One rule for interpreting Scripture is to read the context and let it be a major factor in figuring out what any verse or part of a verse means. This morning at first reading, I thought that Chambers was pulling a verse out of context to make his point. However, after looking at the context more closely, I could see why he decided that this is about knowing and doing the will of God:
. . . When anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:13–14)
Chambers describes the difference between human initiative and initiative that is inspired by God. People say things like, “Buck up, take your reluctance by the throat, throw it overboard, and walk out into the thing!” or in other words, “Don’t be a coward. Bite the bullet and get on with it.” He identifies this as ordinary human initiative.
I’ve had people try to motivate me with words like that. Once I was struggling with not seeing God answer my prayers and someone said something like: “Pray more, try harder.” My heart fell because I knew answers to prayer are up to God, not to me.
Chambers says, “We all have any number of visions and ideals when we are young, but sooner or later we find that we have no power to make them real.” I know by my own experience that ‘trying harder’ is a human response. God never says that to me. Later, He gave His answer: “Trust Me” and “Walk by faith, not by sight.”
Yet Chambers says there is a time when God does tell His people to “Buck up, don’t be a coward.” For instance, He gave me a vision for ministry, yet it is not happening. Did I expect it to fall out of the cupboard? Or is it not happening because He has not granted me the grace and wherewithal to make it happen. Is this a dead issue?
Chambers says this sense of being unable is normal, as is the questioning that haunts our hearts. Nothing will happen until God comes to us with: “Arise from the dead.” When His Spirit moves me, it comes with amazing power, power that lifts me from my deadness to do that impossible thing.
This reminds me of the people of Israel when they stood on the banks of the Red Sea. There the water parted only after they put their feet in it, not while they stood and waited. Many times I’ve received words from God after I opened my mouth and started to speak. Also, when Jesus said to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch forth thy hand,” it was not healed until the man did what Jesus told him to do.
When the timing of God is right, His Spirit will let me know what I must do. It will be like “Arise from the dead” and when I hear it, but it will not be anything like “try harder.” This is hard to explain, but at the voice of God, I have to get up and get at it — God will not lift me up — but if I do that initial action, then God’s power and His life will be there so I can follow through.
Bob has booked two remaining tests to find out if there are any physical reasons for him passing out. He is feeling good today, even went to work for a few hours. He was told not to drive. How fortunate that our son works in the same building and was able to pick him up this morning. He came home early with me as his driver.