Everything Is Symbolic part 4 Randomonium

“And He said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:11-12, emphasis mine)

This is Elijah’s encounter with God.

Case studies

But look again at all the activity going on in the top passage. I’m sure there some sort of order and structure to the things, the pandemonium that happened after “the Lord passed by”. Nahum (1:3) says that “the clouds are the dust of His feet”. In other words, the clouds are a symbol that God has already come and gone. I find that if you really want to see God, you have to wait. Stand where you are and make a conscious decision to follow Him. And God will take you at your word and put you through the paces required to actually see Him. Because He’s coming. He’s coming for your prayer or desire or what-have-you and the only thing you can do to stop Him is doubt. Don’t worry about committing a “sin”. Doubt and unbelief happen far below any actual un-pleasing outworking in our behavior. It’s that kind of meticulousness you need to build up in order to see Him and not get distracted with any details you might think are Him but aren’t really. This isn’t to say Elijah was hoodwinked by the “wind” or the “earthquake” or the “rocks”. I can’t say Moses had any less a quality encounter than do we when we seek the Lord’s face.

“And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that He turned aside to see…” (Exodus 3:3-4a)

There’s a bit of a difference to the two men’s interaction with the Almighty. Elijah encountered God only after the activity ceased whereas Moses spoke to God in the midst of the fire. I don’t really have anything to say on the matter except that it’s how God chose to do it. This isn’t to say that all the things you feel are God speaking only to you, aren’t. Quite the opposite actually. They most likely are indeed God. But until you know how He’s already spoken–both through men like Moses and Elijah and also Jesus–it’s hard to discern His voice through all the activity. Don’t stop. God will calm the storm of input if you hold out for His voice only.

“Seek the Lord, and His strength: seek His face evermore.” (Psalm 105:4)

Out of Our Shell (Things That Go Without Saying part 6)

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.” (Psalm 62:5, emphasis mine)

There comes a point in our walk with Christ where those who buoyed us in time past are not the ones the Lord would have us look to at present. This doesn’t mean they’re not the same person they’ve always been, just that you’ve crested a point from which they held a piece you needed and now …! There are other realms in which God would have you walk. Again, not that they’re not still in your circle, just that your sphere has expanded.

Avoid

“He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.” (Proverbs 13:3)

Because after a point, continuing to open up that part of your heart, repeating those things that could’ve been fully healed with silence, will actually prevent it from occurring. And moving forward, unless the Lord deliberately wants to continue referencing the wounds, wisdom says to keep quiet. You’ll know. If you listen for the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, you’ll know when a channel is meant to stay off. Even those who are still open to hearing what’s going on may not know it’s time to stop referring to the thing in question, but God does. He wants your heart to be healed and whole so that you can continue to walk before Him in the ways that He showed you. Some people come and go, it’s just the way it is.

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.” (Philippians 4:10)

Ovoid

But this isn’t to say things don’t come around. After you walk a while with your newfound strength, you may also find that the wound threatens to reopen. The enemy may still try and stir up something you thought was dormant if not dead–in the best sense of the word. God sees the deep reasons why aspects of our lives again come under the microscope. And if the person(s) who helped you aforetime aren’t around for whatever reason, you’re sure to be comforted by God in ways you might not expect. God delights in surprising us and the more you walk with Him, the more He’s able to come up behind you and shore you up.

Commanding Presence

“When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.” (Luke 14:8-9, emphasis mine)

Notice how it’s the one “that bade thee and him”. Only God can tell you “where to go”, so to speak. If you walk into a wedding–or anywhere for that matter–and assert yourself with the intent of “taking someone’s seat”, you’re gonna look the fool.

Eschewing echelons

All through the word of God, the dichotomy of echelons comes into play. Where we’re expected to revere God above all else and also humble ourselves in turn. It might sound like the former would obviously precede the thinking on and doing of the latter. But let me just say right here that when you acknowledge the Lord as “far above all heavens” (Ephesians 4:10), He lifts you up with Him. “That He may set him (and her) with princes, even with the princes of His people.” (Psalm 113:8) There’s a lot going on in God’s kingdom. Orders and rank-and-file and levels. All of which, Jesus descended through in order to make contact with the lowest. But we then have to continue to make a conscious decision to remain humble in light of the vantage point God gives us. And so, this:

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:10)

This is one of the reasons I have so vehement a response towards those who seek to command my attention and respect and, in a word, validation upon entering a place–whether them or me. They may indeed be accomplished, outstanding in their field, etc. But I don’t know this. Nothing about anyone says they deserve any more consideration than I would afford anyone else. Lest you think I’m standoffish or unkind or impersonal, I will say that I have a highly attuned sense of affectation. Both in myself and others. And if I come on too strong in the presence of another, I immediately (is it the Holy Spirit?) feel I’ve transgressed a bubble, some personal space. Likewise with others, too. At the first scent of posturing in order to receive that little extra glance, or thought or notice, I turn off. I don’t walk around thinking I have what it takes to add to you in order to make you become what you want to be in the eyes of the world. And I know that others don’t have what it takes to make me become what I desire to be in the eyes of God. Only He can give me what I need to be who He needs me to be. Get it from Him. The only person whose attention we can rightfully command is God’s and it’s by being humble.

“He ruleth by His power for ever; His eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah. O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of His praise to be heard: Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.” (Psalm 66:7-9)

In closing, I would like to say that no one person is the enemy. Forgive the person who you sense prevents you from being at ease. And if you look around and don’t see anyone, forgive yourself.

Foreign Wars

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1)

The good fight

Think about all the hell and trenches you went through prior to receiving Christ. All that torment, the fighting and pain and sorrow. All that stuff was effectively whisked away with your new birth. And as history is written by the victors, you now can let God create for you the life you want. Think about the things you stood for and stood by when you were “taken captive by [the devil] at his will” (2 Timothy 2:26). Now, all that stuff can be overhauled, truly yours and also backed by the power and might of the Holy Spirit. We see this. We know this. All present circumstances and misery and suffering we go through now notwithstanding, God wants to “do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20). So why, as James politely asks in the top, do we still have anything to do with the battles that sought to keep us from Christ in the first place?

Civil wars

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

Things like gossip and class distinction and agoraphobia (admittedly, I still have a hard times, sometimes, being in a crowded place–I don’t freak out like I used to but I’m still not a hundred percent comfortable). Other things like blaming others–gender notwithstanding–for the things that God would readily supply. Things of war–the wrong kind. These are things that cause us to act in accordance with a very real enemy. One that cannot be seen with our eyes but whose thoughts and emotions can find purchase (and theater) in our heads and hearts. The outcome of which is designed to cause God’s kingdom to shrink. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other” (Galatians 5:17) I find that forgiveness is the key. The laying down of whatever weapon we brandish to the hurt of others and ourselves. And God. Widescale amnesty has been provided through Christ. Forgiveness for all and everything. By taking part in the, uh, “bad fight” for lack of a better term, we take arms against the one who set us free to fight for Him.

“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:7-8)

Nervous Systems

“A possibility is a hint from God. One must follow it.” Soren Kierkegaard

Sometimes, though, the possibilities we see don’t come from God. I believe that each neutral outcome can be both to His liking and also ours. But any others, ones that don’t seem to line up with the “good”, tend to cause worry.

“Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” (1 Timothy 5:23)

Wracking up points

All the worry I expended never went anywhere. Doesn’t mean I don’t still do it. But this pattern. This pattern of “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” (Philippians 3:13)–the downsides to such–still tries to overwhelm me. What’s the one thought that diverts me off and on to the rails of worry and anxiety and fretting over things that are ultimately inconsequential? God knows.

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.” (Psalm 37:7-8)

All the worry in the world, when you’re a child of God, adds up to a bunch of smoke and mirrors. God, being the good father He is, allows us to see possibilities and potentialities that look like they’d pan out in the negative. With or without our help does this stuff look to derail. And if we don’t take necessary steps–out of common sense–it very well may. I’m not talking about lying down and doing nothing for its own sake. I’m talking about responding to the very-real worry that tries to get in. The stuff that’s never going to happen but we don’t know that. These are the thoughts that don’t belong in our head and heart.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

When the dust settles

I noticed a dust mite floating in the middle distance today. I focused my eyes upon it and watched it descend to the floor. This is something I’ve noticed ever since I’ve been noticing and yet today, something struck me. I realized that this is where God dwells. Anyone observing me would have thought I was looking at the floor or lost in thought. It wasn’t any of that. It was something happening at that instance that I alone got to observe. And I realized the place God dwells is without time. Without worry and without hurriedness, if that makes sense. That fleck of dust means less than nothing in the grand scheme of things. All the rush of activitiy that roiled around me didn’t do anything to affect it. And even I, with all that was going on, had no bearing on what it did. It just was and then it was gone. But God remains. At once, more still, and also more present than all of it. He’s here to help, share your worries with Him and watch Him whisk them away.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

A Moment’s Notice

Simplicity is key. Slowing down to acknowledge the beautiful things that run in the background of our lives will maintain that simplicity. When a period of suffering ends and we have both thing we’d been living towards, and also that emergence into a freer-feeling way of life, we’ll come upon this other thing: the things that threaten to drag us down into feeling miserable or bored or otherwise discontent–still dog us.

“They return at evening: they make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city.” (Psalm 59:6)

Blah, blah, blah

If you’ve prayed at any time in your life for God to use you in a greater capacity, screens of torment will impose themselves and seek to ever darken your outlook as you continue to move through your life. If you look back, you’ll see that the things that bothered you then (whenever that was) most likely don’t affect you the same way. But you’ve grown and the (in my case) depression seeks to keep up. This doesn’t mean it’s your lot in life. As a child of God, you’re entitled to the joys and atmosphere of Heaven here on earth. It’s your (re)birthright. But as we get older in the Lord and hopefully stronger, the effort required to see and pray through the fog increases. Now, it may not be like this for everyone but if the preceding applies, God may be using you to clear out the spiritual darkness from an area–be it wide-scale or small. Until the darkness has exhausted its grip, you’ll encounter this ever present feeling. Hang in there and take notice of small things.

“And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” (Exodus 3:2-3)

Just one little particular can lead you into the time of forgetting. Of forgetting how you felt and how your day was just another of all the ones over which you thought you’d vaulted. One moment spent acknowledging God (in whatever way you choose and it can be as long as you like) can diffuse out into the ether–and clear the air. Think about it. And do it if need be.

That little moment and whatever it was that distracted you to it was most likely God trying to get your attention. Follow Him down that rabbit trail.

Diminishing Returns

“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience…” (Hebrews 10:35-36a)

One thing after another

This is very important. If we don’t go into a new season from the bottom, up, we may be expecting something other than what God had planned. Granted, He “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20) but sometimes it’s more along the lines of some other aspect of our life, not the one in question. We invested. And we’ll reap the reward if we hang in there. But fixating on one right way to harvest may end in making us miserable. The reward is that we got to participate in whatever God was doing at the time and place.

“But He answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?” (Matthew 20:13)

I can’t help but think Jonah faced a similar torment. After he tried to escape, leaving the work of God for someone–anyone else, the Lord reeled him back in. What did he expect? I can’t say I know but that it seems he was more than perturbed (why?)at how things turned out, in spite of the fact God spared Ninevah and all its inhabitants. Remaining grateful we have “our Father who art in Heaven” is where it’s at. Everything flows from there. When “wisdom” speaks from Proverbs (8:30), she says she “was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him”. It says in Job (38:7) how “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” The angels and the Holy Spirit in the former–granted, we’re referring to primeval times–know something we don’t. If, as described in the two verses, there’s something above our narrow window on wants and needs and timeframes, then there’s always something to rejoice about. How ’bout this:

“for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5b)

And after that…?

I must confess I have a problem with this. Where my reach exceeds my grasp and there’s always something for which I’m pining or whining. This is part of the human condition but the “whiny” part. We don’t get to see everything going on. Another day will always come with something new, untested, uncharted. “If we’re still here, God’s not finished with us yet.” We all know this and have heard it bandied about ad nauseam. Just put it in your own words. And after that, tack on a “thank You” or the like and let God bring you up to and into the next thing.

A Most Vehement Flame

“Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.” (Song of Solomon 8:6, emphasis mine)

“[They] that sweareth to [their] own hurt, and changeth not.” (Psalm 15:4b)

Well put. If we’re honest with ourselves–and honest in general–we know we’re made for one person. There’s all sorts of places to go with this but that one person. That one person for whom we’d give our all, to whom we’d give our heart and strength and life. Under God, I believe that we’re made for one and only one and this is what gives rise to jealousy. And the jealousy described in the above sounds about as poetic as one could wax on the subject.

But we change too, don’t we? This is a fact of life. Granted: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8) But we’re turning more and more into the likeness that is both based on Him and also the originality with which He planted in us when He made us. Praise God. Waiting on God to make Him into who we are and also for us to be comfortable in that (two different things) is what will kill the wrong kind of jealousy. If you’re looking to someone else–whoever it may be–to complete you without first realizing you’re already “complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10), you’re gonna have a bad time down the road. Because you’ll change and something deep may fracture and that’s not good. Doesn’t mean God can’t heal it and that it can’t in turn be stronger than before. But you could circumnavigate all that by waiting. It’s hard and it might hurt (a lot), don’t let anyone tell you different.

“I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” (Isaiah 42:8)

“Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.” (Galatians 4:8)

So that word in Hebrew translated “vehement flame” is shalhebeth. A “flare” (Strong’s). You can understand how one of the names of God would be “El Qanna”–the jealous one. Because He has a heart only for you. This is why the Israelites were spoken of as having gone “a whoring” after other gods. God takes very seriously the time and effort and attention (all love) that has gone into preparing the way for us.

Two Left Hands

“…for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

My brother’s a lefty, a southpaw. Neither matter much as he was and is accepted either way. Look at me reference the tail end of a superstitious time when people were viewed with disdain depending on (a negative) chiral orientation. Where someone born left-handed (I heard that all babies are born lefties but may change handedness) was seen as possessed or evil or what-have-you. Thank God for science. As he is the one left-handed member of our family, I’m kinda jealous. If I had to describe the feeling of needing to do stuff with my left side, it’d be that of powerlessness.

Super partners

“His left hand is under my head, and His right hand doth embrace me.” (Song of Solomon 2:6)

It really doesn’t matter, does it? I find that the embrace of Jesus is the best thing ever. If, as Solomon writes, there’s a distinction in the order and placement of handedness, more power to Him. And I don’t meant to be flippant. He’s the Creator, I’m the created. Can you imagine being born with two left hands? More power to them, too. But, as cited up top, the things of the kingdom happen no other way than through Christ.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit:” (John 15:4-5a)

Yes. This is true. This is gospel. We don’t realize how much we’re dependent upon the Lord for even the simplest of things. And the simpler and smaller it is, the more important it tends to be. Think graviton. If, as theoretical physicists posit, the graviton has its own antiparticle, then there’s nothing to worry about. The idea though, if you zoom out to life size, is to have every action–inaction, reaction, whatever–be infused with Christlikeness. It’s a wonderful thing to bear fruit. But don’t get your eyes off the Vine.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, emphasis mine)

Mabushii

“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:32)

Defendant

That’s how it starts. We know we’re guilty, this ambiguous, if vacuous stain tells on our conscience and we try throughout our life to erase it. Thank God you have a conscience, by the way. Supposing one doesn’t, doesn’t mean the Lord can’t break through. Just a little extra prayer, patience, petition would be needed, I suppose. I, for one, am grateful the Lord used my Dad to, sort of, uh, munificently hold me back even as I grew older–to ensure I knew how to feel correctly. But then I met Jesus for myself and as time went on, He allowed me to understand how He stood in my place. How He made it possible for me to stand before God, not in my own righteousness but in His.

Diffident

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.” (Proverbs 4:23-24)

But it doesn’t mean the struggles weren’t over or they weren’t still there. I suppose, citing the latter verse in the above passage, a main issue the Lord worked me through was that of making sure the words I spoke resonated with the new life within. Just because we have a new birth in Christ Jesus doesn’t mean we still won’t deal with Satan or any of his attendants or thoughts or what-have-you. As a Christian, though, the missives, or “fiery darts” as Paul put it (Ephesians 6:16), were now aimed at the downside to my temperament. I would receive no help from the other side, so to speak, as I had sought to align my conscience and now my words, with Christ. Being a writer is the natural outworking of a gift (from God) designed to traffic in words so as to elucidate things invisible–both in me and in God. It’s just how it is.

Dissident

“Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.” (Psalm 50:2)

Again, the battle’s not over. Just because I received a piece of myself, wrought irreducible through the fires of hell and torment and depression, doesn’t mean I just ignore “the Lord that bought [me]” (2 Peter 2:1). If I lay down and accept the beauty of my present to the neglect of “the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4), it will while away (see Psalm 39:11) and I’ll be left high and dry. Things won’t work. This is why we all have our respective “thorns in the flesh”. But any fear as to the turning-around-and-using-against-me the things for which Christ died and left in the grave is now gone. I have an obligation to do as the tippy-top prescribes. To use what the Lord has given me to in turn bless others.