Knocking The Knots Off of The Big Sticks

My identity as Abba’s child is not an abstraction or a tap dance into religiosity. It is the core truth of my existence. Living in the wisdom of accepted tenderness profoundly affects my perception of reality, the way I respond to people and their life situations. How I treat my brothers and sisters from day to day, whether they be Caucasian, African, Asian, or Hispanic; how I react to the sin-scarred wino on the street; how I respond to interruptions from people I dislike; how I deal with ordinary people in their ordinary unbelief on an ordinary day will speak the truth of who I am more poignantly than the pro-life sticker on the bumper of my car. We are not for life simply because we are warding off death. We are sons and daughters of the Most High and maturing in tenderness to the extent that we are for others—all others—to the extent that no human flesh is strange to us, to the extent that we can touch the hand of another in love, to the extent that for us there are no “others.”
~Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God…. There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And He said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke 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 the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a Voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
~ Epic Truth in 1 Kings 18

Oh beloved, it is true. We wax strong in His Grace. As we reckon true the preamble to the Gospel, we come to see that our weakness is pervasive. It goes through and through. And the mystery is that seed of Himself that grows within us is incredibly powerful – more so than we could have ever imagined being on our own.

We pray and the fabric of time and space is moved.
We give and it multiplies by the thousands.
We share and hearts are moved.
We touch people and they are healed.

We can hear Him. The sound of many waters courses through our consciousness. We begin lose our belief in G_d. Belief is no longer necessary. His Spirit simply tells us what we need to hear, and our unwillingness to obey is really only a memory.

Then come the battles. Waves of imps and demons do the things they do very well. Their strength is surely beyond anything this fool of a writer could ever imagine. But, their power is still finite – and Him in me, and i in Him trump this power. Actually, it has been put to open shame.

And in experiencing the victories we actually get to witness the very gates of hades shaking on their hinges. They are tottering and will not stand. It does not matter what scheme gets tried. Everything runs out of fuel; politics, religion, war, fashion, technology… all of it falters.

But can we see it? Their is still one very formidable enemy that must be fixed, and destroyed if victory is to be total and the victor is to inherit the spoils of this final and most important war. The enemy is me – at least that old part of me that wants to leap in and take the credit for all the progress my Life in Him is making.

And so, He does seem to allow that old me to raise its head once in a while. But not that it might gain any sort of eminence again. Rather, as the old man pops up his head, The Spirit is ready with a test that the flesh cannot win, but for the destroying of the part that is emerging.

Said more simply: G_d will test us to the point of failure. And in the rebuilding, He will cut away another part of us that cannot enter into eternity and the Kingdom. We are being made ready for a life beyond death, and chance and time, and nothing of this life can ever hope to survive in such a milieu.

This fool of a writer just had a pretty big knot knocked of the stick of who he is this weekend. He has fashioned me well, and His Power is quite real in my life. But the work is not done. I have learned to relish the truth that He is making me just like Himself – but the pain of the death of my ego is so very painful.

But can i tell you one more foolish thing? The pain is delicious, and the victories that come beyond the pain are even more amazing. You beloved, are not alone. There are many who have let Him have His way with us – through and through. Just let Him work. You are almost Home.

Tonight is your night dear reader. Let Him test you to failure. Victory lies beyond the removal of the “you” in the process.

For the Christian, this second journey usually occurs between the ages of thirty and sixty and is often accompanied by a second call from the Lord Jesus. The second call invites us to serious reflection on the nature and quality of our faith in the gospel of grace, our hope in the new and not yet, and our love for God and people. The second call is a summons to a deeper, more mature commitment of faith where the naiveté, first fervor, and untested idealism of the morning and the first commitment have been seasoned with pain, rejection, failure, loneliness, and self-knowledge.”
~ Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out

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