Guest post by my dear friend, Jo Passmore.
When I was nine I became saved. The printed message that gripped me was one that spoke of Hell in no uncertain terms. That kind of message isn’t in vogue today and few people understand the impact a pamphlet like that can have, especially on a nine-year-old.
But the years that followed offered a different type of deep disturbance. From the pamphlet I understood my standing as a sinner; the need for repentance; and the command to obey God from that day forward. Clear. Concise. And by the work of the Holy Spirit…done.
When Other Christians Say You’re Wrong
While I was earnestly trying to find the narrow way Jesus always spoke of, I would have another Christian, or church, tell me that I was wrong. I can’t express how devastating this has been for most of my life. Has it been the same for you?
Do we ever get this right? Does, “You’re doing it wrong” ever include a “Here, let me help you”? Well, it should. It would have been a great help when I was a young and tender believer trying to figure out what exactly what I was supposed to be believing.
Sure, there were plenty of books, but they were like the science schizophrenia making statements like this: “Never drink coffee, it will kill you”; Drink coffee, it will help you not get cancer.” To drink, or not to drink; that is the question. Well, all of this almost drove me to drink…and not coffee.
How Do You Know You’re on the Right Narrow Path?
How does anyone who really wants to, know if they walk on the narrow road that leads to Heaven or a narrow road that leads to a cul-de-sac? Wide may be the way to destruction, but I have been in some pretty tight places that did that too.
I knowing I am posing the question. But I also know I have no answer someone won’t argue with after I give you mine. Yet, I am still going to share something about how I have managed through the years to better my chances of hearing the counsel of Scripture accurately.
I would get up early in the morning with God very much on my mind. Then I would ask Him to interpret the conversation I held in my hand…the Bible. If I found a verb, I often did it. It would look something like this: “Put Me in remembrance; let us contend together; state your case;…that you may be acquitted.”
Put God’s Verbs into Action
God had invited me to argue with Him. Wow. I was glad to do it, too. Then He acquitted. An even bigger, Wow. But, that didn’t happen all of the time. Remember what I said about ‘experimenting’?
“Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all of the day.”
I wanted to know His ways and He indicated I would have to look for them all of the day. I took this kind of verb thing seriously. “All of the day”? How does that look while I am minding the housework, the husband, the children and any neighbor that may walk across the street to drop in unexpectedly?
It was tough trying to figure out how to wait on God and on the rest of my world at the same time. Until the experimenting with trying to do just that started to lead me into some competence. I began to implement the Word spoken to me in the morning to the husband, children, and the unexpected neighbor.
Well, maybe competence is too strong of a word. But I started to see the practical advice I was getting in the morning and how it would play out in the day; and when I consciously applied it, I found I was beginning to wait on the Lord all of the day.
David mentioned in the Psalms that he prayed three times a day. I started to do it. He further mentioned when he was in some serious trouble that he would praise the Lord seven times a day. I set my timer.
Be a Doer, Not a Hearer Only
Do you get what I am saying? When there is a Scripture that catches your attention, do it. If the Holy Spirit is the Force behind your attentiveness you will know before the day is out. If you chose the Scripture for yourself, you will know that before the day is out too. The more we experiment, the more we begin to be discerning. Discernment comes with hard work and sometimes guesswork.
Why didn’t anyone tell me this?
David learned to kill coyotes; then bears; then Goliaths. Saul offered a battle gear that made David’s experimenting look wrong…to Saul, that is. But Saul found it hard to argue with the head of Goliath that was not a part of the rest of him anymore. And that is our dilemma.
Sometimes the way we follow the Lord’s instructions look funny to other people. The experimenting is public and sometimes we are wrong. Saul was. David killing a giant with a stone was the trick. The sword, which was the weapon of logical choice, was not.
When Contending with God becomes Agreement
Don’t you wish this could all be easier? But God insists that you contend with Him. Then, little by little, you start to stop contending and start agreeing with Him. This takes time; and it takes courage.
Our walk with God is an intimate one, but also a community endeavor. The husband, children and the unexpected neighbor are all part of the way God teaches us how to implement His Word all day long and, in time, with greater accuracy.
So whenever I read, hear, or am confronted with the message of “You’re doing it wrong.” I say in my heart; “Maybe.”
You can’t possibly know how freeing that is for me. I used to say, “My God, will You always hide from me? Will You always give me the wrong answers and give them the right ones?”
I am after this; “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. Then I said, “Behold, I come; in the scroll of the Book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.”
It got there one day at a time, one experiment at a time. And God noted it and then wrote it down in that wonderful Book of His.
That is worth all of the experimenting, sweating, crying, trying and following all of those wonderful verbs. So. Go. Do. Be.
Jo’s other post: