May 2, 2016

Reaching for God

God’s man Habakkuk was given a vision. At first he was totally dismayed. How could God use wicked people to judge people more righteous than themselves? Essentially, God told him to be patent . . .

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:3)

Sometimes patience is confused with ‘I don’t care.’ It is easy to be serene about a thing if it doesn’t matter. However, this is not the waiting that God was asking for. It carries the idea of endurance, staying power, and in this case, keeping eyes on the vision that God had given. Because God is a solid rock who keeps His promises, patience finds its source in Him, in His very nature and faithfulness. The New Testament writer said of Moses: “By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27)

For the people of God, patience is closely tied to faith. We can wait on those promises and for those visions because we trust Him to keep His word. The next thing God said to Habakkuk was a judgment against his enemies, and encouragement to trust Him.

Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:4)

Habakkuk was dealing with a national issue, but living by faith is for personal issues too. Years ago, God revealed something to me concerning the salvation of a family member. Looking for signs of that happening is easy, but when I do that I am not walking by faith or waiting on God for the reality of that vision. Walking by faith means trusting that God will do what He says, regardless of what I can see or not see. This means being devoted to God, not to the issue at hand. It also means I might go through a time of “temptation in the wilderness” where I get no word from Him, but I can endure that dark spell if my gaze is on God and not on what I want Him to do.

Sadly, much of my faith has depended on seeing God at work rather than seeing God, but today’s devotional reading points to a deeper truth. As Chambers says, trusting God is like reaching out for more than I have ever grasped. It is never being quite satisfied spiritually along with the idea that I can endure because I know God will eventually satisfy me, not so much with what I think I want, but with Himself. Paul knew this reaching, but he also knew the prize; it was the upward call of God, not anything to do with his spiritual growth or sanctification . . .

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. (Philippians 3:12–15)

Chambers says if I have only what I experience, I have nothing. But if I am inspired by the vision of God Himself, then I have more that can be experienced. For me, this is a deep and profound challenge.

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