Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Freedom to Choose His Will

Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. ~ Psalm 25:12

The glory of Autumn is falling, fading. More and more bare branches reach into the pale blue. Some early mornings already shiver under the cover of frost. Leaves collect in drifts and grow limp with moisture. Everything seems to be slowing down. If only man could heed to this mellowing also...

I find it a bit hard to stay focused and "productive" when the mercury plunges and a stiffness creeps into my bones. It is easy to sing during the lightness and freedom of summer. To swing out of bed with purpose. It takes more effort to step away from warm comfort and get on with life, even in those cold corners and sunless rooms and places. To keep frisky little ones content, and chaos at bay.

It is often said that stress is the disease of our times. That it is the cause of illness, emotional distress and breakdown. But more and more there is something which grows larger than stress, worry or anxiety. Anxiety, depression, anti-depressants and tranquilisers have become so much part of our culture, that the presence of these conditions, as well as the prescription and use of the drugs to suppress it, hardly raises an eyebrow.

But could it be that hovering over all of these conditions there is a "condition" which medical science cannot pinpoint or cure? That feeling that it is all spinning out of control, a sense of hopelessness over the suffering and evil in the world. The symptoms of, or reaction to this "state" appears to be threefold - denial or false security (apathy), anger (bitterness) or despondency (disillusionment).

As children of God we need not fall into one of these categories. We have a choice. Each day over and over we may choose hope over all that often looms so large and real. I drew out an old CD from the shelve this morning. Earlier, I had spent some time in Jeremiah, and I needed to do something to shake off the sadness for the man and the apparent "failure" of his ministry. The first track to start playing was a song by Brian Doerksen called "Today - I choose to follow you". I smiled, remembering how our youngest son used to sing with much enthusiasm: "Today, my shoes will follow you!". And that is just how it is.

Each day I need to make that choice again and again. "The shoes" that follow Christ, are not fancy, flattering or even comfortable at times. But "they" lead you towards a place of total trust and hope. And real hope, does not mean that it is all going to be fine, that you will walk away from cares and worries, pain and sorrow, sickness and shame. You may even be led deeper into it at times. For the love of God is so unfathomable, that He will even allow His beloved to "walk through the valley of the shadow of death", in order for us to become aware of our deep need of Him. And His deep faithfulness to us.

When Jeremiah was thrown into the muddy pit, he did not only suffer physically. It was a place of disassociation with hope in the living God. In His sovereignty. There is no cure in the world for that. The more we reach for the cures and escapes that the world offers, the deeper into exile God will allow us to be led. But no pit is too deep or too dark for Jesus to reach into. No place of exile too far for Him to bring us home from.

Jeremiah was "in the pit", because God gave him the grace in his calling, to be the tool He used to call His people back to repentance. He wants the wayward to return and trust in Him as Savior. We are the ones today, who are called to proclaim God’s grace and mercy to the dying. And it is not a glamorous calling.

Jeremiah was "in the pit" because of the the Word(s) of God, and his ongoing obedience in relating His message to a fallen race. We may feel at times that our efforts to speak the Truth are fruitless. That our voices lack conviction, that our task is too great and without visible reward. That our lives are too hard or too busy for us to still be concerned with those who are lost or back-slidden.

"In the pit", there is only one direction to look, UP. It is not a sin to struggle in faith, but it is a sin to fall into unbelief or complacency. To revert to taking control in order to escape the reality of the lesson God wants to teach us "in the pit". In these times, God strengthens us through the promises in His Word - which are not the empty musings of fallible men, but solid footholds and reasons to hope. Hope in what we cannot yet see, yet trust to be there. And the reason for our hope is, was and always will be: Jesus. He descended to the pit of hell to free us, not from our troubles, but from the origin of all the trouble in the world - sin.

When we are faced with the trials and times of testing we go through, we often say, “Well God has a plan.” What a plan indeed! Not to lead us back to a place of comfort, but a plan of salvation for all mankind. To tear down pride and rebellion. To make the comfortable in sin uncomfortable. But also to build up, to comfort the afflicted with His grace.

Whether you need salvation, rescue, comfort, encouragement, restoration or just a loving embrace. Jesus can provide it. It will not be seven steps to a better life, or six solutions to all your problems etc. It is a day to day choice to put on His righteousness, wear it with joy and follow Him. This will be your witness, more than anything else.

Choose Jesus and take courage. He has overcome the world. For you.

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