February 6, 2012

God Enjoys Being Stalked


“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” ~ Luke 11:9-10


We are all familiar with this scripture.  It is the lure which whets our spiritual appetites. The Bible is a guaranteed source of food for the soul. However,
with every appetite comes the capacity for both
feast – and – famine.

The Luke passage is a promise we rightfully claim.  After all, each of us fits into the “everyone” category.  We all desire to walk away from God’s table of blessing with something in hand.  This scripture promise is our golden ticket.  It says, “Welcome to the banquet. There is a place card with your name on it. Come and be filled.”
So you gleefully arrive at the banquet with your Luke 11 invitation in hand and pull your chair up to the table.  You settle in, make yourself comfortable alongside your cronies, and watch for the double kitchen doors to open any minute. 
Would it surprise you if the host kept you waiting?
Until the wait becomes uncomfortable, you weren’t aware that your appetite wasn’t the only thing you brought with you.  You also brought expectations and selfishness, among other things.  The wait will reveal many secrets.
And so you sit inactive.  Still seeking.  Still hungry.  Still clinging to your invitation and growing more uncomfortable with every passing minute. 
The longer you wait the hungrier you get.  You question, “Did I come to the wrong house at the wrong time or on the wrong day?  Has the patron run out of food?”  As your stomach growls you think, “My appetite has now evolved into a genuine physical need.  I no longer sit here waiting to be indulged; I can be satisfied with the bare minimum.  Just give me enough to silence my aching stomach.  I must be fed.  I may faint on the spot.”
How do you react when waiting on God gets uncomfortable? 
Do you entertain doubts about the legitimacy of the invitation or the reliability of the patron? 
Do you justify your needs to the point that you consider other remedies?
Does the noise of other guests pulling away from the table sound appealing?
As their chairs empty, the loneliness makes the waiting worse.  If the growling stomach hasn’t gotten to you, will the loneliness provoke you to leave?  
What a tenuous circumstance it is to find yourself besieged with need at a time where God appears distant. You acknowledge that you too have the freedom to abandon ship.  
The patron, God, is the giver of all good things (James 1:17).   He will not let you starve to death, but He will permit your painful waiting.  How much is He worth to you?  How bad do you want what He has to offer?  The wait will reveal it.  His promise stands and will be granted to those remaining at the table when the appointed time comes. 

God first pursued you.  How else can you explain the invitation in your hand?  He never withdraws His love, but will for a season withdraw evidence of Himself to see how you respond.  


Will it be, "Out of sight, out of mind" or,

 "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" ?


God led the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt with a pillar of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21).  When the intangible God removed His tangible signature, the people reacted in rebellion, refusing to uphold faith once God made Himself invisible.  There would be no seeking after the One who had sought them, so they resorted to manufacturing idols which could be seen and held in hand.  Do you turn to this solution; seeking the tangible over the intangible in seasons of discomfort?

Jeremiah chapter 2 reads, “This is what the Lord says:  “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me?  They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves. They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord, who brought us up out of Egypt . . .” verses 5&6 (partial) 

The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?  Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.” verse 8

The Israelites had no need to ask ‘Where is the Lord’ while He was still visible.  Likewise, we have no need to seek Him while we are feasting.  The purpose of famine, waiting, silence, and invisibility, is that man should SEEK AFTER GOD. 

When God hides Himself, He listens for the faithful to cry,


“WHERE IS THE LORD?”


This cry does not displease God.  It does not declare that we have no belief.  On the contrary!  It testifies that we indeed believe and have expectation in His existence, in His goodness, in His blessing and His companionship.  The question reveals that His absence is felt and His presence is missed.

Look at the title He is called.  We call him “LORD”.

Look at the question.  We do not state that He is nowhere to be found, but somewhere we want to be, somewhere that we may follow. 

When we lose sight of something valuable, we look hard to find it, to the point that we even ask directions.  “Where is the Lord?” is a plea for directions.  All of these aspects honor God.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” ~ Hebrews 11:6

It is not God’s aim to go unfound, but found.  It is not His goal for you to go unrewarded, but rewarded.  The cycle is not complete and the reward is not rich without hot pursuit.  From the heights of Heaven to the depths of hell He pursued us.  If this means anything to us, then we will reciprocate with relentless love and faith.     

So stay in your seat at the banquet table.  Let your stomach growl.  God permitted Job and his friends 35 chapters of the Bible to yap and moan as they waited on Him.  Job did not fail to cry out ‘Where is the Lord?’ (Job 23:3), nor did he depart from God’s table (Job 14:14).  Thirty-five chapters later, deep in the misery of Job’s condition, God answered Job with grand authority . . . followed by grand reward.   Silence is not golden, it is temporary.

God IS.  And He is a REWARDER.  When in doubt, need and discomfort, take to stalking God.  God appreciates being stalked and anything less saddens Him.


(Thank you to Joy Allmond for her contribution to this message and Aaron Shust for this song.)

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