Christianity 201

December 1, 2015

If You Feel You Missed the Spirit’s Moving

Prolific Christian author Max Lucado recently wrote a book titled Glory Days which he feels describes the particular time in Israel’s history described in the first 14 chapters of Joshua and centered on the time leading up to entering the promised land. (I covered that book very briefly in this review.)  He begins the book:

For seven years they were virtually untouchable.  Seven nations conquered.  At least 31 kings defeated.  Approximately 10,000 square miles of choice property claimed.

Seven years of unbridled success.

They were outnumbered but not out powered.   Under equipped but not overwhelmed.  They were the unlikely but unquestionable conquerors of some of the most barbaric armies in history.  Had the campaign been a prize fight, the referee would have called it in the first round.

The Hebrew people were unstoppable…

On the timeline of your Bible, the era glistens between the difficult days of Exodus and the dark ages of the Judges.  Moses had just died and the Hebrews were beginning their fifth decade as Bedouin in the badlands and sometime around 1400 BC, God spoke, Joshua listened, and the glory days began.  The Jordan river opened up. The Jericho walls fell down.  The sun stood still, and the kings of Canaan were forced into early retirement.  Evil was booted and hope rebooted.  By the end of the campaign, the homeless wanderers became hope filled homesteaders.  A nation of shepherds began to quarry a future out of the Canaanite hills.  They built farms, villages and vineyards.  The accomplishments were so complete, that the historian wrote,

NLT Johsua 21:43 So the Lord gave to Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 And the Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could stand against them, for the Lord helped them conquer all their enemies. 45 Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true.

But what do you do if the Passover has already passed over, the Red Sea has already parted, and the son has already stood still?

Years later, Habakkuk no doubt felt like he’d missed Israel’s “glory days.”

Habakkuk 3:2(NIV) LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.

We do the same thing. It’s easy to wish that we could see the miracles. Maybe you missed the “third wave” of the charismatic movement in the 1970s; or missed the ocean baptisms of the Jesus movement, also in the ’70s. Maybe you missed the moment at a Creation Festival; or couldn’t attend a particular year of Promise Keepers. Perhaps you weren’t there when that church doubled its attendance in six months; or when that individual was dramatically healed, or another delivered from a particular addiction.

Or maybe you didn’t miss a thing, but feel like nothing compares to Old Testament signs and wonders or first century miracles. Like Habakkuk you say:

Habakkuk 3:2(NIV) LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.

But always remember how he ends this particular chapter. Even if life appears to be the opposite of all that you’d like to see, even if, as the Brits say, it’s all gone pear shaped; our faith is not shaken. It doesn’t negate the prayer of verse 2, but in 17-19 the prophet puts things in a larger perspective:

Habakkuk 3:17-19a (NLT) Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!

…By all means, keep praying “Lord, repeat them in our day;” but as Eugene Peterson renders this, he reminds us that we may not plant olives, but…

Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
    and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
    and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
    and the cattle barns empty,

… at those times keep rejoicing in the Lord. Remember,

NIV 2 Cor. 4:8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

If you decide to reblog this, you’re welcome to the title “Sheepless in Seattle.”

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