Part of what I love about Christianity, and part of what separates it out from every other worldview is its view of the incarnation, the fact that God became flesh and lived among us. What is perhaps most astonishing about that doctrine is the historic teaching of just how God lived among us. He didn't live a celebrity life of ease and comfort, nor did He live a separated life of abstract philosophical pontification, but rather took the form of a suffering servant and entered into the thick and thistles of human suffering to experience it fully with His people.
God invited them to a season of repentance and returning that was marked by quiet and trust. Sound at all familiar? Perhaps, what we are experiencing now is an invitation to a quieting of our hearts and a returning to God in repentance and trust. What is tragic, is that Isaiah tells us that many of the people of Jerusalem missed it. Instead of quiet submission, they returned to the very sources of supposed strength that they had placed their hope in and which had kept them from God in the first place. Let us not waste this season of returning in the same way.
Job's search for wisdom leads him to the end of his own rope, which he finds in the dirt at the feet of his Lord. Wisdom is seeing God as more, not as less. Wisdom is worship of a big God, not manipulation of a small one. Wisdom is more obedience, more awe, more wonder, more faith, more trust, more worship, more of God, and altogether less of us. That's true wisdom.
Gideon was the same weak man, the people were still in their same immediate difficult plight, but the reality of God's presence changed the prospects of God's people. The promise of God's power, changed the potential of God's chosen servant. Gideon stepped into the reality of being a mighty man of valor not by changing who he was, but by remembering who he was with, and more significantly, who was with him.
Sarah is such a lesson to us. She had waited and waited and waited for her son, and then he arrived. You would think that the story would tell us that she lived content as a result for the rest of her days, but the Bible is too honest for that sort of Disney story telling. The boy was still young when Sarah's eye caught the flourishing laughter of Ishmael, the son of Hagar, her slave, and the woman that Sarah had used and abused as a sordid surrogate when she couldn't wait on the promises of the Lord. Her contentment was lost in the gaze of comparison. This is such a typical human response, finding ourselves unable to be satisfied with the blessings that God has given us, because our eyes are fixed on the blessings that He has given to another.
My relatively short experience of walking with God has shown me clearly that I learn most about God, myself, and how to walk in His love, in seasons of difficulty and distress. I like seasons of prosperity and enjoy them when they come, but prosperity can lead to a presumption of my own capability, while difficulty undeniably declares my dependence on something other than me to sustain me.
I have always wanted to live through a revival where the Holy Spirit is richly poured out amongst His people in tangible and powerful ways. I must confess, that I have become so indoctrinated by our chosen methodologies (many of which are good and right, but some of which we really need to re-evaluate) that I assumed that this revival of God's Spirit would happen in a large gathering, with all of our best Evangelical bells and whistles. But, what if God desires to pour His Spirit out into us in a powerful way while we cannot gather, and what if He needed to break down some of the ways that we think so that He could give us the mind of His Son to think and act in new ways?
How many of us are missing out on the incredible offer of the life of the Kingdom of God because we aren't paying attention or are distracted with our own interests? We are prepared to miss the invitation to the great celebratory life because, truth be told, we think that the one that we are creating is better than the one that is on offer.