Random Blog Clay Feet: November 07, 2008
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Friday, November 07, 2008

Digging Past the Sand

I began to think about something this morning that I want to unpack more. As I thought about the motivations that we seem to wait for before most of us get serious about drawing close to God or obeying His will, I noticed that most of those motivations are rooted in fear. It is a pattern that is very pervasive in most of our lives and I see it in mine just as much. We tend to procrastinate doing the truly important things we should do until dangers are so imminent that we feel we must get serious about God or it may be too late.

There are variations on this pattern but it seems to be rather consistent. Sometimes we might decide to move closer to God for other reasons, but much of the time we tend to prefer to maintain the status quo or maybe we want to continue to indulge in a few pleasures first before we feel that we have to give up what we enjoy and begin to follow God's ways more closely.

But as I thought about the results of this kind of thinking something alarming came to my attention. And it is not the fact that we might not have enough time to finish getting close to God before we may die or be killed as many people might warn. No, there is a much greater danger than even death itself that can preclude or at least greatly inhibit our ability and desire to get serious about our relationship with God. This hidden danger has to do with the very nature of fear itself.

I am coming to realize that what God desires and what we really need in order to be properly aligned with Him and strengthened during a time of crisis and intense pressure is not more information or just facts of truth. What we must have if we are to be ultimately found on the right side of the great spiritual battle about to explode on this earth is an intimate and unbreakable love relationship with our Creator, Lover and Redeemer. We need a confidence that goes far deeper than just head knowledge or emotional good feelings.

This is something that I am afraid most Christians know very little about though they may talk about it a great deal. And I include myself in that class. The problem is that most religion is so oriented for the left brain or is just based on emotions alone that an intimate and obedient relationship with Jesus at the depth and intensity needed to carry us through the intense times just before us is outside of our present abilities to even comprehend.

This intimacy with God that we need so desperately is very similar to the relationship seen in very healthy and dynamic marriages which are also rather in short supply today. It is a relationship that is filled with real romance, real devotion to the other person and total commitment to the relationship no matter what may come or how one may feel. This is a covenant relationship that ultimately supersedes even our instincts for life itself which is also something very unfamiliar to most western minds.

But there is something very important about developing the many tendrils, like little silk threads, needed to have a strong love relationship with another heart. Cultivating this kind of deep heart-level relationship usually does not happen very effectively if at all in an atmosphere electric with fear. While fear may be a very powerful motivator, fear is also a very unstable and ultimately unreliable foundation upon which to build a relationship.

Fear and love are pretty much total opposites to each other. The Bible clearly says that perfect love casts out all fear. But the opposite is equally true as well. Fear seems to be designed to preempt and undermine the very essence of what makes up love. So now as we begin to see the tension here between these two principles we can also begin to realize the serious problem that emerges when we put off embracing an intimate love relationship with God until there is more fear present in the atmosphere around us.

We really are living in relatively peaceful times though we may not realize or believe it very much. Because of our tendency to dwell on our problems more than our blessings and opportunities we may think that we are already being severely oppressed and persecuted. But I have no doubt whatsoever that very shortly we will look back on these present days and would then give anything to return to the circumstances we are living in now to take advantage of the opportunities that will soon be gone forever. We will realize too late that in our current situation today it is far easier to pursue a deep, solid heart relationship with God than it will ever be when fear is forcing itself into our minds and hearts with an intensity that we have never known before in our whole life.

The book of Daniel prophecies that at the end of this world's history there will be a time of trouble worse than has ever been imagined in the whole history of this world. (Dan. 12:1) We know it is coming because God's Word cannot lie and every prophecy always finds fulfillment. But I also believe that we make a potentially fatal mistake when we try to use fear of this impending time of trouble to be the foundation of our relationship with God. God is not looking for a fear-based relationship with His children but a loving parent/child relationship and ultimately a marriage relationship that is full of love and trust and mutual intimacy at the heart level. This is the only kind of connection with the heart of God that will qualify us to be ready to meet Jesus when He comes again to take His children home with Him to heaven.

Fear is the worst possible motivator that we can rely upon to connect us with God and prepare us for the coming times ahead of us. Yes, God will make use our fears in the initial stages of our movement toward Him because that is all we are paying attention to at first. But God wants to wean us away from the false motivations rooted in fear as soon as possible and replace those unstable motives with a solid foundation of love, trust and saving faith that is best cultivated and nurtured in spending intimate time with Him in an environment free of all the coercion and distractions and stress that fear always produces.

Real love is free of all the counterfeit elements of Satan's kingdom, and this especially means that it is free of fear. We will learn to have a healthy respect for the tremendous awesomeness of God and the dangers of not being synchronized with God when approaching His presence. But this is not the same kind of fear that our flesh uses for motivating us. It is unfortunate that the two emotions even use the same word in English because it causes so much confusion in people's minds. It also has the problem of allowing many people to justify their use of the wrong kind of fear to motivate others to come to God for salvation.

A religion rooted and founded upon fear is like building a house upon the sand. (Matt. 7:26) Fear is very much like sand as a foundation for the life. Remember that sand is really just a lot of little rocks. It is not really different material from foundation rock that we need to build our Christian experience on except for at least one very major difference. The rocks that make up sand are unstable and easily shift position whenever it encounters wind, water and other shifting elements. On the other hand, a single solid bedrock is not vulnerable to those elements of crisis and keeps the house of our experience built upon it stable and secure when a crisis comes.

But we must not wait until we see the storm clouds looming on the horizon before we begin on securing our life on a more sure foundation of faith rooted in love. We need to spend every effort now while times are good in intimate interaction with the goodness and kindness of God's heart so that our own hearts will be filled to overflowing with all the positive attributes of God and there will be no room left for Satan's counterfeits.

I need this counsel and advice just as much as anyone. I want to take seriously my present circumstances to do everything possible to cultivate a solid connection with the heart of God to prepare me for the coming crisis that is coming very quickly. I do not want to be so distracted by thinking about the fears that try to impose themselves on me repeatedly that I fail to engage in real worship, in real passionate devotion encounters with Jesus that will teach me the tough lessons of faith that I need to secure me to the only true Rock. Neither do I want to waste away precious time in relatively meaningless distractions like news, entertainment or anything that will draw me away from keeping in tune with heaven. This is my prayer for myself today and for you as well.

Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, 'Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise replied, 'No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I do not know you.' Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Matthew 25:1-13 NRSV)