January 17, 2012

Seeing God’s chariots

Before reading Frank Peretti’s books that vividly described spiritual warfare, I never thought much about activities in the unseen spiritual world. I knew that God cannot be seen, but His presence is real and that was enough. Those books are fiction, but they helped my understanding. So also has stories from missionaries and others who have seen the unseen in experiences similar to the servant of Elisha, an Old Testament prophet.
When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.”
So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15–17)
The enemies of God surrounded this prophet and from all appearances, it seemed he would be taken or killed. His servant was in a panic, but Elisha knew that God was with him. He asked the Lord to give this servant a glimpse into the unseen world.

All of God’s people need eyes opened that we may see the unseen. Certainly God has angels at work to protect us, but we may or may not need to see that reality. This depends somewhat on our ability and need to walk by faith and not by sight.

However, there is another reality hinted at in this story. It is the reality of God supplying “horses and chariots” of another kind to empower and carry us through all the events of life. These are His provisions to give us grace as needed so our situations are victories instead of losses and defeats.

John Piper wrote an article called “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” (link is at the right). This article has encouraged my husband to use his CLL (chronic lymphatic leukemia) as a way to glorify God and draw others into conversation about their eternal destiny. Instead of cancer defeating him, God gave him power (horses) and the means (chariots) to carry this burden with grace and purpose.

The author of today’s devotional says that when our eyes are open to the forces of God working on our behalf, then any event of life, great or small, joyful or sad, becomes a chariot the moment we treat it as such. If not, the smallest trial may crush us into misery or despair. The choice is ours.

Right now, my personal trial concerns this a-fib heart condition. Yesterday we travelled from Miami to Edmonton, from 80°F to – 20°F, and through four airports with heavy luggage. My heart had been normal for several days, but started fluttering and missing beats Sunday evening. Devotions back on January 14 urged me to praise God all day, so by grace I remembered that and did it.

God promises to inhabit the praises of His people and the Bible says that in His presence there is fullness of joy. In Psalm 71:23–24, the psalmist verifies this by saying, “My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long . . .”

I verify it too. As I praised God, He filled me with joy. His amazing joy overcomes fear and discomfort. It also releases the tongue to talk about God’s goodness to others. This is a lesson in not wasting any infirmities, but letting God use them to make me more like Jesus. Praising the Lord instead of feeling sorry for myself is a big step in that direction. (And I see my doctor tomorrow, which is also an act of obedience.)

Lord, my selfish nature means that some days it would be easier to fold up into a pity-party than make any effort to obey You or praise You. Yet I know that any time that I can obey You is a gift. Thank You also for the gift of praise and the gift of joy that goes with it. Thank You that You give me what I need to do what has to be done, even when it is physically challenging or simply one of those “I don’t feel like it” tasks. I’m glad for Your care and glad that You can use anything for my good and ultimately for Your glory. I entrust You with this trial, knowing that “my heart and my flesh may fail, but You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)

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