Just wrapping up a 48 hour retreat where I set out to posture myself before the Lord and seek His fullness in my own life. I clearly had plenty of sin to confess and could have made it a Martin Luther weekend and accomplished nothing else. However, I chose to be still, read the Word, and listen to what the Lord would say. I remember specifically praying at the outset that He would reveal the vast depravity of my heart…
Friday night: Spent most of the evening reading Acts. I was particularly struck by the childlike faith of the early churches. As Paul and his cohorts went out on their missionary journeys, they were sometimes in various cities for just a couple of weeks (ex: 13:13-52) they bid their followers to "continue in the grace of God", and then they were off. I was able to meditate on the lives of these early believers for a spell. Think of their plight: they barely knew the gospel, had no written NT if they had any of the scriptures at all, they had no commentaries, no systematic theology. How in the world did they live godly lives without so much help? They trusted in the promises of God and believed in the faithfulness of God's character as understood in the Gospel. By definition: childlike faith. They didn't rely on 100 different "interpretations" of a particular text, they didn't need a giant "Christian Living" section in their ancient bookstores. They relied on the Spirit of God to lead them as they trusted in God's sovereign purpose.
Saturday: Woke up early Saturday, took my Bible for a walk with the Psalms around the lake. Good morning. Within 2 hours of waking I began to develop a headache, which turned into a completely debilitating migraine. I thought maybe I should eat something, because this type of headache was certainly counter-productive to what I was trying to achieve. How could I seek God when I can't even move my eyes, much less my head. One afternoon trip to Taco Bell resulted in no relief. So I spent the rest of my Saturday on into Sunday morning laying in my cabin wrestling with God, sensing bitterness, expressing disappointment, crying out that my trip couldn't end up this way. Why was God so pronouncedly silent? This was something that had led me to such a retreat in the first place: maybe I just needed to get away from all the noise where I could really focus on the Lord. So here I was, completely disabled lying on my back while the rain pours down outside my cabin and within my heart. After failing to start a fire in the rain, I spent the next 16 ½ hours trying to sleep away my head pain. The sleep was wrenching and anxious, constantly waking to see if it was over, if God would be gracious and wake me with a vision of His grandeur. Instead I woke thinking "that was the single longest night of my life" and "I only have a few hours left here before my 'retreat' is over". I was depressed and disappointed. I remember thinking that my wife will simply be undone if I come home in the same sorry state that I left in. I love my wife more than anything on this earth. She is a precious gem to me. I will do anything for her, but I will not lie about where I am with the Lord, I will not give her false hope.
Today: Praise the Lord! As of 8:30 am I am able to stand upright without being led to tears! The rain has stopped and I was able to start a fire! Although I don't know what the purpose of last night was (and maybe I never will), I can say that today I am thinking a bit more clearly. I don't "feel" God's presence, however, I "know" His promises. It's as simple as "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" and "37
zAll that athe Father gives me will come to me, and bwhoever comes to me I will never cast out." and "6 And I am sure of this, that he who began ha good work in you iwill bring it to completion at jthe day of Jesus Christ" and "12 So then, brothers,4 we are debtors, cnot to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you dput to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are eled by the Spirit of God are fsons5 of God." and "16 You did not choose me, but zI chose you and appointed you that you should go and abear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that bwhatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you" or "13
zWhatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that athe Father may be glorified in the Son. 14
zIf you ask me5 anything in my name, I will do it."
A man driving down the interstate realizes that he is low on fuel. 5 miles ago he passed a sign that said "Gas Station 20 miles ahead!" As he drives, he begins to panic, thinking "what if they were lying, what if there is no gas station ahead? I will surely perish on this lonely stretch of desert highway!" Which is more foolish: to believe that the signs are false (although virtually every other road sign he can remember has always been accurate) and so, simply stop in the road and wait to die or try to find another road that will hopefully lead to somewhere of value, or to continue on this path, trusting that the gas station lies just ahead?
Resolution: I will live with the following as my banner: I know that my salvation is based upon the merits of Jesus Christ alone. I know that He will never cast me from His presence. I know that He will finish what He began in me, in His good time. I know that I must "fight the good fight" by putting to death the deeds of the body by the power of the Spirit. I know that prayer in accordance with His will will always be answered in the positive, not to believe so makes God out to be a liar and perjurer.
Therefore: I will not live doubting the promises of God because of what I see in my heart, but rather live with a patient trust of the Promiser. Thank God for George Mueller and the testimony of his life that proves "It is not vain to trust in God alone." May my life begin to reflect such a thought. All of my "waiting" up to this point has been a spiritually passive activity. Waiting on the Lord demands a posture of constant reassurance through His word, communion with His Spirit through prayer, and to "look not at the little in hand, but at the fullness of God". Trusting is not naive, but it is simple.
"To rest solely on the promise of a faithful God is the only way to know for one's self and prove to others, His faithfulness." We do not and cannot prove God's faithfulness through a weekend of flowery feelings no matter how many shooting stars we may see, we cannot prove His faithfulness through an experience of "enlightenment". We prove God's faithfulness through a lifetime of dependence solely upon Him through petition to Him alone, not seeking the aid of men along every step. We must allow God to be shown to be faithful. We must wait in hopeful, patient, resolved trust. He's either sovereign or He's not.