The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
Jeremiah 18:4, 6
“But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands: so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. ... O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?’ Declares the Lord.”
The promises of God have always been very precious and now God was taking them away! I felt devastated. That would be bad enough in itself, but what was worse was that it came with a sense that I had in some way let God down and I was being demoted from the heights that he had set before me. Such verses as “I will make the nations your inheritance and the ends of the earth your possession” (Psalm 2:8 NIV) would no longer apply.
At that time I was really struck by Job, that God had given so much to him and then taken it. Job had let it go, he had said the Lord gives, the Lord takes away. So, to follow his example, I went through the promises that God had given, over the years and gave them all back to him. It was a painful time, but I felt that I needed to honour him in his decision and go with what he thought was best.
Over time, God’s promises have meant a considerable amount to me and he has given them in abundance. Now they were gone, it left a great vacuum. I began to realise that I had been putting my hope, not so much in Jesus as in the promises that he had set before me. When God had taken me through difficult times, my motivation had not been – I must go through it because he is purifying me for himself, but rather I must go through it in order that he can work out his promises more fully. Or that if I don’t go through with it, I might not attain to the promises that he had set before me. God had set before me great things and I wanted them to be fulfilled, and fulfilled to the maximum. For that, I was ready to endure any test. I was always rather haunted by a phrase in the Psalms – ‘The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle.” (Psalm 78:9 NIV) The origin of this is that Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim, was that they were to be the leaders over Israel – armed with their bows (Genesis 49:22, 26), but at some point they lost it, and fell back on the day of battle, and it seems as a result lost their position of leadership in Israel. I had always lived with this fear that when the day of battle came I too would fall back and lose it. In fact though, the loss had come not with the day of battle, but with the year without battles. The day to day living without any particular battle to fight had left me lax in zeal for God, and I had allowed my devotion to him to diminish. Such that now God was saying that he was, like the potter going to start again with the pot.
Having returned God’s promises, I began to realise that I had been putting the promises of Jesus in front of Jesus. A hope in the promises ahead of the one who gave the promises. It was in some ways difficult to tell the difference. From the outside this attitude produced a Godly life, and a zealously godly one at that. There was however a measure of fear in it, and where there is fear, love tends to be squeezed out. The mission became more important than the person. As my mother would say to me, it is like having a Hippo in the garden. Far better that the promises are left behind and I am left with the Jesus who loves me and to entrust my future to him. He will do with it as he chooses, and I can trust him that it is the best all round.