I have the firm belief that questions are not for answers, in the same way that journeys are not for destinations. That may seem counterintuitive, however people are not perfected by answers, but by process, and destinations themselves do not necessarily equate to discovery. The point of a good question is to lead you to a better question, thereby investing you in the process of relationship. And since intimacy is in the journey, it’s in the process of that journey where discovery takes place.
Last week I wrote about being counted among the doers–about not merely hearing the word and approving of it, but of consciously breaking free of the tyranny of comfort in order to risk on account of Christ. Comfort is deceptive. Those who fight for it fight against their own souls, and confuse their spiritual numbness as a blessing from God. Approving of the message of Christ should not be confused with actively following Him. Passive approval is not synonymous with true belief, but rather with spiritual indifference. The hearers approve. The doers risk.
As I was reading this past week, I came across a familiar verse that has taken on new meaning for me in the light of active, risky faith:
“One thing I have asked of the Lord, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.”–Psalm 27:4. The distance between asking of and dwelling in is seeking after. At some point, in order to experience the identity to which we have been called, we will have to walk out what we say we believe in, and we will have to do it in the full embrace of discomfort, risk, and failure.
Why do I keep coming back to this issue? Because I have seen too many people sabotage their potential as they wait for God to do for them what He has called them to do with Him. Because I have seen too many people pray great prayers of faith without taking simple steps of faith, inadvertently living out a form of godliness without power. And because spiritual passivity only has two children–Apathy and her brother, Apostacy.
There are two stories in the Bible that I love seeing juxtaposed with each other. The first is in Exodus 14. As Moses and the children of Israel are backed up against the Red Sea, watching Pharaoh and his army descend upon them, they are helpless to do anything. But Moses says to the people, “Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord. The Egyptians you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you will keep your peace.” And the Lord did fight for them. He parted the sea, and He defeated Pharaoh’s army.
The second story is in 2 Samuel 23. As the Israelite army fled before the Philistines, David and Eleazar stood their ground. Eleazar fought hard and slaughtered many of the Philistines. He fought so hard, and for so long, that his hand was frozen to his sword…”and the Lord brought about a great victory.”
There are–and will continue to be–moments in our lives when we are helpless to do anything except stand and watch God fight on our behalf. But the majority of our lives will be lived in the latter…in the place where we choose to pick up our swords, and stand our ground and fight. And we will fight long and hard, covered with the sweat of battle, the dirt of the field, and the blood of our enemy (spiritually speaking), but the Lord will bring about the great victory.
What the children of Israel experienced at the Red Sea was amazing. But it actually did nothing to change their hearts and develop their intimacy with God. What Eleazar experienced, he experienced alongside his king. That experience created a unity and trust that ushered him into a position of intimacy and influence.
The intimacy and power that we long for is not a matter of asking or arriving, it is a matter of following, of actively going where Jesus goes and doing what He does. Yes, you should ask. But then you should pick up your sword and go stand in the same field as your King.