I have loved today. It’s been full. It’s been creative. It’s been brimming with Holy Spirit revelation. And I am wonderfully challenged in the best possible way.
I was leading the devotional time for us all this morning, and in my usual-slightly-quirky style, we drew our visual meditations on John 13, and then interceded for the world using poetry. I was reading the news this morning, and was struck again in my prayer time by the heartbreaking conflicts in the Middle East. I guess in all the study of the Word, I am conscious that we don’t study in ivory-tower-isolation, but in the hope and desire that our communities, our neighbours and our world can be transformed by Jesus and redeemed for His purposes. Actually, the thought that really hit me from reading John 13 again this morning was a new one: Jesus touches the ugly parts of me and makes them beautiful. Feet aren’t stereotypically a beautiful body part, but Jesus’ touch makes them radiant. He loves me, and you, and us, to the end, and that love changes everything.
A number of thoughts from today remain with me.
We began our class time with some thoughts from Tozer, which really challenge the way we approach the study of Scripture. And this thought of ministering out of the Presence of God is key. Have I met God for myself? Do I find God utterly delightful? Tozer said that effective service can never just come from doctrinal understanding, but that men and women with ‘breaking hearts’ before God speak with authority.
We see this in Moses. He led with authority because He knew the Presence of God.
And if we understand Scripture as a many-storied text, containing stories about God’s experience with humanity and their experience with God, it helps us to make sense of what God is doing.
What is the narrative shape of theology?
I love that question! Theology isn’t some stilted, boring, attempt to gain more knowledge. It is a living engagement with the living book or a living God. It contains real stories and expressions of experience. This is some of the reason I am challenged to approach the Word of God so humbly… I know that I don’t have all the answers, and I am becoming more aware that sometimes, I don’t even ask the right questions. I believe the whole Bible is the inspired and wonderful, precious Word of God. I know the Gospel beautifies. But do I have all the answers or the right interpretation of everything? No. I don’t. And that’s ok. Because I’m journeying this whole thing out hand-in-hand with my Father.
I have sometimes wondered why so many genuinely God-fearing, Bible believing men and women can come to such different conclusions on Biblical texts and their application. ‘Controversial’ issues like predestination, or once-saved-always-saved, or divorce, or women in ministry… Or, or, or… The list goes on. I’m a big reader, and I have read so many persuasive books on these issues and more that I know that I respect so many people who just seem to wrestle… With the text, with each other, with what is truth. And as I sit right now, I guess I come back to the fact that wrestling with these issues is ok… Admitting we are wrestling is ok… As long as we operate in a spirit of grace of deep love for each other. In the Spirit of grace and deep love. And I am so amazed that we trust a God who sees hearts, and sees the pursuit of righteousness and loves us in the journey. I can’t wait to see Him face to face one day and see all my questions answered!!
Anyway, I digress… Back to Tozer.
Moses was a prophet.
Prophets had been in the Presence of God and reported what they saw there.
Tozer compared this to the ‘scribe’, who tells us what he has read. The prophet tells us what he has seen.
Take that in.
The scribe tells us what he has read. The prophet tells us what he has seen.
Tozer also said this: that the voice of the scribe was hard… Yet the prophet has a tender voice because he has gazed upon God and lived in His Presence.
Now that doesn’t mean that the message of the prophet is easy… It means it is communicated tenderly.
And that hit me.
Because I want to be a prophet.
I long to grow in my knowledge of God and my knowledge of His Word and walk humbly with Him. I long to dwell deeply and richly in His Presence, sitting at His feet and gazing on His beauty. Because then, I can be a prophet of that beauty. I can look through His eyes, and see the beauty-from-ashes that He intends for this dark world. I can walk with Him and be His hands and feet.
But, confession-time: there have been so many times I’ve approached the Word like a scribe. I’d spouted off Bible verses with a harsh, zealous, ‘I’ve-read-this-and-know-best’ mentality. But I long to be a prophet. Who speaks the Word of God appropriately, and handles it wisely, and communicates it tenderly, in the image of the God whose kindness leads us to repentance.
My heart longs for Him more than any other. I enjoy His Presence more than any competing-for-my-time place. His song is the joy of my heart.
And I have been so blessed this week, to spend time with some incredibly wise men and women of God, who have heard my story, and spoken tenderly and prophetically into my life, and affirmed that these next steps I take are rooted in the will of God, overflowing from a desire to please Him, and a blessing in His sight. These prophets help me to apply the Word to my life, in a way that brings the hope of a future restored by grace.
I. Am. Blessed. Full. Stop.
And just as we ended today with some wonderful words by a theologian I love, Yoder. So I will highlight them to end this blog post.
He was talking about ministering in ‘the city’, in the place where ‘I know I don’t know anything’. And he said this: ‘In the city… We know the goodness of the power of God to change the ugly into the beautiful. And the difference that the Resurrected Christ makes in everything.’
The quote actually brings tears to my eyes. Because that’s the reality. Our God changes the ugly into the beautiful. His life means I live. His love changes everything. What a Saviour.
P.s. I went for Japanese food tonight with my parents… And my Dad ate a whole meal… With chopsticks! Those of you who know my Dad know this is a great miracle. I am proud.