Every so often, it happens. I’m caught pleasantly by surprise at how the Holy Spirit uses an obscure passage somewhere in the books of the law (the first five books of the Bible) to make a certain truth fresh to my heart.
Here’s this morning’s culprit:
The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so. The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see his great fire anymore, or we will die.”
The LORD said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in their mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.
I can’t speak for individuals, but it seems that the young nation of Israel had something that the western Church as a whole severely lacks: the fear of the Lord.
Dear praying friends,
A friend of mine – referring to her own project which she’s inviting others to join – said it well: “I know you probably follow a dozen other blogs. There are hundreds of messages, lessons, and words floating around you each day. I don’t expect you to drop everything and join me.”
In the same way, I recognize that you may be surrounded by prayer requests and projects beg or beckon for your support.
But would you read on and quietly consider (with prayer if you need to) joining me in the following way?
God has blessed me time and time again through the small community of blog commenters who engage with me. Two weeks ago, we discussed the things about fiction that hinder us (born-again believers) as runners of the race marked out for us.
I’m grateful for friends who take the liberty to explore meaningful rabbit trails. One such friend said:
But then again, can reading even clean books become a waste of time?
There was a time where every book I read hindered my relationship with God. Not because of the book in itself or the content, but because I relied on the books to calm my anxiety, instead of relying on God. Sometimes, I still have to ask myself, “why am I reading?”. Is it to have a good time reading a book or to run away from my anxiety or responsibilities again?
I think that second comment captured one of the pitfalls that avid readers fall into.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
I once heard someone use these verses to teach that Christ-followers need to be wary of more than just outright sins. There are non-sins that would woo us away from Christ as our first love. That’s the “everything that hinders” that the author of Hebrews lists as a separate entity alongside “the sin that so easily entangles.”
I don’t know about you, but I speak for myself when I say that it’s those gray areas that stump me. Give me black and give me white. But if you put something less defined in front of me, I don’t always know what to do with it.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
-1 John 1:8-10
As I consider the place of vulnerability in God’s design, I think salvation comes through it.
No, salvation is not through vulnerability in the same way that it is through faith. The Bible clearly teaches:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
Last week, I shared 7 signs that you or I have taken our reading habits to the point of idolatry. Needless to say, it was a weighty topic. One reader described it as sobering. It had the same effect on me as I wrote it.
By my own reasoning, I’m an idolator. That’s someone who reveres or delights in something more than God.
I’ll go ahead and admit that this whole idol thing isn’t new to me. For years I’ve known and regretted that I tend to love certain people and things more deeply and freely than I love God.
I started a book again!
I hadn’t read a paperback in months and I felt guilty. Of all people, writers are meant to read.
But this past Tuesday, I finally picked up a new novel, River of Grace.
I savored it from the beginning. The pleasure of reading returned to me like a neglected friend. I rediscovered the urge to read in every spare moment, the bittersweet (mostly sweet) guilt of reading past my bedtime, the adrenaline rush when I thought about the next chance I would get to crack open the cover, the secret relief when I got stranded somewhere because of the rain and… oh well. *Sigh* I guess I’ll just have to read as I wait it out, even though there were a dozen more import things I should be doing.
In May, I posted a small excerpt from Isolated (here). I took the liberty to pick apart a certain attitude maintained by the featured character. It’s the idea that God should have done this or He should have done that or the next thing because we deserve it. It’s the idea behind common questions: “Shouldn’t an all-loving, all-powerful God have done such-and-such?”
I propose this is an attitude we have all faced or will all face to varying degrees. Yes, you and yes, me.
All it takes is one thing to go wrong. One thing. Then we start to question God.
One of my favorite words to describe content, a service, a product… basically anything is “comprehensive.” It tells me that the subject is good quality and that the creator or curator has put time and effort into even the details.
It’s the difference between a complete and thorough job and one that kind of, sort of makes a bit of a difference.
That’s how I’ve come to think of vulnerability in terms of how it relates to God making us more like Jesus. The more vulnerable we get, the more we put ourselves at God’s disposal to be conformed to the image of His Son. Here’s the illustration I have in my mind: