Tuesday, February 7, 2012

108. - The Two Great Shaping Forces

108.0 An Example: In the Old Testament, we are given an historical picture of the Hebrews in the wilderness after they departed from Egypt. Here is how Moses, himself, assessed that wilderness journey in Dueteronomy, chapter 8. He says, "And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

"So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord."

108.1 The Forces: In this description, two characteristics of that historic journey stand out above all else. It was a journey of separation. And, it was a journey of humiliation.

We also notice these two great shaping forces operating in the redemptive journey of the New Testament. Usually, we find them, as in the Exodus, operating together as a part of the same process to empower a new perspective.

108.2 Two Aspects: Also, notice that Israel's separation in the wilderness had both a "from" and "to" aspect. It was a withdrawal from the Egyptian world with which they were familiar. And, it was a withdrawal to God and His purpose.

That is also exactly how godly separation works in these New Testament times. We, as the Church of Jesus Christ, are called to, as Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians, chapter 6, " 'Come out from among them and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty."

So, we are called upon to separate ourselves - in heart - from the "worldly" economy. The "world" or the "worldly" are simply terms that denote anything in the physical economy that refuses to recognize and/or respond to the authority of God. But notice, while we are called upon to be separated from the world; at the same time, we are also called upon to move toward God. The idea is to embrace Him at a higher personal level. So, there is this to / from, this positive / negative aspect to separation.

108.3 Among The Patriarchs: This wilderness time is easily identified in the lives of major biblical characters. Beginning at Abraham and moving through the life of Paul, the Apostle, we can often notice this prominent period in the life of godly biblical players.

It was a time when they withdrew from the normal fragmentation of life and gave themselves to God in a focused and deeply personal way. And, this period of personal focus became a defining time for them.

108.4 The General Idea: The path to intimacy with God always goes right through the "Wilderness Of Separation." Jesus, Himself, was called the Nazarene, "the separated one or the branch." And, the Spirit of Christ, operating upon the believer will certainly draw each of us to his or her own personal wilderness experience. Then, in that place of personal seclusion, will occur the mother of all reality checks.

108.5 Sister # Two: Now, we come to the means by which we discover both God and ourselves at a much higher level. The primary means of these discoveries is the second of the Sister Winds. It is what might be called the "humbling process."

Humiliation is the second major shaping force in the life of the believer. It is what Moses describes above when, again, he said about the Exodus journey, "So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know..."

108.6 The Driving Motive: And, the motive for it all is revealed here also. He continues, "that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord."

The simple truth is that humanity is notorious for having a small reality awareness. Very often, we assume that we have a complete picture, when, in fact, we don't. So, for example, we go to a new job expecting to "make our mark" quickly. And, because we think we know "exactly what needs to be done," we plunge right in to "work our magic." And, when the situation "goes South," we are forced to analyze what went wrong.

All too often, we come to the very problem that we are discussing as the cause. We discover that we simply did not have a good grasp of reality, we did not see the whole picture. We thought we knew - but we didn't. So, the office politics or the quirkiness of the boss or the unwritten rules of the business "ate our lunch." They were the part of the picture of which we were ignorant; even though, we thought we saw it all.

That same short coming also exists for humanity on the spiritual plane. In fact, it is probably safe to say that it is at its worst there. When it comes to our relationship with God, especially in the beginning, we always think we "get it," but we never really do.

So, it is this very flawed awareness level, especially regarding who we are in relationship to God, that is Humanity's chronic and universal illness. Thus, the humbling process must come into play.

The purpose of this time of humiliation is still what it always was. And, the personal process is for us, exactly what the national process was for Israel. It is, as Moses indicated, to make us "know," to help us see the larger picture. So, the humbling process, even today, remains a painful reality check that introduces us to the true picture of our existence.

This humiliation is not pleasant. It is not easy. And, it is not negotiable.

But, this humbling is, at its conclusion, beneficial in the extreme. This scary, troublesome, hang-on-for-dear-life experience not only enlightens us, but it brings us in close, it facilitates a deep and intimate knowing of our God. It ultimately forges the strongest kind of bond.

108.7 How The Humbling Works: It works like this. As we are forced to see our own frailty, our arrogance begins to melt away. We start to see the part of reality that we were unaware of before - our own "smallness," as compared to the "bigness" of God. Thus, our awareness becomes enlarged and more accurate, albeit with some pain.

In simple terms, the humbling process just makes us "little in our own sight." We were always small, but the problem was we simply couldn't see it. Through the divine humbling, we not only discover this reality, but we actualize it within ourselves.

108.8 The Power To Transform: And, this true humility has the power to transform the human existence. As we experience it, we are positioned to become people of real gravity, import, and character. And, it is only here, on the back side of the wilderness of our separation, having endured the humbling process, that we can experience the high plane of life and a renewing personal intimacy with our Creator.

So, there it is, the two great shaping forces. Separation and Humiliation, these are The Sister Winds, working in concert to position the believer to discover the larger truth and real intimacy with God.