I have my ups and downs, to say the least. I believe that I am trying — often that I am doing my best…until I am faced with hard evidence to the contrary.
Recently, I clicked on a video by Brother Ken Gurley, entitled, “Am I Backsliding? Seven Road Signs to Spiritual Siberia.” I felt I had clicked pretty much “at random.” I have heard his devotionals before, but do not make a habit of catching them.
As I took in his description of choices that will take us farther from God, or that signal we have already become dangerously comfortable with our distance from Him, I was sobered to realize too many of them sounded strikingly familiar.
That was Thursday morning, February 18.
Friday night, February 19, as I was lying down for the night, I reached for my phone. I was about to do another round of the ritual review of Facebook, email, and like activities when it crossed my mind to change things up and click on Holy Ghost Radio instead (HolyGhostRadio.com).
A lady was speaking about our need to be prayer warriors and how our trials come to get us to a deeper place in God. (I apologize that I do not recall her name.) Two statements she made especially stood out. First, she challenged us to recognize that the things we want to see God do in our lives will not happen simply because we want them to: they will happen when we fall on our faces before God and seek Him diligently for Him to bring them to pass. Secondly, she stated that God already has a date set for our trial to end. “God has already set a date…”
After hearing that message and another one with similar challenges, I went to my prayer spot. As I was settling in to pray, I saw a small notebook had slipped from a storage box at some point and landed right in front of where I was about to plant my face to pray. I almost didn’t pick it up, since my mind was made up to pray right then, but it kept standing out to me. I finally picked it up and opened it “at random.” Remember, this was February 19. I had just heard a messaged that stressed, “God has already set a date for your trial to end.”
The page I opened to was one of two or three sets of message notes I had taken almost twenty years ago: February 20, 2002. On February 19 I opened a notebook I had not looked into for almost two decades “at random” to the date of the next day. What was the message about? REPENTANCE.
Over the next hour or so in prayer, God opened my heart to see the paths I had quietly been walking for awhile that were taking me farther and farther from His will and His ways. A restlessness I had been experiencing came into better view. Pursuits I had focused my energy and attention toward were shown up to be far out of the bounds of what God had called me to do and who He wanted me to be: a warrior to changes things on my knees. I am not called to “exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me,” as KING David confessed of himself, Psalm 131:1.
The meekness test
Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth, Numbers 12:3
Some Bible words I have struggled to fully understand over the years. I have a general concept in most cases, but realize that I would not use the word to express myself to others: a key indicator that it doesn’t resonate in my lexicon.
I believe through the experience I am describing, I grasped an idea of the true meaning of meekness: the state of understanding how fully we need God’s mercy and love and grace and care and guiding and…I suppose that list would be endless.
After finding a place of deep repentance, from things you would probably find boring if described, but yet shown to cause too much distance between my precious Lord and me, the picture of my spirit and heart for God having grown weaker and cooler that should have ever been was fearful to me.
I have felt badly over those things before, but I do not believe I reached the point of repentance that brought a state of meekness in the past. The tipping point came with a hunger to go forward in a manner that — more that simply avoiding the mistakes again — caused me to desire to go deeper in God and be closer than ever to Him, knowing my heart was clean and uncompromised on the inside.
It was that quiet knowledge that I could not walk that was unless He kept me and sustained me and provided me His mercies new every morning that gave me an understanding of the concept of meekness.
What about our biblical example? Moses was considered the meekest man who ever lived. Was this characteristic always part of his life? How meek was he while raking sand over the body of that Egyptian task master? As he drove away the shepherds from the well at Midian so Zipporah and her sisters could draw water?
Perhaps there was some meekness in his life then, but I submit that forty years of tending sheep and reliving what had gone wrong in his life when he knew should have been a deliverer for his people — the family he abandoned in Egypt — brought Moses to a point of knowing he was nothing on his own. In fact, at one point in the wilderness journey, he cried out, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence,” Exodus 33:15. He never reached a place of feeling he could do this work by his strength and wisdom. He must have the Spirit of God working to go even the next step forward.
What other example has stood out to you in the Bible regarding the quality of meekness? This one may not be on your list, but I have frequently thought of it lately. In addition to words I sometimes stumble over in my understanding of the Word of God, there are instances in the biblical record that have stumped me.
One of these was the root meaning behind the two different sacrifices offered by Cain and Abel, the first offspring of Adam and Eve. You recall how Abel initiated the process of offering at all by bringing a lamb from his flock to sacrifice to God. He was a keeper of sheep. Cain, on the other hand was a “tiller of the ground,” and brought of the abundance of his produce. God accept Abel’s offering but warned Cain that he could make amends and accepted also. That went poorly, with Cain ignoring God’s warnings and eventually killing his brother: a pattern that has repeated itself over history.
Pardon me my wonderings, but over the years, I have pondered how Cain and Abel were to know the nature of the sacrifices God expected to be offered. The Law of Moses was still thousands of years away. Abraham would not come on the scene for generations.
The experience of their parents was obviously a large factor in their understanding of how to relate to the God who had created them. But I am so literal, and the fact that God did not command the same sacrifice He made in order to clothe Adam and Eve with skins after their grievous sin to be repeated, nor did the Word record their ever doing so, left me room for questions. No sacrifice is recorded until Abel chose to do so, though nothing in the Word says that sacrifices were not offered.
All this background information is for this purpose: After many years of visiting this idea, in my recent review of who I am and where I stand, I found a concept of what perhaps motivated Abel that had not occurred to me in the past. I fully believe his sacrifice came from a heart that saw how deeply he needed the mercy and forgiveness of his Maker. More than anyone, he felt his own humanity, his capacity for error, his potential to grieve the Lover of his soul. If there was anything Abel could do to reach deeply into a connection with the heart of his God, that was his desire. No casual approach or offering could meet the need of his own heart to be covered by the help and the hand of the One who had created him for His own pleasure.
No indication can be unearthed that Cain deeply felt a need to connect with God in a way that would change him. The result was tragic.
Why would I focus on this distinction? A man after God’s own heart would much later say: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psalm 51:17
The final thought
What about me? I feel I have hit a place of repentance, but if I do not remain in a state of repentance, I will be like the a tree we once cut down in the back yard. I began to notice shoots coming off the tree months later, but did not address them. As I continued to put off any action, another tree had slowly grown up from the one had been dealt with years before.
I need the “mercy new every morning” to be applied to my life. I need to the crucify the flesh every day: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life must be dealt with daily. My heart must be open to God’s Word, work, and desire to have His will to be done in me every day.