In Awe! pt – 4

Through Coloured Glasses – pt. 2

Awe is a part of all of us and it directs and moves us in ways that we often do not see. All the beauty around us was meant to draw us towards the one who created all things and allow us to see many of His divine qualities. Many centuries ago the king David wrote “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.” Psalms 19:1 NLV.

What often happens though is we begin to see God not through what He has made and put on display for us to know Him more, but through what is happening in our natural world. We see Him through the mistakes people make and the problems that we face. We tend to lose sight of His nature and character and instead define Him by what we understand of our world and our circumstances. This is something we see in the life of Job in the bible and most of the other people we read about in scripture. It is a trait that is common to all of us as humans. Like us, and many other people in scripture Job began to see God through his circumstances, and began to complain against God. Job was a man who did his best to do everything right. He followed all of God’s commands and worked hard to make sure that he made ammends for everything he may have done wrong, but also for everything his family may have done wrong as well. In fact God even noticed and spoke of Job as being “the finest man in all the earth who is blameless and a man of complete integrity.”

And even though Job was right before God his life fell apart. His children died in a freak accident. His livestock was stolen and servants killed by bandits. His home was destroyed. In a single day Job went from being one of the wealthiest men to having nothing at all. And as if that wasn’t the worst he became sick and was covered in sores. Job was having a very bad day. And for awhile he held true to his belief about God. Even when his friends came to criticize and correct him, and his wife told him to curse God and die, he held his ground and his circumstance was simply what he was living through. After several days of this his story began to change and he began to see God differently. And he began to see God not as God was, but through his problems and circumstances. And he began to complain “What have I done to deserve this treatment.” Job 30:24 MSG. Job began to see himself as right and God as wrong. His attitude got so bad God actually came to speak to him personally and asks him “Where were you when I created the earth? Did you teach the birds to fly? Did you deternime the measurements and foundations of the earth?”

Job was a man who lost his sense of awe and began to see God differently. And through encountering God again his awe was restored. When God spoke to Job his response was ” I am speechless, in awe- words fail me.” Job came to realize how his view had changed and needed to be adjusted. And like Job the same had to happen in my life, and I came to see God not for who I thought he was through my circumstances, but simply for who He actually was. And that allowed me freedom despite my circumstances because God promised to be with us no matter what we went through. And He never changes.

A man who came to understand the nature and character of God regardless of what he went through was Abraham. Abraham was not a man who did everything perfectly and he definitely was not a man who always followed exactly what God said to do. He didn’t always live a blessed life and his life wasn’t without troubles. But through it all he walked with and came to know who God was and it guided him throughout his entire life. When God promised Abraham a son he was a young man. But Abraham never saw the fulfillment of that promise for many years. It wasn’t until he was 100 years old that God’s promise to him was realized. But that didn’t cause Abraham to waiver. He still believed in God’s nature and character. “And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.” Romans 4:19-21 NLT.

We all have to look at our live and see what we are believing about God and if our understanding is being filtered through our circumstances and understanding or if we are actually seeing Him for who He is. Only when we see Him as He truly is can our awe for Him be what it is supposed to be, and only then can we truly follow Him as we should.

What does it take to follow Jesus?

The call to follow Christ is not one that needs a lot of preparation and thought.  It doesn’t require hours and hours of study for someone to be used powerfully by God.  And one doesn’t need to spend thousands of dollars on an education to make sure your know enough to be useful to God.  We live in a society that has pushed you to learn and prepare so that you are useful.  And while education and study are definitely imporant and have their place, they are not what is needed for one to be used by God.  To often we allow ourselves to think that we are not ready, or we don’t know enough, or we are not prepared to say yes when God calls.  I have been guilty of this same thought myself over the years.  

When I was first asked to teach sunday school years ago my first thought was ‘what do I know?’  I felt unqualified, and ill prepared to stand before a group of kids and teach them.  Thankfully I didn’t allow the feelings to hold me back and at the encouragment of those leading me I stepped into the role.  The problem is many Christians today in North America hold back in so many ways because they feel the same.  I was truly humbled by the young men and women I met while traveling overseas who were simply doing what was in front of them every day to the best they knew how and they were leading people to Christ and leading churches, and many were fresh off the streets themselves.  All they knew was God was able, Jesus saves and what God had done for them He wanted to do for others.  And as they were the oldest Christian they were in charge.

When I talk with people here about leading small groups, or house churches I usually get the same response I had when asked to teach sunday school.  People say ‘I’m not ready’, or ‘I don’t know enough’ or ‘What if I get asked something I can’t answer?’.  And all of the responses usually revolve around knowing and preparing enough to perform.  And as a result we miss out completely on seeing God do something in our lives and moving on the people we encounter each day.

Wolfgang Samson wrote “The core followers of Christ have found that following Him is not about having sufficient academic and statistical proof before they act; rather, it is about having the faithful and obedient desire to follow God’s Word and do what He said, no matter what, when, where, or who has gone before.”

Everyone who has ever been used of God has had to come to the place where they realized the fact that ‘God is able, and God is faithful, and Jesus wants to be known’.  

Everything God calls us to do and to be stems from His ability and not ours. We will never know enough or be prepared enough to be used by God. In fact most of the people God used were the unlearned and ill prepared. Just look at the original twelve disciples. Not one of them was considered to be the cream of society and not one was educated in any way. What set them apart was the willingness to follow and the relationship they had with God. They knew God was able to do all things, that God was wanting to use them, and He would be faithful to stand behind everything He called them to do. And so they went trusting in God’s ability instead of their own. 

For us to be used by God we have to come to the same place. The place where saying yes to what God wants doesn’t hinge on our ability but on His. Once we do we can truly see mountains move.  Everything is dependent on Him and on our willingness to simply follow where He leads.

Are you a victim?

We live in a world where everything that goes wrong in our lives is someone or something elses fault.  It seems to be the way of our world.  When something happens we don’t usually look at the person and hold them responsible for their actions.  We often look at reasons why they may have behaved the way they did.  And although there are reasons for their actions, they are not the cause.  Recently the world was appalled at the shooting which happened in Las Vegas.  It was a terrible tragedy and a lot of people were forever impacted by the choices of one man.   And within hours people began to search for the reasons behind the shooting.   We all were hungry for an answer to the question why.  What would cause a man to do this kind of thing.

There have been many other such instances that have happened over the years and some can be attributed to ideologies and beliefs which allow people to do these kinds of things.  We see this often in the news with ISIS.  And there are many other ideologies in our world that decree violence is the answer.  But I have also seen many times the people blame the circumstances of a persons life.  Their childhood was traumatic, or they didn’t have a proper role model or influence.  They were from a lower part of society which didn’t have many opportunities or options, or many other ways to explain people’s behaviours.  

The problem with this line of thinking is it takes away from our responsibility for our choices.  Most estimates say that 90-95% of your life is outside of your control.  And when we give away responsibility for our choices we acutally become a victim of whatever environment we live in.  And that mentality can be extremely hard to overcome.  The minute we give up ownership of our choices, and thereby responsibility we declare that life has made us the way we are and we are not responsible and are therefore a victim.  I used to say my brother made me mad growing up.  It is a common phrase many people use.  The problem is we are again in a victim mode saying something other than ourselves is responsible.   I still here the response I used to get, “Your brother didn’t make you mad, you chose to be mad because of what your brother did.”  

The common thing we all face every day is the reality of suffering.  All of our lives have difficulty and struggle.  All people everywhere have pain and suffering.  It is a part of our world, and a part of being alive.  It is the world we created.  And you cannot compare suffering.  Someone else may be having a more difficult time than you are currently, and someone else might be seeming to be doing better.  What we need to see is that no matter what happens in our lives, and no matter how tragic our circumstances feel we all have the choice to respond to those situations.

Any time you give away your ability to choose you become a victim.  All of us have the opportunity to overcome our circumstances and become better.  We have all seen people rise from great tragedy and hardship to levels of greatness.  Nelson Mandella comes to mind.  And we have all seen the news where someone who seemingly had life in hand causes great pain and suffering like the man in Las Vegas recently.  At no time can we give away responsibility for our lives and choices.  God is holding us accountable even if we are unwilling to.  We are the only ones responsible for who we are and what we are becoming.  And only we can determine the height of our growth and development.  The choice is before us all.  Who will we become in spite of what happens to us.  Anything less means you are choosing to be a victim.​