Friday, August 5, 2011

God Does Not Share His Glory With Another

Have you heard Natalie Grant's new song? "Who is that", you say? Only one of the most prolific Christian song artists and activists of our time! Anyway, her new song "The Greatness of Our God" has a prophetic message for God's church in our day. Here are the Lyrics:

Give me eyes to see the more of who you are.
May what I behold
still my anxious heart.
Take what I have known and break it all apart.
For you my God... are greater still.

And no sky contains no doubt restrains all you are the greatness of our God!
I'll spend my life to know
and I'm far from close to all
you are the greatness of our God.

Give me grace to see beyond this moment here.
To believe that there is nothing left to fear.
That you alone are high above it all.
And you my God are greater still...

And no sky contains no doubt restrains all you are the greatness of our God!
I'll spend my life to know
and I'm far from close to all
you are the greatness of our God.

And there is nothing that could ever separate us,
no there is nothing that could ever separate us from your love.
No life, no death,
of this I am convinced,
you my God are greater still..

And no words could say,
or song convey all you are the greatness of our God I'll spend my life to know
and I'm far from close to all you are the greatness of our God

And no sky contains no doubt restrains all you are the greatness of our God!
I'll spend my life to know
and I'm far from close to all
you are the greatness of our God

Nice, right? I had heard this song many times and never really heard it until the other day. I had bought a new compilation CD with this song on it and I was excited to hear Natalie's new song. I've been such a big fan since I saw her in person at a Women of Faith Conference in Minnesota quite a few years ago. She has such a heart for women and for bringing God's message to His people. But I listened the first time and kind of shrugged it off. I thought, "That wasn't all that great." My next thought was, "Why don't I hear the message in this? The words are there but the message is hidden from me." I shrugged it off and let it go and went on with my life, my rat race. But that's just it! It's my life! Mine! And no one I know has fought harder than I have to have a life.

This story began back in 2000. "My" life was a train wreck. I was facing an unwanted divorce. I was losing my house. I had a career that was not going anywhere. My family and I had no kind of relationship. I had no friends. I was alone and miserable. I was suffering so severly because I knew I had chosen this path and here I was. At some point I had forgotten that truth I realized as a small girl that I wanted to live FOR Jesus. Meaning it was no longer "my" life but "His" life to work through to accomplish "His" goals. This life I had was all I could do in my strength. Destruction. I had given my life to Jesus as a little girl and He had taken that seriously and I had not. I was 25 now. I looked backwards in my mind and all I saw were skeletons and empty spaces. All I heard were the voices of condemnation from all my mistakes. I looked forward in my mind and I could see nothing. My sight was blocked. It all ended if I stayed on this track. I was broken. There was nowhere else to go. I turned back to God and said, "OK! I've tried it all. I've done it all and none of it works! You are the only thing I have not tried." At the time I believed that was true. I had walked the low road of life. I had seen every wretched thing one could see there and done every wretched thing one could do there. Atleast I thought. But God knew I had never walked the clean life, the "normal" life path yet. There would be many more areas of pride to uncover. Many more temptations to be offered to my heart throught this other world. First, "She learns". God chose to reveal His grace to me and I was changed, sold out to Him. I told Him that my life was His for the using. I would go where He wanted me to go and say what He wanted me to say. I told Him I would no longer speak apart from His will. I wanted Him to be woven into the very fabric of who I was becoming so that I could begin to see life again. The next five years of my life were an amazing time with the Holy Spirit teaching and leading. Near the end of that time I met my current husband. We decided to get married and a new life sprang up in my prepared garden soil. I thought we would go on happily, hands swinging singing worship songs togethor and then go into ministry. We would have children and it would be a peice of cake and I was strong enough to never be really tempted again. We would continue in ministry and personal healing without resistance or roadblocks and then our children would grow up and become great people of God and we would sail of into the retirement community content and full. Well, that really was my plan. Unspoken ofcourse. That was my expectation of God. Remember back when I had given my life to Christ and told Him He could do with it what He so chose? What had I done? Had I only dreamed of surrendering my life to Him so that He could fill my time till something better came along? In my ignorance for whatever my motivation I began to have a plan that was mine again. It started with an appetite. One that I was not willing to acknowledge to myself or anyone else. It layed in wait deep in the recesses of my heart for the right moment to strike and then when I was in the right situation it began to seductively creep, inch and slither its way to the surface. It was smart. It's name was "Pride". It's desire for being on top, being in control, being recognized and being wanted was insatiable. It began with a thought which felt good that rooted itself in an attitude. Then it was attitude that took form in my beliefs. My beliefs began to come out in words. Those words had to be justified by behaviors and my behaviors, well they lead to a new thought. With each thought cycle over and over, deeper and deeper I waided out into the river of me and soon I was no longer touching bottum. I had gone to far from the righteous realization that my life, my heart, my thoughts, my attitudes, my gifts or abilities all were given to me in order to be on mission with God in my world. It was to be used to bring people to Jesus not serve my wicked lust for acknowledgement or to feel like, "yah, I am awesome at this!" Soon years had passed. I woke up one day and looked back over my again miserable existance. I saw the years of struggle in my marriage and with my small children. I saw the clammering to get to the top in my career. I saw the accusations I had said to God about why I was not where I wanted to be in my life, why nothing was ever enough for me. I had not heard Him speak to me in so long and my heart was desperate to hear from Him once again. I saw what I had done in my pursuit to "get a life". I heard Him begin to whisper to come back to Him. He said, come to me. Read my book. Pray to Me. I will meet with you." So I went and bought a Bible study. I was intent when I went to the store I would buy nothing unless I felt the witness of the Holy Spirit. In my private time I had been begging God to show me my purpose again. I could not see the future as it had been in my past. I was in a very scary place. My attention was drawn to a study named "Called and Accountable" by Henry Blackaby. This was the one. I went home and began it the next morning. I was confronted with the question, "Do you think God wants to use your life to accomplish His purposes?" YES! YES! YES! Ofcourse I wanted to believe that. And of course He does. And then this, "However, there are times when God looks for someone to use, but does not find anyone who is willing or living in a way that God could trust them with His work." The finger of guilt was pointed right at me. I knew my secret sin. I knew what I was after. Why would God trust me with His thing when I always tried to make it mine? Then I was confronted with the scripture of God calling Ezekiel as a "watchman" for His people. "Maybe you are recognizing that you have not been a faithful watchperson where God has placed you. Stop and spend time asking God to forgive you and release your life to be used by Him for His purposes today." This was it. The heart of the matter. God had stopped me at every turn. Everything I tried came to nothing in its end. I had a purse with a gaping hole in the bottum. I had committed my life to Him and ministry all those years ago and here I was entrenched in the "cares of this world". It was all mine now. My plans, my money, my kids, my husband, my church, my gifts, my knowledge. I mouthed the words that God did this and God did that and God in His mercy did do things and accomplish things in, through and around me but I accomplished a lot too on my own and I took the credit in my heart for most of what I saw Him do. And honestly in panic and self reliance I made choices of where to live and where to work and when to do things and when to not based on my own discretion. I'd "pray" but really I intended to do what would make me feel the best. What I was the most comfortable with. I didn't really want to hear what God wanted because that may not even be in my decision pool. I wanted God to release me to serve Him again but He wanted me to know that I would be serving Him not serving me and that meant me not having some set agenda for the rest of my life. At this I was broken. I wept and felt exposed. God saw me and I felt loved not rejected. He was big again and I was so small. I was put back in my place and that's where I wanted to be all along.

You see, God will not share His glory with anyone. We Christians think that we really have God fooled because we think we really have the world fooled. No one is fooled by our pretentious lives. We go where they go. We are entertained by what they are entertained by. We set goals how the world tells us to. We get degrees in areas we think will make money or be sufficient for a lifetime. We run our churches the way they run their businesses. We listen to their music in our "ministries". We change our names because it will be more appetizing to the world. We create processes that are so similar to the world's processes that going into a Christian clinic can feel like going to any average medical clinic. We even treat one another like the world treats each other. The Bible says "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:35) We compromise! And we do it because at some point we are tempted away in our hearts with something the world has that we have wanted or thought all along. Something that we have never brought under submission to Jesus and His call to serve him with our lives. I am not preaching being some fanatical, cave dwelling anarchist. I am saying that we, I , all of us follow our own way. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."(Prov 16:25) By death does the author mean actual heart stopping, no pulse, brain dead death? Maybe, but I think that it would be more sufficiently explained by saying a spiritual death. Maybe it's a life that was once impassioned and now only duty. Maybe it's a ministry that once was doing the real work of changing lives and now has the reputation of what once was and is just keeping people coming back so everyone keeps their jobs. Maybe it is a relationship with Christ that was once alive and active and now is swept into a corner and feels like a burden. Maybe it is a person who couldn't believe that God really meant He was going to send them into ministry and waiting meant they were being a fool for their belief so they chucked that and went to work for just some place and forgot God's call. "Death" is the storyline WE write that is specific to our life. But it always leaves us with the same realization that we are going our own way and we were created for something greater and purer and something that has eternal significance. God is writing a story and if we want to be part of it we must not try to take the pen from the writer's hand. We are on mission with Him in our world. His mission. His plan. His call.

An illustration from "Called and Accountable". This man's name was John. He was a "personal bodyguard for a member of a high profile family in Texas. Ealier in John's life he had sensed a call to missions and ministry, but through the years he had wandered away from God and was not serving as God intended. Through circumstances out of John's control, he was falsely accused of some things and demoted to sitting in a guard shack outside of one of the family's homes. During this time he had the option to become angry, but instead he looked to God for understanding. God assured John that the call to be on mission had not changed after all the wasted years. John released his life to the Lord and renewed his comitment to the call. Within a short time a ministry contacted John to serve by working with boys and men. Today, John travels the country working with churches, calling men back to their relationship with God. To talk to him is to hear a heart that loves to serve the lord and help men and boys. To look over his life is to see that God had never released him from the call and was working in his life to cause him to will and want to follow God's claim on his life."(pg53)

If you have written the first few chapters of your story, stop and let God tell you the rest. Let Him lead you. Obey His voice. Wait on Him. Wait. Don't compromise any longer. Search your heart, your beliefs and your values. Acknowledge where you are at today. Let Him refresh you and restore you to Himself and then follow Him. Let Him finish the story. Let Him be the hero in your story. God will not share His glory with another.