A Conversation With Omnipotence
It was a gorgeous December day in Florida. The bright sun, low humidity and mild temperature made it a perfect day for a stroll down by the water during my afternoon break at work. As often happens, my mind went to prayer as I strolled. The past few years have included one long, fiery trial that has led to many occasions when I walked along that seawall crying out to God for help and hearing nothing but God’s silence echo back. But this day would be different. Image via Wikipedia
As I headed down the hill toward the waterfront, a tsunami washed over my soul; a tsunami of disappointment at the lack of progress in my spiritual life. In the froth of that wave I saw the fear of man that so often paralyzes me, the all-too-present flesh that constantly haunts me and the all-too-halfhearted battle that I wage against it so much of the time. I knew that God saw them too, but all I could do was pick up a few examples, hold them up for His view and ask why.
My heart both leapt and sank. It leapt because He had responded.
He had responded.
He had responded.
He had responded!
I was so accustomed to His silence that I was startled but encouraged. But my heart also sank because, rather than answer the question, He only made matters worse. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before; just a verse of Scripture. But it was so obvious to me that He had spoken it that the effect was chilling.
“Pursue … holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:” (Hebrews 12:14 NKJV)
“Oh, Lord,” my soul cried, “You have placed within me a hunger for that holiness. But how does it come to be fleshed out? I live in the constant fear of lapsing back into self effort.”
He spoke a second time.
“Sound familiar? ‘For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.’” (Romans 7:18 NKJV)
Again, the effect was not from any newness of the words. Rather, it came from the reality that He was saying them at that moment – to me. Like Abraham shortly before the destruction of Sodom, I was moved to phrase myself carefully. This may be holy ground, but it is also perilous.
“‘Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak:’ (Genesis 18:30a NKJV) How does this desire get fulfilled?”
Again, He responded.
“… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” (Philippians 2:12 NKJV)
Both the excitement and the fear were growing. This was a conversation, not just a comment. Yet how was I to apply that without self effort? I dared to ask and His answer, for the first time, included more than just Scripture quotation. It also elaborated
“‘For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.’ (Philippians 2:13 NKJV). I put the will in you. You take that will and work at bringing it to the outside. That’s pursuing holiness. Just realize that, whenever there is real success, it will be I who put the ‘doing’ in you as it has pleased Me.”
“He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
As I said earlier. There was nothing really new in what was said. I have known all those verses for years. But this time they came in power. Power that alarmed me with its seriousness and calmed me with its gentle assurance. He is there. He is working. He will succeed. Praise His Holy Name!