Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Sometimes I get tired.
I don't say that to complain. I used to have a friend who said, "I'm not complaining. I'm just stating facts." I also am stating a fact, and I state it not because I think that I get more tired than other people, or because I think my tiredness is more significant than other people's. On the contrary, I state this fact because I think others besides me probably get tired too, and we need to encourage one another to keep on in hope, despite our fatigue.
Have you noticed how good things make you tired in one way, a good kind of tired that often leads to deep sleep, while bad things drain your energy and leave you empty and hurting?
Lately, I have experienced both highs and lows. My soul has sung in praise to God. My heart has also been torn and bruised, crying to the Lord for help and for mercy. I've seen blessings poured out; concrete, measurable answers to prayer; the sovereign hand of God directing circumstances. I've seen the words of the Bible come to life in the events of my days.
I've born witness to the acts of God, given glory to His name, and I've been told to stop, that wasn't God after all, nevermind, just a coincidence. Like Elijah after Mount Carmel, when Jezebel remained unaffected and rebounded by threatening his life, I flee to the desert exhausted and longing for an angel to cook me a meal, longing to hear the whisper of God's gentle voice in my ear.
God can direct the heart of a king like a watercourse. He is in control of all things. Yet, He does not force a stubborn heart to bend. He holds out the power of the Holy Spirit as a gift to any who will humbly enter into relationship with Him, yet He does not force Himself on anyone, ever. He opens blind eyes, unstops deaf ears. He enables the lame to walk, and cures those with leprosy. Yet, it is those who call to Him whom He answers, those with a desire for healing.
God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23). Indeed, He takes no pleasure in anyone's death (Ezekiel 18:32). He wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). He is patient, not wanting any to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
I stack these truths against verses like Isaiah 46:10, where God says that His purpose will stand and He will do all that He pleases. In Psalm 115:3, we read that God is in heaven, and He does whatever pleases Him. He does not get frustrated about things that do not go His way. He has the absolute power and ability to make things go His way.
Here's the question: If God desires that all men be saved, and if He has the power to do whatever He desires, then why won't all men be saved?
I don't know.
The Bible does clearly state that not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, the Bible says that the road to life is a narrow road beyond a small gate, and only a few find it. The gospels record ominous parables about wedding banquets that people can't get into, and about the separation of sheep and goats, wheat and tares. Revelation tells us that nothing impure will ever enter heaven, nor anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
And yet, God desires for all men to be saved. It is the deceiving wile of the devil that prevents salvation. God's Holy Spirit illuminates truth, convicts hearts with the truth, and battles deception on every level.
Our battle, Ephesians 6 tells us, is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
God is mighty to save. Long ago, He saved Israel from slavery to Egypt with His outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. In our day, He will save His children from slavery to sin with His outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.
Psalm 60:12 tells us that with God we will win the victory; God will trample down our enemies. Remember, our enemies are not flesh and blood. Our enemies are the spiritual forces of evil. But God is greater. God is above all spiritual powers, infinitely above, and He always has been. As the jewel in the crown of God's absolute authority, Jesus has battled Satan and triumphed, clearly and decisively, by dying on the cross, carrying the cumulative sins of all humanity down to hell, and then bursting forth, free, perfect, pure and resurrected. Jesus has already done this. If God is for us, who can stand against us? There is no power that can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world.
And yet, I get tired. Because God is able. He is almighty. He is sovereign, glorious and victorious. He is also compassionate, merciful, gracious, loving and zealous to save. He is the healer, the restorer of souls, the deliverer from evil.
But He doesn't force Himself on people.
And, remarkably, people reject Him all the time. Even when He is actively reaching out to them, even when He answers prayers and performs miracles.
This makes me very tired.
Hold me together, Lord Jesus. Oh Lord Jesus, have mercy and help us all.
Help us not to despair, because You never do.
Help us always to pray and never give up (Luke 18:1).
Sustain us in our tiredness; let us find rest in You.