seeing as i am taking off of school for now (maybeforeveryippee!), i have some time on my hands. and, seeing as my previous posts have talked about "waiting" being an active pastime, i have decided to take it upon myself to put myself through a "class" of my own making, namely, reading the "institutes of the christian religion" by the beloved john calvin.
today was day one of an 80 day "class". (well. it might end up being longer than that...we'll see!)
chapter 1? "the knowledge of god and of ourselves mutually connected. nature of connection."
yes, i'm giddy about it too!
an excellent way to get started!
here's a couple delicious snipits from the chapter:
//our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.//
//we are accordingly urged by our own evil things to consider the good things of God; and, indeed, we cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves.//
but how, oh calvin, do we begin to be displeased with ourselves?
//so long as we do not look beyond the earth, we are quite pleased with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods. but should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of being He is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard, we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangely imposed upon us under the name of wisdom will disgust by its extreme folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy will be condemned as the most miserable impotence. so far are those qualities is us, which seem most perfect, from corresponding to the divine purity.//
we are to merely look to heaven, look to our God and Saviour, and there we will find OUR rightful place as sinners before a holy God.
//to this, undoubtedly, the prophet isaiah refers, when he says (isa. 24:23) "the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the lord of host shall reign," i.e. when he shall exhibit his refulgence, and give a nearer view of it, the brightest objects will, in comparison, be covered with darkness.//
"Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction." (prov.1:5-7)
the theme continues today! these have always been such encouraging scriptures. thankyouLord!
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
(James 5:7-11 ESV)
one of those faithful prophets....
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.
(Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV)
both scriptures refer to waiting for the "fruit of the earth". waiting for a harvest, especially when you're starving, is extremely difficult. food is a necessary commodity...it represents life or death for us. and yet we are encouraged, that even when we don't have what seems necessary to us, the Lord remains compassionate and merciful and even, "makes me tread on my high places". He never gives us more than we can bear. it is His very purpose to be merciful to us...even as displayed in salvation.
in His mercy, He has provided examples for us in scripture (none greater than His own Son of course) to show us His faithfulness. we may not be able to see "around the bend" in our own lives, but there are innumerable accounts of Christ's love for His people in the word. if our unchanging God was faithful then, then He is surely faithful now.
"yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation."
every once in a while, and normally when i'm going through a trial or difficulty, there are days, in God's overwhelming kindness, when i am more fully aware of Christ's relentless pursuit of me. for His constant drawing me to Himself. like a guardrail that is invisible but very tangible, keeping me on a specific course, in a specific direction. He is the hound and i am the fox.
today has been one of those days. and it's only 11 o'clock in the morning! i needed it after yesterday...a particularly foggy, confused, and hard day. (for unknown, inexplicable, and unjustifiable reasons, which in turn made me feel more foggy and confused.)
the reason i so keenly feel Him pursuing me today is, as i have been reading this morning, there is a constant and steady theme. a persistent theme that even stretches beyond today and through this past week...month...even the year. but today this guardrail has been made very nearly visible to me.
the theme i speak of is waiting. the "waiting upon the Lord" that we always hear of.
this theme is appropriate. as Christ's lessons ALWAYS are.
God has seen fit to bring me into a stage of waiting in my life. a season that calls for abundant patience for several different situations in my life. and through this season i have been striving to learn what on earth the word "waiting" even means.
psalm 46, which speaks of "being still" and "knowing He is God", has always been a favourite of mine. but lately i've come to the conclusion that maybe i'm not even fully aware of what that means! what exactly am i to do during the process or in the mean time...?
Christ is faithful to draw near to me when i cry out to Him, however. and today has been an excellent lesson in learning what on earth waiting, patience, and being still implies, and how to go about doing such things.
first. i learned that this season of waiting is constant. there is never a time in which we cease to wait upon the Lord. every. single. day. is a day in which we are called to wait upon Him. every day is a day in which we are called to be still in His presence.
but again....how do i do that? i'm not fully aware, but i'm learning. so that's progress!
my prayer for the last several weeks has been that of david's in psalm 27:4. (the psalm that i read, in God's providence, this morning!)
//One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.//
i say it has been my prayer meaning, i have been seeking the Lord and inquiring after Him. i long to draw near to Him and learn His character through scripture and the writings of people wiser than i. i do long to dwell in His house, being near to Him in everything i do. i want to set His beauty and wisdom before me everyday so that i will strive to look like Him! i want to be able to say that i have learned something new about Him every day.
this morning i have learned that this is part of waiting. i was reading on a friend's blog and discovered this quote from paul tripp. (sogood.)
"Waiting on God isn’t about the suspension of meaning and purpose. It’s part of the meaning and purpose that God has brought into my life. Waiting on God isn’t to be viewed as an obstruction in the way of the plan. Waiting is an essential part of the plan. For the child of God, waiting isn’t simply about what I’ll receive at the end of my wait. No, waiting is much more purposeful, efficient, and practical than that. Waiting is fundamentally about what I’ll become as I wait. God is using the wait to do in and through me exactly what He’s promised. Through the wait He’s changing me. By means of the wait He’s altering the fabric of my thoughts and desires. Through the wait He’s causing me to see and experience new things about Him and His kingdom. And all of this sharpens me, enabling me to be a more useful tool in His redemptive hands."
i am an impatient person. i want everything to be done in my timing...which is quickly, or even instantly. "i want the promise fulfilled now, Lord!" is often my cry. even on the basest level i'm impatient, "wow...i wish that food would hurry up, i'm starving." or "the internet is taking more than 2 seconds to load...forget it."
i also live in an impatient culture. my environment makes it acceptable to expect things to go my way RIGHT THIS SECOND. my way or the highway, right?
wrong. i so quickly lose sight of the process. why i'm even waiting in the first place. if i truly believe God is sovereign. if i truly believe He works everything according to HIS good and perfect will for His glory and my good, which i do.....then waiting is part of that good and perfect plan....AND it's for my good. which means, by God's grace, i can find joy even in waiting.
like tripp says, it's not about what i get at the end. it's about my heart in the process. what am i doing with myself during the wait? waiting is an activity, even though the very word "wait" feels like a passive word. patience is an action. and it takes work. work that requires the help of the Holy Spirit to accomplish, because Lord knows when we're waiting for something, how easy it is to just rush in...or quit, instead of actively resting in what God will do, and pursuing wisdom in the process.
i say "should be" because, in light of our sin, it's not, by any means, easy to wait for those things. it's not easy for me in any case, thus the foggy, confused, hard days that i experience. so, how do i, with the Holy Spirit and not in my own strength, go about overcoming my sin by waiting patiently and joyfully? it's an active stance, like i mentioned, so how do i do it?? HELP!
oh! thank you, charles spurgeon, you're always a great help! the Lord in His kindness has seen fit to continually display His love for me through mr. chawws (as i like to call him). and this morning was no exception. today is the 28th of august. i know that. but (again in God's providence and another reason i know He pursues me) i read the "morning" excerpt of august 30th in spurgeon's book "morning and evening".
the title? "wait for the lord" from psalm 27. (which got me reading it in the first place!)
in this excerpt from his sermon, spurgeon outlines particular ways in which we are to wait upon the Lord. his language is beautiful as always, and i found his words to be so helpful as i look to go about my waiting with a joyful heart. charles says this, "there are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desirous to serve the Lord, doesn't know what part to take. then what shall it do? vex itself by despair? fly back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption? no, but simply wait."
i'll summerize his points on HOW to wait below. (they aren't exhaustive, but so helpful.):
1) wait in prayer. "call upon God, and spread the situation before Him; tell Him your difficulty, and plead His promise of aid." we not are not promised the easy life when we become Christians. life is still extremely difficult at times. however, the Lord knows all our needs and desires before we even ask. we must ask though, we must cast our anxieties upon Him for He cares for us! it is a way in which we humble ourselves and express the fact that we are weak and HE is strong. in this way we give Him the glory. we admit that we are needy beings, and He has need of nothing. we must humble ourselves above all. prayer is also a way in which we can express our gratefulness to the Lord for all He has already given us, even amidst the pain. being aware of our need for salvation, and then thanking God for that undeserved and precious gift will make us more grateful for what we already have in life, and thus more willing to wait for other things, even in the midst of great difficulty.
2) wait with simplicity of soul. "it is sure to be well with us when we feel and know our own folly, and are heartily willing to be guided by the will of God." the cry "thy will be done, not mine, o Lord" is far easier to say, and comes from a far more genuine spirit when we have humbled ourselves before God, and acknowledge that we are but children in light of His all-knowing wisdom. demands become requests.
3) wait in faith. "express your unstaggering confidence in Him; for unfaithful, untrusting waiting, is but an insult to the Lord. believe that if He keeps you tarrying even until midnight, yet He will come at the right time..." we serve a God who is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. we all have experienced His goodness to us. if we have been saved, then we have experienced the greatest goodness of all. how then can we grumble behind His back, in a way, saying He's punishing us, or holding back for some reason? our prayer must ever be, "i believe that i shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!" (ps. 27 again!) our daily task is to believe. faith doesn't come to those who just sit. as humans, we take constant reminding of God's goodness in our lives, otherwise we take what is "rightfully ours" into our own hands, grumble and demand...which ultimately ends in our destruction, not our good, and never glorifies God!
4) wait in quiet patience. "...not rebelling because you are under affliction, but blessing your God for it. ...accept the situation as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any self-will, into the hand of your covenant God..." quiet is the key word here. it is an inward and outward quietness before the Lord. we are complaining to God, we aren't complaining to friends or family, we're "being still"! keeping our mouth shut and only opening it to praise God. God's timing is perfect. He invented time and not only that, He sent His son at the exact point in time that He needed to be sent to save us from His wrath. So He will be sure to bring His promises to pass. He will be sure to bring what we need to us at exactly the right point in time. and He will return to make all things new, to wipe away every tear, heal every hurt, and wipe out all sin forever at. just. the. right. time.
from the moment we are born, we are called to wait for things, to be patient. the Lord is helping me to see that the question we ask in waiting is not, "when will you do what i want, Lord?" or "when will i receive what i want/need?" but rather, "Lord, what would you have me do, what would you have me learn during this time of waiting, so that i might not sin against you, and that i would not become ungrateful for what you have already given me?" our goal is to glorify Him in the process.
Lord, let me busy myself while i wait. and let me wait patiently, humbly, quietly, joyfully so that you are glorified in the process, and that i would change to look more like the image of your Son, Jesus, in the process. "i will wait if You keep me many a day, for my heart is fixed upon You alone, O God, and my spirit waits for You in the full conviction that You will yet be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower." C.S.
"wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!"