Reflections on Resolve and Deceiving, Fading Lights

Isaiah 50: 11 ESV

“Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
who equip yourselves with burning torches!
Walk by the light of your fire,
and by the torches that you have kindled!
This you have from my hand:
you shall lie down in torment.”

1st Corinthians 14:33 ESV

“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace…”

One morning some time ago demonstrated to me unequivocally that we can know God’s will for us as we embark to fulfill different areas of our calling. The sound of worship music drifted through the air, as usual. (A practice my wife implemented long ago as we rest through the night.) This morning was familiar. I awoke to God’s peace, but the intensity was different. The precious Spirit was manifesting Himself in a palpable way. All my cares and concerns were melting away, and my eyes had not yet opened. I just rested in His presence. I was conscious, and acutely aware of the battles I was facing, but the peace was so abundant I silently marveled, daring not to move. The only way to describe it was ambiance. A living, pulsating ambiance. No words, but certainty followed. Instruction and insight illuminated my mind. A peace that passes all understanding continued to flood my spirit. I knew that I was on track. My journey and quest would continue. Slowly, my eyes opened to praise. “God is awesome,” rolled from my lips.” My day began. The illness from the previous few days… gone. And once again I began to confront the dark one and his realm in prayer. I reminded him that he may hinder, but he will never stop me.

The previous days were challenging in terms of direction and course of action. I was fasting, pouring over everything I could read, and listening to experts. Now I learned long ago that it was easy to chart a course when you follow the path of others, and to get deceived as well, but I also knew that there was wisdom to be gained from the experiences of others, so I was balancing this.

I was running out of patience. My research led to conflicting thoughts that even seemed to pacify me somewhat, because I could see that I had already produced more fruit than some of the people I studied. A strange contentment started to set in. Self-deception about my efforts was not far away. I have walked in it before and see it all the time. The problem is this, the fruit I settle for, may not be the fruit God is seeking. The fruit that man appraises often falls short when God assesses it. Finally, “Who knows what God wants anyway? How can I really know?” came to mind? This was the departure point for  me and most folks. The mysterious will of of God is now salient in my mind, erected in order to delay action. It even sounded righteous, and would allow me to sit down and rest from my efforts, but deep inside, I knew I was crafting a justification to go off course — or simply choose a new one.

I found myself in this state of mind the night before as I pondered the fact that I have a path to walk, and new work to embark on. A path and work that was established for me before the foundation of the world. Now there was no doubt that resources, health, and relational challenges had arisen from the moment I committed to it, but that comes with the territory. I started to relax, my eyes grew heavier, and as the news of the day droned on… the thoughts came.

“Here we go again into the nebulous.”

“You have done a lot, quite a bit actually.”

“You are putting too much pressure on yourself.”

“I mean look where you came from. This course is too risky. This cannot be sustained.”

“You need more time. You push yourself and others too hard. You expect too much.”

The fog of indecision was setting in. It was accompanied by fatigue, headache, and flu-like issues. I arose, reluctantly, from the couch to brush my teeth and shower. I continued to ponder my fleshly counsel, aided by the enemy. “Just chill, man.” These words floated through my mind as I pondered my next vacation. Internal conflict persisted, and a steady knowing was present. I knew what I had to do; continue in the current course of action. My last words of the day were these, “I rebuke you Satan.” The next morning I experienced the peace I wrote about earlier.

Our current state of affairs within the Body of Christ is not good. So many motivations and reasons to give up creep into our minds that we can’t number them all. If we all learned to trust that godly motivation, such as a steadying joy from doing the will of God will surpass all earthly motivations, we would be wise indeed. Our temptation to delay action would easily be overcome. Our resolve often fails with our motivation and delay and procrastination become patterns. The problem is hours turn into days, days to months, months to years, and years to decades. I enjoy sermons, fellowship, sports, worship music, friends, and great food. The reality is that these things ebb and flow in terms of what I can get from them, because they come from creatures. As Christians, Satan would prefer that we live our lives in a way that seeks constant, secondary, motivational sources that make us feel better and give us temporary hope for the problems at hand, while he subtly blinds us to the real internal motivation that causes sustained action and renders his deceptive power obsolete. God alone is that motivation. No amount of preaching, music, friends, or fellowship  can make a person act decisively on this truth. When the rubber meets the road, you’ll know where you are. Reaching for that favorite praise song won’t do. If you reach for God, you will discover the new life within is sufficient for all things.

Our failure to understand just how much we rely on created derivatives should be astounding. A derivative is something derived from something else. I would submit to you that we are drowning in the words and works of others. Ministers, musicians, artists, elders, family members, and numerous people we respect, look up to, and admire. (This does not even touch upon our reliance on technology and science as the answer to all pressing needs and issues.) We are told to seek God and His face for answers, but oh the shortcuts we take.

As a result of all these derivatives, we are confused. Confusion,  more often than not, comes about because we live our lives in a state of disarray and we have too many options before us that we are constantly mulling over, or we dogmatically cling to thoughts and beliefs that we need to shed — holding to them no matter how foolish they are. Confusion is a choice. It is different than ignorance. Ignorance is when we don’t know something. The answer to that is to wait until you do, or simply act on what we do know. Confusion sets in often when we reject truth for something else. Remember, often, when God leads us to do something, it cannot be accomplished in our own strength or by or own light. Our natural tendency is to fear and rebel against this. The end state is that we now don’t know what to do.

We have been deceived by our own lights, or the lights of others, our own constructs, and our abundance of learning. We have a form of godliness, broad lexicons, disciplines, and endless debates on faith — but we also have limited impact. Powerlessness is normative. We have faith that is tailored demographically and packaged to appeal to different populations. When, in fact, the Gospel is universal, and universally effective as a prescription for all issues. We see new believers with a great deal of initial excitement, but soon after, that fire proves to give way to tormenting questions that plague many Christians to this day:

“Am I really saved?”

“How mad is God at me right now?”

“Will God judge me?”

“Was I deceived?”

“Will I ever get better?”

Dear saints, our lights won’t do. We have exchanged peace for restlessness. We have sought the counsel of man over the Almighty Counselor. Our lights, once trusted, are now fading. They deceived us. The good news is this. He is the “Light of the World.” Isn’t it time to get back to that light. All that you know, or thought you knew… if it is not sustaining you… now you know why. My friend let’s not complicate this. Jesus is looking for the faith of children. A faith that expects an answer to their questions. A faith that loves and trusts their Father. Ask, and knock, and seek — and share.

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