This week I learned a new word. The events at the Pentagon and at the World Trade Center last Tuesday are so extremely awful that it stretches our vocabulary to describe them.
I was discussing these “horrific” events with one of my neighbors down at the gas station yesterday when he said he believed God was “calling people back to church.” While I certainly couldn’t disagree with what the gentleman was saying, I believe that the ultimate intention of God is to call people back to “Himself.” I believe further that when God calls people to himself, there is within that calling the implication of building relationships with them. God can and does use many methods to accomplish his purposes. I would have to say, however, that the events of last Tuesday would not be “my preferred way” of building relationships.
Shortly before all this happened, my wife, Marlene had been sharing some gleanings from Psalm thirty-two. In the ninth verse God is saying that he doesn’t want his people to be without “understanding;” people who need, like “horse and mule,” to be directed by a “bit and bridle.” Rather, God wants our understanding to be “taught” and “instructed” (verse 8) to the point where he can “guide us with his eye.” It is hard to build much of a relationship with a mule.
In the aftermath of last Tuesday, it is both inevitable and appropriate that we will be frequently taken back to that great “If my people…” verse found in II Chron. 7:14. I am glad for the spirit of repentance across our land: I am glad that our president set aside a National Day of Prayer: and I am glad that our churches have been open for prayer and that powerful testimonies of God’s grace and faithfulness have been unashamebly broadcast across the airwaves this week. But while all this praying for “forgiveness of sins” and “healing of land” is taking place, I find it important to remember that God said one of the components of our repentance was to “seek His face.” Ever wonder how one would go about doing that?
This week God arrested our “mule-likeness” and gave the “bit” a hard pull to the right. Our country’s resulting repentance is appropriate and necessary. I feel certain however, that soon, way too soon, the events of this week, “horrific” as they are; will pass into history, and many of us, without spiritual “understanding” will rush back to business as usual. Only where spiritual relationships are grown will we see long-term benefits for the kingdom of God.
In the first recorded interaction of God with his people we see him coming into the garden at the end of the day, sitting down and talking with them. Somehow I believe such fellowship would give God much greater satisfaction than tugging on some rein. Why not invite him over for dinner with your family tonight?
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20 (KJV)
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