Sunday, May 31, 2009

equally skilled.

He had just heard the voice of the Lord utter curses.  Curses against His covenant-breaking, justice-hating, evil-loving people.  A sort of divine lawsuit followed by a sentence of judgment. The people of God did not delight in the law of their Lord, the only true Counselor, but gave themselves over to hear the counsel of wicked earthly kings.  As the psalmist declared, their end would be certain downfall.

The prophet Micah knows this. And he mourns in misery. He felt as though he had just arrived at the fields after a harvest, and there were not even any leftovers.  Nothing to satisfy his craving for godliness. Where were the godly people? Gone.  Vanished from the earth.  The only people remaining walk only in wickedness.  Their hands continually set on doing what is evil. And to do it well.  "They all lie in wait for blood." Those in high places seek bribes. There is no concern for what is just and good.

Both of our hands are equally skilled at doing evil... at bribing the judges... at perverting justice... Both of our hands.

Micah warns that the judgment day is close at hand.  Where to put his trust?  Not his neighbor. Not his closest friend. Not even his precious wife. Trust no one.  The son hates his father. The daughter hates her mother.  Enemies dwelling with enemies in the very same household.  But Micah's mourning turns to quiet confidence. He waits in expectation for the Lord to act.

Both of their hands are equally skilled at doing evil... at bribing the judges... at perverting justice... Both of their hands.

"Aha! There he goes! He will never stand, the fool!" is what the enemy cries.  If only they knew.  They will soon.  Yes, I fall. But I will rise again.  Yes, I sit in darkness. But the LORD alone will be a light to me.  I am to patiently bear His indignation towards me for the wrongs I have done to His name.  Then He will plead my case.  He will bring me to light and just vindication.  Now the enemy sees.  The one who mocked "Where is the Lord your God?" will be covered in shame and trampled in the streets.

And our remnant will be preserved... our walls will be built... our kingdom established... many nations will flock to our City, while all else will surely become desolate.  Were we so strong and wise that we turned ourselves around to become a faithful and holy people, who now love justice and right?  No.  Our hands were equally skilled at doing evil.  
We needed a different pair of hands.

Both of HIS hands are equally skilled at outrooting evil... at judging the judges... administering justice... Both of His hands.

His hands are like none other.  For He is like none other. Micah's lament ends in exuberant joy...
             "Who is a God like you? Pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of His inheritance?  He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love.
                He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot.  You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
                  You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as You have sworn to our fathers from the days of old."    --Micah 7:18-20

Both of His hands are equally skilled at showing me mercy... at loving the loveless... administering justice... Both of His hands.
Both of HIS hands.

Italicized lines taken from Jon Foreman's excellent song "Equally Skilled".  Listen to it here... 

Monday, May 18, 2009

seek first.

"But seek first the kingdom of God."  Matthew 6:33

A verse I have known since childhood.  But something that only challenges me more at time goes on.  No, it is much more than a challenge. It is extremely hard. A battlefield.  My every waking moment seems to be spent on relentless pursuit of my kingdom.  My  "righteousness". 

I am not mine.  I have no claim on anything good that I possess.  Every fiber of my being belongs to the King of a better kingdom.  My only righteousness is that of Christ.  He has covered my filthy rags with his spotless, seamless garment of radiant purity.  The King cannot turn me away, for "my life is hid with Christ on high".

Why then does this earthly life only seem to get harder?  Why am I so unable to further the Kingdom I love, the Kingdom where my heart rests?  The more He grows me, the more I see how much farther I have to go.  How frequently I fail. How much sin still must be wrestled with and defeated.  How much I still cling to my kingdom and the fleeting pleasures of this world.  This grip must be broken.

This world is not my home. I am a stranger and a pilgrim in this barren land.  "I am weak, but Thou art mighty. Hold me with Thy powerful hand."  This must be the cry of my heart.  I know I have nothing to offer the kingdom but feeble hands.  Can he use the weak and wounded?  The frailty of being in the flesh weighs me down, calls me to take the easy road again.  I must say no to its pleas. I must "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 3:14).  

Yes.  He is able.  

For His kingdom to be established in me, mine must be destroyed.  And this battle will not end or become easier while I yet live on this earth.  The more ground I gain, the more opposition I will face.  This is why it is so hard.  But also why it is so good.

By grace alone, the King of Glory who rescued me will indeed make me into His likeness and bring my salvation to completion. He will not break this bruised reed but will bring glory to His name through me!

Until that day...
His Kingdom must be the cause my heart beats for.
Let it come in my heart and in this world.
And may He use me as He sees fit.

"For here we have no lasting city.  But we seek the city that is to come."  Hebrews 13:14