DULLES’ MODELS OF REVELATION AND THE EVANGELICAL VIEW

The issue of this post centers on the book “Models of Revelation” by Avery Dulles. In this book, he describes different models or constructs that he believes God reveals Himself and His Will to believers. Dulles’ attempt to separate the different models is quite good but unfortunately lacks clarity on what a true evangelical Christian model of revelation is. This will be broken out into two post with the remaining models in a separate post as well as what an evangelical model is believed to really include.

Can the Unfathomable ever be scaled down to a single, limited view of how He works? Is there a model that can be used for finite beings to know an infinite God? In the book “Models of Revelation” by Avery Dulles he explains how various Christians over the years have tried to know and experience the divine revelations of God. He chooses five different views that have been prominent since the 20th century and breaks them down into theological models. “Their purpose is not to present replicas of God or of the divine action, but to suggest ways of accounting for theologically relevant data and for explaining, up to a point, what Christians believe on a motive of faith.”[1] But, Dulles himself recognizes that “a given system, even though correct in what it affirms, will inevitably fall short of fathoming the mystery of the divine being or the divine activity.”[2]

Therefore, to truly respond to Dulles’ limited view of the evangelical model, we must observe each models strengths and a weaknesses as Dulles defines them. As Dulles breaks down each model, we shall see how limited his evangelical model is and why it needs to be redefined.

Model One: Revelation as Doctrine

In this model, also known as the evangelical model, revelation “is principally found in clear propositional statements attributed to God as authoritative teacher.”[3] The “crucial moment of revelation” for this model is the formulation of teaching in a clear conceptual form. This model is understood on the analogy of authoritative teaching where God is seen as the infallible teacher who communicates knowledge by speech and writing to His recipients, as pupils.[4]

Dulles does show this model as believing in general revelation where God has revealed himself in nature, but that His revelation in nature is not sufficient for salvation. He believes that all special revelation is necessary for salvation, which is not completely accurate since it is limited by space and time and that is what sets it apart. The treatment of inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture is accurate and seem to reflect mainstream evangelical understanding.

The major problem with Dulles’ understanding of this model is how he labels a very narrow use of proposition. Part of the issue is that most of the Bible is not propositional in the strict sense and it is not doctrinal. He confuses revelation and a response to revelation, which is doctrine. He essentially equates revelation with the meaning of the Bible. In contrast, an evangelical would see doctrine as a response to revelation and not all revelation as doctrine.

Dulles does offer a good amount of positives in this model, specifically the stress of God speaking and being our teacher, which is lost in other models. His emphasis on inspiration and inerrancy, the emphasis on developing doctrine in response to the Scriptures and finally the emphasis on progressive revelation are all items the evangelical can agree with. This is a good start, but it is insufficient and narrow as a model of revelation for the evangelical in order to have a greater experience and knowledge of the Almighty.

Model Two: Revelation as History

This model “maintains that God reveals himself primarily in his great deeds, especially those which form the major themes of biblical history.”[5] The “crucial moment of revelation” for this model is the occurrence of historical events through which God signifies his intentions.[6] This model offers a greater deal of diversity which was missing in the first and stresses the priority of event over interpretation. The event is revelation and the interpretation of it is a response to the event. This model declares that the Bible is not revelation but an interpretation of history and it might even be a divine interpretation of history. The content and form of revelation is primarily the great deeds of God throughout history.

The strengths of this model is that is helps us to see that events are a form of revelation. It emphasizes the redemptive events of the Exodus and the events of Christ. It refocuses the attention on the great acts of God delivering and redeeming His people. But, to consolidate all of God’s work in history as revelatory is too narrow; while this model is a form of revelation, it cannot be the only form of divine revelation.

Model Three: Revelation as Inner Experience

Revelation occurs when God reveals Himself in an inner experience in the individual person that is personal and continuous. Revelation is a “privileged interior experience of grace or communion with God” that “depends on the mediation of Christ, who experienced the Father.”[7] God is both transcendent and imminent, particularly present in the inner experience. The “crucial moment of revelation” is “an immediate, interior perception of the divine presence.”[8] The content of revelation is God as He reveals Himself through a direct, unmediated encounter.

The major strengths of this model is that God is the content of revelation and that He reveals Himself in a personal and intimate way with His faithful followers. While there are many good things about experiencing God, it also raises concerns when this is the dominant form of revelation. This model rejects the distinction between general and special revelation because it denies general revelation. “One characteristic defect, it is not its emphasis on experience but rather its excessively narrow concept of experience.”[9] Dulles also points out is that it “makes rather selective use of the Bible and even contradicts many biblical texts.”[10] This model “deprives Scripture of revelational value and considers it the framework for a ‘language-event,’ an internal encounter in which one experiences authentic being.”[11]

[1] Avery Dulles, Models of Revelation, (Maryknoll: Orbis Books 1992), 32.

[2] Ibid, 32.

[3] Ibid, 27.

[4] Ibid, 33.

[5] Ibid, 27.

[6] Ibid, 28.

[7] Ibid, 27-28.

[8] Ibid, 28.

[9] Ibid, 81.

[10] Ibid, 78.

[11] Carl F. H. Henry, “The Authority and Inspiration of the Bible,” in The Expositor’s Bible

Commentary, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), 24.

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May 22 – The Explanation for Our Difficulties

It never dawned on me that a time of isolation could be an answer to Jesus’ prayer that we “may be one” with the Father as Jesus is. My independence is always trying to take me from being one with the Father. It causes me to not be “helping God to answer that prayer….” I am instead seeking my own goals. Chambers reminds me that in John 17, God’s purpose is not just to answer our prayers, “but that through prayer we might come to discern His mind.” Oh that my prayer life might be like that. That it may be so vital and dynamic and intimate with God that I am able to discern His Will. The prayer that God will answer is that of Jesus that we may be one just as Christ and the Father are one. How I pray that I may be close to Jesus like that. In this time of uncertainty about the future, Chambers reminds me that “God is not concerned about our plans.” He doesn’t ask if we want to go through different difficulties, yet allows these trials to happen to us for “His own purpose.” The things we go through are either making us better or they are going to make us more critical and judgmental, and more independent on our own way. They can make us more evil or godlier, depending on our relationship with God and how personal it is. I choose to be more “saintly” but my human nature gets the best of me and I take my eyes of the only One who can guide me through this time. If we truly believe and pray that God’s Will be done, we will receive encouragement and comfort according to John 17, “knowing that our Father is working according to His own wisdom, accomplishing what is best.” What an amazing thought! That even in the depths and despair of calamities and feeling all alone, we can hold on to the fact that God is working in His infinite wisdom to give us the very best. He knows what is best for us. I focus too much on my own little kingdom while God is preparing me for His big kingdom. Understanding God’s purpose will lead us to focusing on the bigger picture and not being cynical. I am so thankful that Christ prayed that we would be one with God. Yet, as I think about that statement I am racked with guilt because my life has been lived exactly the opposite. I have lived apart and disconnected from the Source of all life. Oh but the great joys of God’s amazing grace. What a great reminder that Chambers leaves us with when he says that “God will not leave us alone until we are one with Him…” because He is answering Jesus’ prayer. In this time, may God bring us near and may we depend on Him. May we seek His will, not ours.

Prayer life experiment

A few years ago, the men’s small group I was in decided to do a book study for a change of pace. The book that we did was called Soul Revolution by John Burke. The main theme of this book is how all too often in life we do not stay connected to the Source of all life. We may pray in the morning or before we go to bed but as we go through the day we forget about God. We try to do things on our own or just don’t talk to God about what is going on in life.

So the book encourages its readers to do an experiment, the experiment is called 60/60 (or 60 for 60). What this does is encourage us to be connected with God and build a normal attitude of talking to God and taking things to God on a consistent basis. It follows the verse of: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV). So what 60 for 60 does is encourage the reader every 60 minutes to talk to God for 60 days and see how your life and relationship with god changes.

One of the main themes is to be connected to God, to ask Him what He is saying and be open to the way He is moving in us. It is about reminding ourselves who God is. It’s not about praying to God all these things we need Him to do the next hour, even though you can, but it is more about reminding ourselves who God is and being open and willing to His guidance or moving in us.

Before I started this experiment, I had a pretty regular prayer life with God and would talk to Him throughout the day. It was more of a “God, I need this” or do this or help these people or whatever. He has really blessed me with an attitude of prayer. This can also cause me problems due to my nature which I will get to shortly. What this experiment did though was that it caused me to have an intentional time of prayer every hour and remind myself of who God is or His truths or what he is leading me to do. The experiment doesn’t require the person to pray for a certain length of time or say certain words but just set aside a moment and think of God, thank God, focus on Him, stay connected and build that dependency on Him.

This experiment happened over two years ago now and I still do it to this day. Thankfully, a friend of mine just let me know there is now an app available to download (I know it’s available for iPhone, not sure on other platforms). This app will send me an alert every hour and it has a verse and sometimes an encouraging word to guide the user with what to focus on this hour.

The reason that I mention this book and app is because God has really been working in my prayer life recently. It is something that I have been praying about and need so much help with. So it is amazing how God has reminded me that we “do not have because we do not ask.” I am thankful He has answered this prayer. One of the biggest problems I have that I eluded to earlier is that I struggle with making things into a very legalistic or ritualistic practice. So, when I pray and would do these prayers every 60 minutes, I turned it into my needs and what I want. I made it about me. Now I am not saying it’s bad to ask God for things. God obviously knows our needs and what is weighing on us and wants us to talk to Him. The problem was (and still is) that instead of focusing on God, adoring Him and giving Him a chance to speak, I was the one who did all the talking and I would fall into the same prayers. A sense of guilt would come over me if I didn’t pray a certain request or thing and honestly it is still a struggle. I would forget that He already knows my request and I wouldn’t have a conversation with Him. I was the one who did all the talking. I never listened. The joy of prayer, the power of prayer and the beauty of talking to God was lost. But God was listening and knew my needs, specifically with my prayer life and relationship with Him.

Over the last few months, God has changed me. One of the first things I do with my morning prayer is just read His Word and try to listen to what He has to say. I want to give Him a chance to talk. I went through the Psalms and tried to apply the George Muller principle of praying the Psalms. Sometimes I was successful, sometimes not. But it is all a daily work in progress.

Then this past weekend, God once again reminded me about prayer. That yes, it’s okay to ask God for things we need, but to examine our prayer life because our prayers are a great look into who we think God is and what we think about Him. If all our prayers are just about the things we need and a series of request, then our view of God is more of a genie or even something like a “sugar-daddy”. But, when we pray, if we stop to listen and think of Him and be reminded of His attributes, then just how much that helps us focus on Him and be reminded of who He is and who we are. It helps us remember that this is one of the greatest gifts He gave us and because of Christ we can enter the throne room with confidence. Prayer isn’t something to take lightly but what an awesome gift and treasure it is to talk to the Almighty.

So, as God has been working in me, He has had to remind me of the prayer that Jesus taught us to say. Jesus started with the adoration of God, His holiness and how His Will and ways are perfect and good and we want His Will, not ours. So as we pray, may we pray adoring and being reminded of God, focusing on Him, desiring His will and just be constantly connected with our Father who desires a relationship with us. Praise God for that and His great mercy!

Joy and willingness

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. – Psalm 51:12, NIV

Do you ever have one of those days or times in your life where you hear different things on peace and joy and fullness? You hear these things and you start to wonder what that is like? You think to yourself the last time you truly felt peace. When was that?

This has been on my mind recently. Different sermons and songs I listen to keep talking about peace and joy. They speak of such great and wondrous peace. They talk about a heart that is yearning to know some type of rest. All around me now seems like there are many things going on. The world and stresses and obligations of this world start to wear on me. My heart turns from being vertically minded and focused on God to being horizontally minded and things of this world.

It amazes me how fast the devil can cloud my peace. I can feel and see the storms and chaos but that inner delight, that joy, that fullness seems like it is nowhere to be found. While David wrote this Psalm during a difficult and convicting time in his life, I can relate to how he feels when struggling with the weight of sin and not being connected to the Source of life. But as with today, in the mundane tasks of life and just another day, I lose sight of the joy of salvation. I lose sight and forget about what abundant peace our Father in heaven gives. A gift that cost so much yet out of the fullness of His grace, He showered it and continues to shower it upon us.

All too often I think the joy of salvation should be something it isn’t. I probably feel like I should be on this spiritual nonstop high. And maybe that is it. But what is the joy of salvation to me? It is even on bad days, long days, boring days being so delighted in God. Being so delighted that it overflows to the various parts of your life. Remembering the truths that God has told us in His divine Word. Remembering who God is. An awareness or an awake-ness of God begins to well up inside of me. A thirst to be connected to our heavenly Father. That even in the midst of a bad situation we can lift our eyes to heaven and faithfully say, “Your will be done.” Knowing that what God has planned, is beyond our imagination, beyond all knowledge and is right because He is sovereign. A joy so strong that we can honestly look upon Him and remind ourselves and say “I need God more than the next breath, heartbeat. I need you God more than anything. More than words can say.”

The thing with joy is it’s when we can give God praise in good times and bad times, in happy times and sad times, in abundant times and meager times. When we simply kneel in awe of the only awe-inspiring thing. That joy of salvation could even lead us to tears when we simply think about what He did in Jesus. We can’t believe that something or someone would do that for us. That in times of depression and loneliness, there is someone who wants to spend time with us, know us and loves us. That through the struggle and scars of not having a father, we have a heavenly Father who made us His children. He tells us to unpack our bags and gives us refrigerator rights for the greatest fruits imaginable in joy or peace or love or faith or grace or any quality of our great and mighty God.

One of my favorite parts of this verse though is David realizing that not only does he need the joy of salvation again after feeling so low for what he did, but asking God to give him a spirit of obedience. A spirit of saying yes to God no matter what it may mean because he knows that the only thing that will sustain him is not of this world, but the Creator of this world and all things. David knows that the only way he can keep going is by being connected to God. Connected to the Sustainer and Giver of life. David knows he needs to eat but the only thing that will satisfy him is to feast on God and His great love. He knows that nothing compares to God or knowing Him. He tasted and saw the goodness of God and wants to taste that goodness again (Psalm 34:8).

For me personally, I know that in those brief moments that I have an attitude of yes toward God that there comes one of the sweetest gifts with that. It is the gift of joy. When I actually obey God and do His Will that is one of the greatest and best gifts I could ever have. It is beyond compare. To simply say yes to God fills me with such sweet joy that I just want more of it. My desire is there, but so often my spirit isn’t. That is why I need to ask this daily, even hourly. I need a willing spirit, because God is my life and only He will sustain me. Not food or money or fame or relationships or success, but the simple joy of obedience. “I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8, NIV)”

Today, I ask God for a willing spirit to sustain us. To restore the joy of salvation and be reminded of what He has done for us, who He made us and how great and awesome is our Great God. The God of peace, rest and everlasting joy. I pray that we will confess we haven’t always had joy in prayer or reading God’s Word or our relationship. We confess that, but ask God to help us and may we receive his joy.

A prayer in chains

Ephesians 6:20 – for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should

As we finish this section in Ephesians 6, Paul does two things in this short verse: (1) He reminds us that he was in chains for proclaiming the Gospel and (2) reiterates that he may declare it fearlessly as was done in the previous verse.

First, Paul is such an amazing example for all of us. He was not scared and was never ashamed of his faith. Even if it meant losing everything, he would keep on preaching it. Paul didn’t care about his comfort. He followed the same path as Christ. They never worried about their comfort. In fact, they lived very uncomfortable lives. The life of Christ is such a reminder that we never need to seek the comforts of this world. We never need to seek things in this world that will only fail us and let us down.

As Paul points out that he is in chains for his faith, he reminds us that this life and the things of this world doesn’t matter in Philippians 3:8 (NIV), “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” The surpassing worth of knowing Christ. WOW, that is powerful! As Paul wrote this from a prison in Rome, he asked in verse 19 and the continuation into this verse that as he was in chains, he wanted to make the most of the opportunities to fearlessly and boldly tell the Gospel to those around him.

He knew that God had him there for a reason. He knew that this was a beautiful opportunity to tell the guards and other prisoners of the hope of Christ. That even though they were physically in chains, they could have spiritual freedom. He felt that freedom and wanted to share that with others. The same freedom that brought him to that cell. I love that no matter what was happening in life to Paul, he was so filled with God’s love and it overflowed in him that he wanted to share it with all. Nothing else mattered. He took God’s charge seriously. And so should we.

I struggle greatly with thoughts of “Why am I here? In this place, what is my purpose?” I struggle with how to make a difference in a corporate environment when I have this inner thing inside of me reminding me I wasn’t made for this. But, this is where God has me for now and I must and want to honor that.

I think about Joseph and all those years that passed between the time he was thrown in the pit and the time he came to be Pharaoh’s right hand man that led to seeing his family again and the eventual protection of God’s children. I think of the time that passed between when God told Abraham he was going to have a child to actually having Isaac.

God has this great and masterful plan that is beyond our comprehension and there is this big story going on up there. This upper story is happening but it is one we can’t see because we get stuck in the lower story. We get lost in the trees and can’t see we are in a forest. The lower story is what is in front of us now and what we can see. The upper story is essentially the 50,000 foot view. It sees a whole range of things happening.

The point is that as God has us in our different places for a reason. He is working in us. It may be to get us back on track because we made a wrong decision. Or out of no fault of our own, to grow and be used for some purpose in the future like Joseph. Just like Paul who was in chains used this time to write inspired letters and help those without hope come to know what hope is. Through Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, he was able to reach a whole new set of people. But it had to come on God’s terms, not his.

Secondly, as we discussed in the last post, Paul mentions once again to declare the Gospel fearlessly. What I love is at the end he throws in “as I should” reminding us that we should all do that. We get so caught up in what people think and what will happen if we even mention the name Jesus, yet Paul tells us so simply it is what we should do. We should tell people of the wonderful hope that God offers. We should show those around the peace of God even in such troubling and hurtful times. Fearlessly cling to God asking Him for help and wisdom to handle the toughest parts of life. Asking God to help us and strengthen us even when life seems so good.

This verse while short is powerful. We may be persecuted. We may get thrown in prison. People will leave us and fail us. We will experience pain. But we have a task. A task to glorify God not because He needs us. Not for our glory or to earn our salvation. But out of being a benefactor of the Great Giver and being so satisfied in Him that we delight to do His will and are so overjoyed with Him that the joy and love that overflows in us reaches out to meet the needs of those around us. God is good. We should adore Him. What a great and amazing joy it is to be called a co-heir with Christ.

I am left with the great old hymn “It is well with my soul”.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul, It is well, with my soul,It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,Let this blessed assurance control,That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well, with my soul,It is well, with my soul,It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,It is well, with my soul,It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,It is well, with my soul,It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Ready your feet

Ephesians 6:15 – and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

I have thought about this verse and what to write. So I commit this to the Lord and hope that it is His words written so that He is exalted. As I think about this verse, it comes on a day when I have no strength and am extremely tired. A long week with another busy week ahead. But what I am reminded of in this section of Scripture is that I can be tired all I want. I can have no energy and no strength, but the attacks and the battle does not stop. In fact, it seems the battle gets worse. As we have talked before, the hardest days for me are when I am being led by things that shouldn’t lead me, like hunger, illness or tiredness. Without God, I am nothing.

I get stuck on my dependence on self that I forget to do what I need to do and am supposed to do by depending on the Spirit. The only way that I can please God and do His Will is by the Spirit, His Spirit. So once again, God has to poke me to get me back on track and keep seeking Him. I need to keep wearing the armor He has given us and never start trying to do it on my own. The way that God will be exalted in my life is by relying on Him that way He gets the glory. If I try on my own to please and exalt Him, I will fail. I will fail miserably. But if I depend on Him to do His will and be ready for whatever His will calls for me, then He gets the glory. He gets the honor because it was all Him.

As we look at this verse, I want to share the KJV with you since it offers a different word:

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (italics mine)

Preparation. The act of making ready or being made ready for use. As I think about that, I really like that translation. It makes me think that we always need to be ready. We always need to be ready for whatever God has next. Whatever He wills for us, we need to be ready or prepared for. That may be something pleasant or…not pleasant at all. It may be the birth of a child. Or the loss of a child. It may be the sweet joy of beautiful new relationship. Or the hurt and deep pain of a broken heart. Whether it is joy or sadness, God is not waiting for the right time when we say we are ready. There will never be a perfect time or a favorable period in our life. We need to be ready now.

David and Moses both ask God to teach them to number their days since it is like a fleeting breath. We don’t know when the last one we take will be. At the same time, we don’t know what God has in store for us next. We don’t know the battles and struggles that lie ahead. So as we take this moment, are you ready? Am I ready?

I have found that all too often in my life I am not. Through the struggles come some of the most intimate and amazing times of growth with God in my life, but they have so much pain and hurt sprinkled in. Loss of loved ones, broken hearts, illness and pain that seemed like it was never going to end, yet God uses these times to refine us and purify us. He makes us ready and prepared. Sometimes we go with Him. Other times we refuse to let Him teach us. We don’t want to be taught. We want to stay in our pit of depression.

God may well have some type of loss ahead of you or a move to a new place. There may be trials and struggles. There may be some amazing happiness. What is He preparing you for? What do you need to be ready for? Do not be afraid to ask. Ask Him to lead you, to prepare you for service. For the future. For whatever he has next. Are you ready? I know I could use some work. Are you ready for what the enemy will throw at you next? God will help us. He will prepare us if we let Him. And if we seek after Him. We need to be ready. We need to be ready for the battle. In Jeremiah 29, it is written, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Seek after God.

And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace. (The Amplified Bible)

But this verse doesn’t leave us with just preparation, but with a great reminder. And a beautifully vivid imagery of a great battle going on around us yet we have an inward peace. Chaos on the outside, yet tranquility inside. While the battle wages on, God gives us the beautiful opportunity to find rest and stability on His solid Rock. God promises us to give us our daily bread and He does. Without even asking, He gives us what we need every day to succeed. In the times of trial and great struggle, there is a way to find peace and hope. One way is turn to what God has told us in Scripture. To look upon His promises and see the hope that we have in Him. As we read, we find people who have gone through our struggles. We see how God works all things out for the good of those that love Him. God has a great and mighty plan. Do not fret. Do not be anxious but come to God. Come to Him in prayer and seek after Him in His beautiful Word. Listen to what He is telling you. Listen to the promise that even though you may feel desperate and alone, you are valuable to Him. So valuable in fact He sacrificed His Son and you who believe now are a child of God.

While the storms come, the Gospel stands firm. Hide it in your heart that in times of trial, in times of persecution, in times of temptation, in times of great blessings you will know Who is in charge and those words will come to life in you.

God’s will, not mine

​As I was driving home yesterday, I was doing my usual routine of listening to a Christian radio station. I like listening to Christian music to sow good seeds into my mind and also use it as a time to worship. A time to just be alone with God. I enjoy this time greatly and sometimes due to traffic I get to listen to more than normal (those days are days of trials of my patience). Before I started on my journey, I just asked God to come and be with me and talk to me. As I still struggle with news and what will happen to a special person in my life, I just need to be with God. I needed to hear Him. As my heart hurt, I needed some hope to hold onto. God did not disappoint.
The first song I heard was a strong reminder of who He is and what is possible with Him. It was another reminder of His faithfulness and it made me honestly want to shout at the top of my lungs kneeling before Him the words. The song was “Our God” by Chris Tomlin. I love this song. It is such an amazing reminder of what God promises us and can and will do for us.
Then, the exact thing I needed at that time came. The radio station (K-Love) has started airing deviotionals by Mike Donehey of Tenth Avenue North. I have kind of breezed past them before but this day I listened. The devotional was about Jesus in the garden crying blood tears asking that this cup be taken from Him. As He cried out to God and was full of anguish, He leaves us with the perfect example simply saying, “not my will but your will be done.”
God’s will be done… those words shook through me like an earthquake. How quickly I was reminded that as much as I want healing, as much as I want my way and my will to be done, it comes back to one whose ways are perfect. Only God knows the right way. Only God knows what is best. As I was reminded of Jesus’ own anguish, He still prays for God’s will knowing full well what it meant and what was about to happen. He leaves us with another example of how we should pray and live.
At the same time, He gives us another view into how He knows how we feel. He knows the hurt and pain and sorrow we feel. He knows it intimately. He knows it better than we could ever imagine because He is God and He is man.
When I think about it, I still can’t believe the gift of His love and that He would do all of that for us. I can’t believe the pain and hurt He went through.
But on this day, what I needed to hear was to stop telling God what my will is and trying to control Him instead of letting Him be God. He is the only one that knows best. His ways are good and perfect and greater than mine, my plans are imperfect and do not see what God can see.
God gave me the comfort and teaching I needed. I needed to be reminded that in the grip of pain and facing death, Jesus still asked for God’s will. In my life, in the grip of sorrow and whatever else these bodies face in this world, I need to act and respond like that. God is good and His will is perfect. He still lets me pray for the things I want, He still lets me tell Him what I think I need, but He always knows best. That is what I need to remember. No matter how many times I pray, I want to pray like Christ and humble myself before the will of God.

Focus on the hope of heaven

I write this on a day of fasting. Over the past few weeks something has happened to someone who is very special to me. Someone who loves me and has always showed me love. Someone who has had a tough year with different types of pain. While my wife was sick and we were trying to figure out what was wrong with her, at the same time I was dealing with the pain of possibly losing this special someone. By a complete miracle, my wife’s disease was treatable and this special someone survived. The peace during those days was quite amazing as I held to those truths.
A few months later, this special someone got really sick again and was in a lot of pain. To see a loved one in pain always hurts. You wish you could do something, just something to take their pain away. Yet, we cannot. By the complete act of God’s gracious healing hand, they were healed and given life.
A couple of weeks ago I received a call from my parents asking for prayer for this special someone. For some reason, the moment I heard I needed to pray for them again, my heart sank. My first emotion was sadness but it quickly went to “why? not again. How can this keep happening?” It was one I am not proud of. One that I immediately caught myself saying and knew it was wrong yet I couldn’t stop myself. I kept going down that hole. I continued down the hole of self-pity and just started crying. After a few moments, I stopped. I stopped myself from going any further. Can I say that I did this? no, it wasn’t me. In the end, I could hear this voice in me telling me how wrong I am acting. I could hear those thoughts of not having the right attitude.
But to step back, why is that generally our first reaction? You know, those “Why now?” or “Why me?” or even “When will it all stop?” I hate it when you catch yourself being unfaithful like that. I don’t want to think things like that or go down that path. I don’t want to get caught up in the here and now and take my eyes off of heaven.
So why is that what I turn to first? Honestly I don’t know. I have read books on why we do it and how to combat it, yet I keep doing it. I keep falling into those traps of feeling sad or mad. When you love someone so much and see them hurting so much time and time again, our human nature that is full of sin gets in the way. Our mind gets full of doubt and hurt and starts clouding our mind. It starts planting seeds that eat away at us and quickly grow from a seed into a tree. We start focusing on our pain, on our hurt, we become us centered. Although it can be good to embrace the pain, as long as it leads us to longing for the garden, to long for the heaven and what awaits us there.
After a few moments, probably longer than they ever should have been, I was reminded of what God has done before. I was reminded that God is good no matter what, even in the pain. I was reminded to simply trust in God and His ways. After a temper tantrum and pounding my fist on the bed, I went to where I needed to go. I went to throne room in prayer. I went before the King that an unworthy man like me should never be allowed to even catch a glimpse of, but oh by the grace of our Lord Jesus, I can enter and speak to God. Oh for that grace, what an amazing thing grace is. The grace God has showed me even when I doubt and question His will.
As I spoke to my Father in heaven (I probably spoke too much and didn’t listen enough), the peace of God came. He allowed me to still hurt. To still have the pain but reminded me to keep trusting Him with it. That is hard though, is it not?
Sometimes our life gets off focus. We will pray for people that are hurting or loved but we might forget for a bit because this world intereferes. One thing leads to another and next thing we know, we haven’t prayed for them like we should. We start focusing on other things. Things in the here and now. Life gets in the way, responsibilities come, decisions need to be made. Next thing we know, it has been a few days and that special someone is still struggling and hurting. They aren’t hurting because we forgot, but for reasons beyond our understanding of the will of God.
But, that is what happens with our focus with God. At least mine. I do a good job of turning to Him when I really need Him. And keep turning more and more and more. But then somehow, satan likes to stick his nose in the mix and take our attention off of God and onto things of this world. Things that don’t matter. Things that are small.
My prayer for you and for me is that our focus will always be on the hope of heaven. That our eyes will be on Christ. While satan tries to take us away, especially tries to interrupt our direct communication to God by prayer, that we overcome. That we stay focused on the things that are eternal. On the things that matter. This world is filled with hurt and pain, but with God and the amazing grace of God, there is hope. May we cling to truth and remember God’s faithfulness.