the Lord.
Here’s another one…
Psalm 91: 1 [NLT] “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
The “if part” of this promise of rest: “Those who live in the shelter…” = will find rest in the shelter of the Almighty.
So, in other words, it is our responsibility to choose to live in the shelter.
Psalm 91 is full of these types of “if parts.” Look at this…
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”
So, why would we ever choose anything BUT His shelter, protection, peace, and everything else His Word promises IF we do what He requests? Why would we stumble through life in a fog of exhaustion becoming confused and led astray by every human teaching?
The answer is pretty simple.
It’s because we don’t humble ourselves and acknowledge that He is God and we are not. This act of humbling ourselves is the “if part.”
If it doesn’t happen, nothing else will.
1 Peter 5:6-7 [ESV] 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.