I know so very little. Before men I do not really know how to make a humble admission, for to speak anything seems to carry implications I cannot escape; that I therefore must have something to say. And within this implication I also find another, that it must therefore be something someone else needs to hear. But before God I know only this thing to be true “I know so very little”.
How to speak before men, while maintaining the very conviction that I never speak outside the presence of God, is something I am only beginning to learn. But I believe I have, as do you, and no less than you, an excellent teacher. A Helper. A re-minder. Another thing I believe I see is that I am always being encouraged toward the love of Him, and that love must exceed my disdain of correction. Perhaps few of us want to appear wrong, but none of us desires to be shown, and subsequently displayed as being irrefutably and quite irrevocably…wrong. I don’t believe any have an affection for shame.
There is much appeal to merely appearing right among ourselves, even if we do not yet recognize this in its depths. And that motive is known so plainly in the sight of Another. Men love to look right. We, quite naturally…adore it. Yet we may learn as we follow, the appearance of being right, and righteousness, are most often at odds. And should we assume in this discovery, like men whose prow has at last hit “new land” that we have attained to something hitherto totally unknown; we may be shocked to find how many previous inhabitants are there. But as God would not rob us of this joy in discovery, (truth is always exciting to see, after all, He is our dearest friend) neither would he have us puffed up in our thinking, “I now stand where none other ever has”. Yet…He may even, for His purposes, allow this for a time. Until that vanity may be thoroughly shown for what it is. Thoroughly. It is far more than enough that we stand in a place we have not known. This new place for us is ordained…to us. And newness is our portion.
Yes, we are explorers. But beyond this must come the sure knowledge as those being led. As Jesus is not ever haphazard, neither is His leading of us. And being led into what is for us the unknown must also come the knowledge that we are being led into the known. Jesus, we must be convinced (though it seems almost ridiculous to be said) did not “make stuff up” as He went along. There is no footfall for us that is without purpose. We, of all, must be persuaded that Jesus always knows that of which He speaks. The singularity of significance found in the resurrection, that cornerstone, flows out, as it must, to touch everything with which we have to do. That testimony of God, given to us as seal to all of Jesus’ work and words, must never be consigned in mind or heart, to something that becomes dusty or rote.
We live (if we do indeed live) in that resurrection, by that resurrection, and through that resurrection. And therefore our footfalls (and even the minutia we may have once attributed to accident, as inconsequential, as even mere happenstance) are never without a significance.
This seems at first a strict and harsh discipline, this call to be ever alert, ever vigilant in that knowing…all is significant. In every moment there is something to be seen, and learned; thoughts to be pursued, deeds to be done, while likewise thoughts to be taken captive, and very certain deeds to be left alone and abandoned. And, when failing through lack of proper attention…frequent exercise of repentance.
Who is equal to this? Who can endure being so very present…in every moment? And yet, it is these very exercises that begin to show us, indeed, the very present One. As we grow to live in the only place we are created for, and that is the now, His presence is manifest just where we has told us we would see Him. And He is present because He lives, and He lives in the resurrection, and…because He lives, we live also.
We must learn to trust that, just as all is in His presence He remains to us, and for us, continually present. He is always closer than we may think at any particular time. And this is where relief from what appears strict and harsh can only be found. In the knowing of the Lord’s presence with us, never to abandon. Sticking indeed as one closer than a brother.
The natural man, (and likewise natural thinking that may remain with us) is excluded here quite summarily. His willing assignation to, and complicity in that assignation to a fear always resulting in this: “but what if I do not choose rightly?” (for he has already accomplished bad choice that informs all others completely, and inexorably) can only be to a further hobbling.
Yes, the natural man (and thinking) is all “locked up” in trying to do the right thing according to his own measure, calculating risks and benefits, never able to apprehend the greatest of all benefits in Christ, that “I am with you always”. Being persuaded against “but what shall I do?” is by its consuming; learned in seeking the Lord for what He is doing…and doing likewise.
Mary is said to have chosen that better part, sitting and listening to Jesus speak…even as He sat, listening to, and for, His Father as He spoke. Mary was doing with Jesus (as she listened to Jesus) precisely what Jesus was doing…listening to the words of God, our Father.
For we discover Jesus never speaks of things, nor instructs us in them, apart from His doing, or already having…done them. Faith does not say “what would Jesus do?”, but seeks out what He is doing. Faith must show us the Lord, and does, and will. We get hobbled trying to “figure out” what Jesus might do in any circumstance…but He never despises our learning to walk. He above all, knows this is all new to us, as it must remain. New life…is new.
But, here’s a thing. We need as much to be hobbled, when we need it, just as much as anything we need in the Lord. Lest we be found, and shown, as those willing to cast off rebuke and chastening. The scripture is quite plain of such. Lessons, even when painfully received, may even be more painful in that admission. We need rebuke, and chastening. (But to keep it right in all honesty, I must say I do.)
When we are wrong in spirit, there is nothing more vital nor of greater necessity than to be shown so. Are we not yet able to admit that? We need tending. Pride and presumption, those two most evil twins, are ever ready, and eager, to make their voice known. And though God takes no pleasure in our pain (and the matter of a sadism must be addressed) there is a suffering that is of necessity, that leads to life. If this be not so, then perhaps we do not see and apprehend Jesus Christ yet, as we may say, and may want to appear to. And God surely knows at this very moment, if that is all I am doing. Even in writing. As just a man seeming to present what he thinks he knows…out of pride.
Now, it is easily said, and rightly so, that if we suffer, let it not be as wrongdoers. So, we are presented with the sufferings of Christ for all acceptance and participation (particularly in our experience) that leads to life or we must find those sufferings that lead to shame and exclusion from it (life). But as we may see, suffering itself, remains on the table (so to speak) in both. It is therefore, inescapable. We do not get to “opt out”. One either accepts the sufferings in Christ, or is plainly “asking” (though unbeknownst) for the sufferings that accrue to the disobedience of unbelief.
The resurrection is surely preceded by certain things of which our Lord has not left us ignorant. Things accomplished in Him by opposition and infliction upon Him (yes, in His very own body) should not be foreign to our knowing. And we are plainly not spared, nor possibly could be if we are indeed bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh (bride) and in His now present body. Indeed, He tells us quite plainly. Again, the resurrection must always remain most proximal touchstone in this, never forgetting this is more than mere dusty doctrinal confession (for He speaks “I am the resurrection and the life”) so that our hope which is in Christ, and our hope in the resurrection can never be separated. He is not divisible. Our God, is indeed, One. Always. Both in the saying of who He is, nor of ever denying that He is what, and who, He is.
And this then, has everything to do with a “foreword”. I am man. I am a man. Knowing little, if anything at all. Those implications first spoken of, that if I speak it must mean I have something to say, if I speak, it must mean I assume someone else must need the hearing of it. No, not at all. Not at all. All my meaning, all my assumption is just that…as man…nothing. God alone means all that He says, and God alone knows all the need of hearing it. Even, and especially, presumption in any speaking (and writing)…must yield to this knowledge. We may learn “I have spoken when I ought to have been silent, I have been silent…when I ought to have spoken.”
But, as God is truth, indeed the very truth of all Himself, a very small (but now primary) thing I may just be learning is that lies do not serve well, neither by commission nor omission. Therefore it must be clear I am only a man. (How clear this yet remains to be made to me, God knows) A man on this journey in Christ with you, as fellow traveler and seeker. And, I am a man that has used his vessel in the pursuit of pleasure to almost every debauchery found proscribed by scripture, the Spirit, and Heaven itself. Naming them is moot, for they are so very clearly known to the One who knows. Nevertheless there is promise of the God who can never be accused of forgetting, that He wills to remember them, no more. Yet, if by necessity they need be known to you for your benefit, I am persuaded the God who cares all to your benefit, will not hide them from you. There is no need to a re-shaming of myself, unless it be a help to you. And also unless by artifice I have lied to myself as to a repentance.
You see, I never truly know of my own position in anything, I must be shown, I must be told. As I cannot not “fix myself” in common usage of repair, neither can I fix myself as to a precise position of myself, to myself. Just knowing that the natural man, quite naturally will always think better of himself than he ought, does not secure me (nor anyone) from that pitfall. Indeed…nothing I know, ever can, or does. Left to myself and my knowing, I am surely of all men, most lost.
I am only one of the multitude that have pinned their hopes to Jesus’ knowing, and speaking, only from what He knows. And when He speaks of mercy to the sinner; when he speaks of, and pleads for, a forgiveness of His Father toward those who “do not know what they do”, I find a qualification I surely meet.
It seems a paradox, no? How can one know…he is the one who doesn’t know? But we do not live in the seems…if we live in Christ. That is all, if anything, I know. Having been a man navigating in what seems life, I crashed into the One who is life, itself. (And I must admit, that intent was never my own, salvation was never “my” (or any man’s idea…at all. Thanks be to God!) And am pressed to admit this new life is all of which I do not know…have never known, but is surely open now, to discovery.
The few things I may be learning along this discovery of meeting myself for the very first time, I share. For I do believe, in that I am meeting Him. The sinner, (the one who merely thinks he knows what he is doing, yet could never know that) meeting the One who indeed knows the all of man, yet full of mercy toward him. A pity that does not impart shame, but only hope.
So, this hope that makes me not ashamed even when seeing who, and what I may perceive of what I am, and have been, so far eclipses that as to promote continued occupation. Its mainspring has so far proved itself stronger than all (of even believing I know, and what I know of myself) that might stand opposed.
This thing that God has done in Jesus Christ and through Jesus Christ has so far exceeded any of the soil I may have heaped to His grave (even in my earthen vessel) to keep Him…down. He sprung forth…unbidden by me…but for me, through the workings of Another. This plan of life from death…was, and is, God’s alone. Yet, this resurrection is made true…even in the sight of one least worthy. And, like one who would in ignorance seek to hold Him, even hold Him down by grasping and seeking to keep Him (rather than the other way round) there would be the refusal of occasion to hear Him say,
“I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”
The thrill of those words…heard…really heard, is so far beyond any utterance I could make as to their magnitude to my soul. My inclination to always (as it seems) do the less better thing, is always out-shined, and corrected without shame, by His better-ness. It remains all, and always to His glory, and a benefit to me I cannot begin to fathom. Yes, Jesus knows better…and the better. And so, it is always far better to concede to His leading and knowing into (what for me) is the unknown, than seek to keep Him to what I know. (And most truthfully is only what I presume…to know…and that, so very often, wrongly)
So, why words from one conceding his own wrongness about most everything? And, to whom might such words be of benefit? I have concluded that at best I write for myself…and (in one real sense) to myself, my younger self, that one who is “quite sure he knows”. He must be disabused of this, for he is always with me to argue, that one seeing in part so ready to convince himself he stands where none other ever has. He is like a young pup tasting love for the first time, not only ignorant of Romeo and Juliet, but confidently convinced he knows what none else could ever begin to know. Or has known.
Yes, we need to hear…precisely…what we say we believe. And hear it well. And speak so. And be glad that rebuke and rebuff, correction and (as needed) even demolition are outside our own biased hands. This is salvation. To fear being shown wrong must be overcome in desire for the One who always shows Himself, right. The Righteous One.
For to deny this, is to deny this:
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
Love and rebuke, zeal and repentance. They are irreversibly linked in His word. To see His love is worth the enduring of all rebuke. To confront His zeal, His fiery (and O! so jealous) love makes way for true repentance. Even to salvation.
And I, of all men, need that. Need…Him.
And so, I write. And speak. If it be to His pleasure to appear in rebuke, so be it. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.