Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Putting God in a Box

I have a strange feeling that my Father is taking me to a new adventure. Revelations and realizations over the long weekend left a pang in my heart, a painful urge to give up something important in exchange for the unknown. I'm not excited. At all.

This reminds me of Abram's story. Out of nowhere, God called a guy from Ur of Chaldeans to leave his country, his kindred and his father's household. Imagine being away from the comfort of a house and a family. God said He would make him a "great nation," his name a "great name" and he would become a "blessing". If we were in his shoes, we'd probably refute God saying, "Uhh... Sure, but wait! Isn't my wife old and barren already? And I too am of age, it might be best to just settle here and die. So umm.. is it really possible Lord?"

Without a word, Abram obeyed. He was 75 years old then. In the eyes of man, this may already be counted as righteousness, but not so with God yet. It was not until two decades later, when he was called righteous. After 20 years, Sarai, Abram's wife was still barren. Then God said "Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them. So shall your offspring be" (Gen. 15:5). Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.

His name was changed from Abram w/c means exalted father, to father of many a.k.a. Abraham.

Faith is more than believing that God exists. Faith entails us to believe in God with all our heart, mind and soul. Faith is trusting in God and believing in the Bible that He has written (from creation to revelation). Faith is believing that Jesus has come to die in place of sinners, and knowing that we can can do nothing apart from God.

Faith in God also entails you to lose your life to find it. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 10:39). I felt the intensity of this verse just recently. Many times we would seek God's will and all that, we would give Him choices, "Lord, should I enter company A or company B?" or sometimes no choice at all, "Lord, can you pretty please give me a marketing job at this company. It has always been my dream to work there. You know that Lord right?" not knowing that we are already putting Him in a box. We are limiting His works to conform to our liking.

At the time we were born, our lives have been planned out already, so usually our prayers would depend on the stage of life we stand at the moment. Our parents enroll us to school (we pray for good grades, safety and all that), then we apply for a job in a top company (we pray that we get in and promoted), and then we have a family (we pray that God will send us our 'God's Best') and then we watch our children grow, we retire then we die. It's basically that. Is this faith?

Faith is the other way around. Instead of telling God what to do, we follow God with all our hearts. This statement sounds very sinful. But I tell you, it can be very painful. There was a lady named Lilias Trotter who lived in the 19th century. She was a lover of the arts. She was really good that her maestro told her she really had a future in the world of arts, her paintings could become timeless and priceless. But then God called her to become a missionary. She then had to choose one pursuit: arts or God?

She chose to follow God. It must have been painful for her to leave the world of arts. And I guess this is one great example of literally losing one's life for Jesus' sake.

A key to understanding what it means to follow God is in Romans 12:2. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Not being conformed to this world may bring about rejection and ridicule. (I don't know what's worse, losing one's life or this.) To be transformed by the renewing of your mind is letting God change us continually to become more like Christ, to think like Christ, to love like Christ, to be like Christ. Then, we will be able to have life, one that lives the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Imagine, we are being given not only a good will, but one that is acceptable or pleasing to God and PERFECT. This beats the painful start!

Lilias Trotter who was frail in health followed God to Algeria, Africa. She was able to plant seeds in soil that was thirsting for the gospel despite the burning heat, scorpions and all the deadly diseases in the community. When the people were ready to hear, God put her there and He made her life rich and long. Through her, lives were brought to Christ.

With regards to her love for the arts, God didn't take it away from her. God actually blessed her all the more. She was able to print at least 27 books, parables and gospel tracks with her paintings and artworks in them. Wonderful, huh? :)

Both Abraham and Lilias left something very valuable to them, a comfort zone and a passion, for a God who could not be seen. This God fulfilled His magnificent purposes through them as they took step after step of faith. After reading their stories, I am reminded that God, who is not bounded in a box, can do immeasurably more than what we ask or imagine that is at work within us.

Have faith in our Father, princes and princesses!

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