Exodus 32 tells the story of how God’s people melted all their gold and made themselves a golden calf and an image to worship. Simply put, they rejoiced in the works of their own hands never supposing that they were moving away from God’s purpose for them. Those were the same people that were led by their prophet Moses, had Aaron as priest. They had experienced the miracles of Egypt. They had followed the fire by night and the cloud by day. They were a group that had manna from heaven; they had been uniquely called to be the people of God. They were a generation of people called specifically to Worship the True God. But in spite of that purpose and call, they were a misguided people just the same. How? By worshipping their own works they lost their way, and because of those same hands, lost their relationship with God. As believers, we can all do that if we are not careful. We can fall for the ‘look at what we have done for God’ mindset. I mean, just look at how we serve Him. Look at my prayers, my Faith, my ministry. All of that can be with good intention initially, but gradually it can walk us away from the design of God to follow and Worship Him and Him alone.
Sometimes it’s important to re-evaluate what’s motivating us, whose works are present and what’s consuming our time. Perhaps we’re doing something great for God but we may not be doing something great with God. It’s a subtle distinction. The problem with ‘calfing’ is that it’s a fleshly worship/praise and not a Spiritual one. At WBVN we’ve always hoped and prayed for a Spiritual result rather than a soulish one. We hope our psalms, hymns and songs are directed at the hearts of men and women not directed just to their brains.
One of the characteristics of working ‘with God’ as opposed to working for Him has a common denominator: waiting. It always seems to make up part of the mix of finding purpose in our journey. What we do all of a sudden rarely contains the same power in our lives as those things that come slowly and deliberately. I can’t find any ‘hurry’ used in the context of the scriptural text found in the Old or New Testament. Patience seems like a catalyst for all good things. In our culture we want instant and quick. But looking back at the story of the Gospel, all the roads seem to be rather long, a journey rather than a sprint. We would do well to remember that the Spirit of God will always eventually manifest Himself, time is of no matter. Time is not a feature of the future and should not be a feature of our present. With God there is no time, I mean a thousand years is as a day to the One who created all things and holds all things together. It’s the end results that are important, not the path we take to get there. Faith by its very nature is not limited to what the calendar hints, the watches say or by the siftings of an hour glass. I remember hearing someone say many years ago, ‘in the Gospel, we don’t play two halves, don’t play four quarters; in God, we play till we win.’ Christ wins.
I was thinking about the things we seemingly lack in this society in order for salvation to blossom and the Word to spread like a wild fire again. I realized there never has been a time that was perfect for that, yet the Gospel consistently moved into each generation. Certainly, we can’t explain how this Gospel exponentially has grown for the past 6 thousand years. There never have been perfect people to explain it or perfect denominational expressions to proclaim it. It simply grows and continues because of what the Spirit does, rather than the works of our hands. We facilitate the Spirit but we can’t do what only the Spirit can do. We can build our projects and put in lots of effort sometimes, but they can be golden calves, sterile and worthless, moving us away from purpose. His Spirit is necessary and able for any lasting results. We must continue to trust and believe even without a complete understanding of how the full Gospel can come to pass as promised in our lives and the world. Faith is about believing something not seen, not believing something that’s been proven.
Life is tougher than we were ‘sold’ it would be. Jesus said as much in the Book of Acts (26:14) telling Saul (Paul) that living life separated from Jesus is ‘hard for you to kick against the briars.’ Without Him, we are always entangled in the thorns of this life. With Him we are as able as Br’er Rabbit in those briars. We’ve been promised by the world, and some religion, that everything’s going to be just great; just buy this or just perform that and it will be perfect. Actually, Jesus left little doubt that there’s trouble in this world. Coming as man, he subjected himself to trouble; he was challenged each day with what this world has to offer, was tempted to abandon the Father just as we are. Eventually, they killed him because of his Faith and they’ll do the same to you; only today, instead of physically killing believers they do it by bullying; killing what you say, what you think, what you do, and what you believe.
It’s weird in a way, even with every opportunity to do so, we seem to push away from the table of Trust and Belief, walk away from the opportunity to stay in the ‘shadow of the Most High’. It comes down to one thing really, permitting our hearts to be led by the Spirit of God that’s been placed within us. That small voice will often, most often in fact, be going in the opposite direction of our thinking. But, our thinking has gotten us into a lot of trouble, if not with the law at least with our psychology (our hearts). We think we know how to do things better; do it our way, but that ‘doing’ is all in the flesh. The Gospel teaches us not to put our trust in the flesh, yet we continue to cozy up to it most the time, separating ourselves from our hearts. The flesh is where we’re most comfortable and the thing we’ve been taught to embrace, encouraged to follow rather than following our hearts. Some go so far as to even use their fleshly condition to measure and ascertain their spiritual condition.
Life is like our highway system, traffic going in two directions at the same time, both along the same path. It’s not that there’s only one thing going on at a time, actually two things are going on at the same time. You may be going in one direction, going along with all the has world to offer, but right next to you the Love of God (profoundly right next to you) is a companion offering you something better but going in the very opposite direction. There is a way that seems right but leads to destruction; however, the reciprocal to that scripture is that there’s a way that is better, profoundly better, and leads us to Life. Which road will we take? Christ encourages us to stop kicking against the briars and slow down, to rest, and the thorns and briars that we struggle against in this life will loosen their hold and will begin to be escapable. Wrestling against the Love of God, mingling with the world only entangles us more and makes life more difficult of a struggle. Work with Him and we will begin to be set free from what holds us back from experiencing the fullness of a partnership with God.