A SOLDIERS FIELDMarch 10, 2010
II Timothy 2:4 “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
It’s probably safe to say that, despite our heartfelt desire to be in a place of complete obediance unto Jesus, most of us do not fully line up with the level of discipleship that he has called us to. Everyone who is born of the Spirit continues to be a work in progress as we daily become less like us and more like Jesus. And yet it’s unlikely that many of us are so committed that we would carry out any prompting from on high with no regard to prevailing circumstances, the potential consequences of obediance to the leading, the possibility that others may not understand (thus causing us to wonder if the action will cause scattering) the lack of a logical format, the laying aside of our own ambitions, and what have you. Learning to do as Jesus instructed; to “follow thou me” is indeed a lifelong process, as time and again, our own reasoning will make note of the ambience, convince us that we know how to approach a given situation, and remind us that our personal agenda may well be in jeopardy.
Yet we are called to “forsake all and follow Jesus” regardless of the fallout in the physical realm. A level of obediance that’s void of our own aspirations and is focused completely upon the Savior. A “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” devotion that will not falter in the face of adversity, uncertainty of outcome, or even in the event that our better half should ask “Dost thou still retain thine integrity?” It’s a place where many initially fear to enter, however, a life of unfeigned obediance is also one of unsurpassed liberty. Such a one has tasted the indescribable goodness of the Lord and has rejoicingly let go of all that is contrary to that goodness. A couple of days ago, I unwittingly found myself in Matthew chapter 8 (unwittingly because I was heading somewhere else, but ended up there instead) where some familiar passages on “following” came to the forefront. In verse sixteen, we find that Jesus is casting out devils with his word and healing all who are sick. These deliverances had an incredible impact on a particular scribe.
Matthew 8: 19 “And a certain scribe came and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Scripture doesn’t exactly tell us whether this scribe had truly given thought to what he was saying or if he was just caught up in the moment. Nonetheless, Jesus offers a quick dose of reality; both to the scribe and to all who would hear of this account in subsequent generations:
Matthew 8:20 “And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”
In other words, being a disciple wasn’t a part-time arrangement from which one could return to their street address after a long day. It was, and continues to be, a complete separating from the former lusts and itineraries. A letting go, from the heart, of the worlds agenda and trophies as we place our affections upon those things which are unseen and evelasting. When we are in such a place with the Lord, letting go of the life that we once had will seem as nothing. I fear that few of us have completely entered such a place and I’m acutely aware of areas in my own life where growing is needed in regard to this. The next passage offers a glimpse into just how absolute our commitment is to be.
Matthew 8:21-22 “And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord. suffer me first to go and bury my father.
But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.”
This may seem harsh, but many truths are present in this passage. We are called to a level of following that may, at times, appear insensitive. If this disciple obeyed the Lord, there may well have been folks who observed “what an insensitive son; to miss his fathers eulogy.
A thought just came to mind as I was typing the above passage. (This could be trouble) Certainly, whenever a loved one or close friend passes into eternity, we gather with the family as we remember a life lived. This is honorable, and we never know when an opportunity to share Jesus with one who is ready to hear will emerge. (Ecclesiastes 7:1-2) Suppose, however, that, following the passing of someone close to us, the Lord reveals that, instead of attending the eulogy, we’re to drive to a nearby city and share the gospel in a park. This would certainly have the kinfolk scratching their heads, however, in truth, the eternal abode of the person who has passed is now settled; unless one has a level of faith comparable to that of smith Wigglesworth. (we should) However, there may be, unbeknownst to us, a soul in that distant park, whose heart has been opened. Their conversion, in fact their eternal destination, hinges upon our leaving where we are presumably “supposed to be” and going to the park where this soul will soon be passing through.
This is a hard thing to consider and one should only do this upon the distinct prompting of the Holy Spirit. I fear, however, that if we were to be prompted to do such a thing, many of us would unwittingly tune it out as we reasoned “that cannot possibly be the will of God.” My wife lost an uncle several months ago, and, once again, the family was granted an opportunity to reflect upon how temporal this present world is. If I had gone up to Kalamazoo to pass out tracts instead of attending the funeral, it would have generated an ugly scene in the house of timbob. Again, that would be an action to take “only if granted a precise prompting,” however, we tend to be more conformed to this worlds way of looking at things than we would like to admit. If the Lord places a thing on our heart, there is a reason for it; regardless of how bizarre it may appear. (And now, I’ll never be able to attend a funeral without, at least the imagination, revisiting this post.)
The account in Matthew chapter 8 continues:
Matthew 8:23 “And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.
Note: if the disciples hadn’t entered the ship, they would have been left behind. A ship completely separates one from the land and, unless one is at the helm, renders self-determination impossible. We cause many complications when we try to take control of the helm.
Matthew 8:24-26 “And behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
And the disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”
We are to be in a place of such confidence and commitment that the storms of life fail to generate apprehension. Waves going over a ship is a very intimidating thing. (although I thought it was cool when, during my navy days, a certain storm was causing our ship to pitch forward to such a degree that the front of the flight deck was hitting the surface of the water) But if our affections are completely upon the Lord and the age to come, potential fallout in the physical realm will not be a hinderance. “Why are ye fearful O ye of little faith?” What an incredible place to abide; close in with the Lord and not allowing the threatenings of life to interfere.
Well I have to go, despite the need to clean up this posting.A most profound peace and contentment awaits us as we grow into a place of complete obediance. To be in a place where we take no thought for our life in this world and can sincerely say unto the Lord “behold, I am here” is to be in a place of total liberty. I’m wanting to share an encounter that transpired last Monday in Kalamazoo, however, this post is running way long. Lord willing, I’ll get to it in a later posting because it touches on the peace that one has when their affections are on things above. Until then, blessings always in Jesus name.