Monday, April 9, 2007

Personal Nineveh

I wrote this poem not long after I returned to Christ, broken and battered by a life spent running from God. Even now months later, what I wrote still holds true in my life, and I thought it would be worth sharing . . .

Personal Nineveh

You showed me Your perfect plan in my youth,
And I cowardly jumped ship to Tarshish. (1)
You called me to be a witness of truth,
And I chose the belly of the fish.

I turned my camel away from the needle.
I kept my riches and ignored your decrees.
My gourd’s shadow was devoured by the weevil,
And still I lived in iniquity.

Who was I to question the Lord’s guidance:
To have dared to exalt my imagination
Against His most holy ordinance:
To have said, “I do not need salvation?”

I foolishly spent my inheritance
And sowed the only seeds I could sow:
Seeds of destruction and mischance,
Whose fruit is a life of sorrow and woe.

Woe to the man that turns his face from God.
Woe to the man who lives by my example.
Woe to the man who lives a life of fraud.
Woe to the man with the spirit of Babel.

Brethren cast down your man-made towers:
Those conclusions contrary to God’s great plan.
Be mindful of your numbered hours
And the time lost outside His caring hands.

Great is the man who knows God’s will;
Blessed be the man who knows and follows,
For in doing His will are His promises fulfilled,
Defying His will brings His curses also.

Yet, Praise be to God, though we may run,
He is never too far: never so removed,
To withhold welcome for the prodigal son,
Whose sins, washed clean by the blood, are not reproved.

Barukh attah Adonai Elohaynu, (2)
You who are worthy of all my praise.
Because you lovingly drew me back to you,
Despite my rebellious ways.

Thank You for never giving up the chase,
Though I ran a thousand miles,
I could not escape your loving embrace.
You have brought me back to Your church’s aisle.

Blessed be the Lord God and His only Son,
Though I have lost everything that I built,
What is any of that in comparison
To what I have gained through the blood spilt?

Thank you, Adonai Tsuri v’go’ali, (3)
You are the foundation of my soul’s rebirth,
And it will stand against adversity,
Even unto the end of the Earth.

To God be the power and the Glory forever,

(1) Jon 1:2-3 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

(2) Hebrew transliteration: Blessed be the name of the Lord our God

(3) Hebrew tranlsiteration: The Lord my rock and my salvation.

When God Shows Up

I learned to read reading the King James Bible. The knowledge of God has been an intrinsical part of my life--all my life; even when I was running from God, I used my biblical knowledge of God's word to deny Him. That said, I think we can all agree that a knowledge of God is not the same as knowing God. We know a lot about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but we don't really know them personally. However, the issue that has been bothering me since Christmas break is what does knowing God really mean. Sure, we can say it means believing in Jesus Christ, praying, reading the Bible, living a life that reflects God, doing right, etc. and I think these things are important, but do they really demonstrate knowing God, or just a knowledge of God? Is it possible that even these simple Christian truths that we rely so heavily on miss the mark?

So often I've heard the phrase "have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ", and I ask what does that relationship look like? Does God only maintain His side of the relationship with that soft voice we've come to recognize as divine and maybe sometimes through circumstances that look like coincidence, but everyone knows really aren't. I've had a lot of relationships in my lifetime, and they all had much more direct interaction than this. Relationships involve conversations, emotional involvement, physical contact, etc. God's comparison of His people to prostitutes and adulteresses, to Himself as Father, and to us as friends throughout the scriptures shows that He views our relationship with Him in more intimate terms as well.

I think God uses the small voice and the coincidences because we hold back in our part of the relationship and only respond to these things. We're like autistic children; too much stimulus and we start screaming and run away. There have been times in my relationship with God, that He has moved beyond typical interactions, and I've felt His presence physically touching me; I've heard His voice in more audible tones. Every time I've approached this intimate relationship with God, I've pulled back, and yet it is the type of relationship I desire most. It is this simultaneous desire and hesitancy that creates a constant struggle in my life. When I sin, it is usually a direct result of this struggle. I start to get too close to God and pull back and do something to purposely push Him away. Those of you who know my whole testimony are probably thinking this sounds very familiar, you'd be right. However, unlike the last time, I'm taking a stand right here, right now, to press on in this relationship God desires from me, and overcome the desire to run.

In an attempt to better understand exactly what an intimate relationship with God is going to require of me, I plan on using this blog as a place to collect my thoughts and studies, and I hope that what God shows me here will be helpful to others looking for a deeper relationship with the Most High. I am going to begin by looking at different men and women of God in the Bible and elsewhere, their lives, and their relationships with God, and attempt to build a guide for my own life. I realize that an intellectual study of these relationships isn't going to build my own relationship, but I want to know everything I can about the One who I am building this relationship with. When we make new friends, we start by asking questions, "what do you do for a living?", "what do you like to do in your spare time?", "where are you from?", "what do you want to do?", etc. I think our relationship with God must begin with the same search for information, it's impossible to intimately know someone and know nothing about them. I just hope that this knowledge about God gives me some insight about how to interact with Him when He comes near, and more importantly the strength to stand in His presence and not pull away, because I love Him with all my heart, and I know He loves me infinitely more.

Most of all, I want to know Him more.


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