Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hard Knocks? (Revisit)

We're continuing from our repost of "A Far Off Goal".  Our illustration for both reshares is a picture of the Queen Mary, now permanently docked in California, taken from across the harbor by Neil Kremer.  Thanks again to him for allowing us to use it.  Even the gray coloring fits the thought of the two posts.

We talked about Saul in our last post and we’re not quite done with him.  One of the pastors I work with told me that there have been times when he’s gone to God and gotten no answer.  He took that as his answer.  Compare that to Saul’s reaction that drove him to the spiritualist. 

When she (the spiritualist) conjures the spirit of Samuel,  Saul tells the spirit that, “God is departed from me, and answereth me no more,…” (1Samuel 28:15).  There’s no Tom Sliva recognition that not getting an answer from God is, in itself an answer.  There’s no Hebrews 13:5 recognition that God doesn’t leave us.  A popular slogan says that when we feel like the presence of God has left us, it’s not God who’s departed.  That was Saul’s problem.  He had left the will of God in so many ways that he never would have recognized an answer from God if it slapped him in the face.  We’ll get back to that.

The example of Saul in “A Far Off Goal”  actually came out of another thought and is, in a way, a long introduction to this post.  I started thinking about my senior pastor, Tom Schaller.  When I first wrote this, he had recently had a heart attack, followed by surgery.  And another pastor friend was dealing with prostate cancer.  A third pastor had his own health issues, plus having a son die in his twenties from cancer.  At various times in my life, I’ve had some interesting things go on, too.  And I think of Jacob wrestling with God and ending up with a limp, Moses leading Israel despite being a murderer and having a speech impediment, Paul was temporarily blinded as part of the conversion process, later jailed.  Here’s the principle.

We look at things in the bright spiritual sunlight that lights up everything.  Or the broad light of our spiritual headlights.  And, sometimes, God has something as special and precise as a laser beam that He wants us to focus on.  Dealing with diabetes as another pastor friend of mine does daily or a physical handicap and COPD like mine can become something we just get used to without thinking of our dependency on God – it’s just there.  That isn’t saying that any of the men I’ve mentioned have ever taken their minds off God.  He can create these situations to prevent that, before it’s an issue, as much as He can use them to heal problems.  And, as spiritual leaders who guide others, the focus and lesson could be as much for those being led as for the leaders.

That brings us back to Saul.  He had gotten his focus so far off God that he missed the fact that God was trying to get his attention by the silence and the seeming absence.  Instead, Saul sought a spiritualist instead of one of God’s priests.  And Saul missed the fact that God was there right to the end, if only Saul sought Him.  We don’t want to miss that.  We need to pray for our leaders, pastors and counselors that each hears from God and seeks God.  Whether it’s a president, a pastor, a senator, a boss or whomever, the devil is always attacking to get the most people possible going in the wrong direction.  And, as believers, we need to pray for and edify each other.  Because the devil works on individuals, too. 

If Saul had counselors who truly understood the heart of God, I suspect his end could have been very different.  In my own case, I thank God for a young man named Chad.  I once had a long bout with an intestinal bug and wasn’t going much of anywhere.  Chad regularly called to build me up, pray together for each other and others.  Chad knows this thought from God in his heart.  The rest of us need to catch up to Chad.

What’s your spiritual laser beam focussed on, today?

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