Monday, December 5, 2011

In Search Of Truth, "Ultimate Surrender. Ultimate Peace"

By Guest Writer Nathan J. Norman

Have you ever flipped to the last page of a book, read it, then started from the beginning? Or watched the last chapter on a dvd, then watch it all the way through? That practice doesn’t appeal to me, and probably doesn’t appeal to most people. But to some it does. In fact I’ve known people who do this on a regular basis. They like to know the ending before they get invested into a story. And what about you? Would you like to know the end of your story? The wonderful thing about being a Christian is that you can know! Maybe not all the specifics, and not every minor detail . . . but if you’re a believer in Christ, we have the Word of God giving us a testimony that God wins, and we all get perfected bodies. In the end, God makes everything work out. So then, how should believers respond to God’s long-term plan?

Believers should respond to God’s long-term plan by praising God.

When you realize that God has an amazing and unfathomable future planned for Christ-followers, the natural response is to praise Him! In Habakkuk’s day, when God revealed to Him that both evil Judah and even more evil Babylon would one day be judged, Habakkuk responded in praise. Read Habakkuk 3:1-3:

3:1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. According to Shigionoth.
2 LORD, I have heard the report about You; LORD, I stand in awe of Your deeds. Revive Your work in these years; make it known in these years.
In Your wrath remember mercy!
3 God comes from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah
His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise.

Evil would not ultimately win the day. God revealed to Habakkuk that He Himself would come and bring justice to humanity once again. Let’s look at what Habakkuk saw, and why he decided to praise God. Read Habakkuk 3:4-13:

4 His brilliance is like light; rays are flashing from His hand.
This is where His power is hidden.
5 Plague goes before Him, and pestilence follows in His steps.
6 He stands and shakes the earth; He looks and startles the nations.
The age-old mountains break apart; the ancient hills sink down.
His pathways are ancient.
7 I see the tents of Cushan in distress; the tent curtains of the land of Midian tremble.
8 Are You angry at the rivers, LORD? Is Your wrath against the rivers?
Or is Your rage against the sea when You ride on Your horses, Your victorious chariot?
9 You took the sheath from Your bow;
the arrows are ready to be used with an oath. Selah
You split the earth with rivers.
10 The mountains see You and shudder; a downpour of water sweeps by.
The deep roars with its voice and lifts its waves high.
11 Sun and moon stand still in their lofty residence,
at the flash of Your flying arrows, at the brightness of Your shining spear.
12 You march across the earth with indignation; You trample down the nations in wrath.
13 You come out to save Your people, to save Your anointed.
You crush the leader of the house of the wicked and strip him from foot to neck. Selah

This is both terrifying and awesome. Who could ever stand up to this God? No evil or injustice stands a chance!!!! So in Habakkuk’s day, even though there was still evil all around him, He still praised God, because he knew what the end of the story was.

What does this praise look like?

It’s like when Hollywood turns a beloved story into a movie. The sixth Harry Potter movie (the half-blood prince) was terrible. The Super Mario Brothers movie was atrocious. So because of all these stinkers, when Hollywood takes a beloved story and actually gets it right . . . we praise them! When I saw the first Lord of the Rings, I was so scared they’d mess it up, but once seeing it I said things like “Peter Jackson’s awesome!” In the same way, when you know what God’s ultimate plan is, you can praise Him!

Or think about it like this . . . what’s the average weekly allowance these days? Let’s say it’s $20 a week. So let’s say ever since a young person was growing up, her parents would give her $20 a week, but as the parent handed it to her, they took $5 back. This goes on for years! Is the kid frustrated? You betcha! Finally after a long time this girl confronts her parent and says, “Why do you keep taking $5 from my allowance? And the parent reveals the plan to her and says when she turns 16, they will take the money she gave, add to it and buy her a brand new car! That’s an awesome plan! How does she respond? With ELATION!

In the same way, when you know what God’s plan for your life is, you praise Him because you know that even the terrible times you may be having right now, are nothing compared to the awesomeness awaiting you.

But you might say “God has never appeared to me, and given me a vision of my future!” No He hasn’t. He’s given you the complete story, though . . . and you can read about it whenever you want . . . and I think it’s better.

Having the Word of God available to you anytime versus having a vision is the difference between meeting a boy or a girl and them telling you that they love you, then moving away to a place where they can’t communicate with you ever again, and never meeting a person face to face, but being able to talk on the phone, facebook and text whenever you want . . . and realizing that one day you will be united. You just need to have the discipline to pick up the phone and call . . . or in this case, open your Bible and read about it!

Believers should respond to God’s long-term plan by praising God. And when you hear about God’s long-term plan, you don’t merely praise Him, but you do something else. You see…

Believers should also respond to God’s long-term plan by surrendering to Him. When you realize how huge God’s plans are and how powerful He is, you cannot help but give over to Him your whole self.

As Habakkuk continues to describe what he has seen, he ultimately realizes that He has to give himself completely over to God. Read Habakkuk 3:14-19:

14 You pierce his head with his own spears;
his warriors storm out to scatter us, gloating as if ready to secretly devour the weak.
15 You tread the sea with Your horses, stirring up the great waters.
16 I heard, and I trembled within; my lips quivered at the sound.
Rottenness entered my bones; I trembled where I stood.
Now I must quietly wait for the day of distress to come against the people invading us.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will triumph in Yahweh; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!
19 Yahweh my Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like those of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights!

Habakkuk knows that life will be difficult for him in the days to come, but he decides to trust God, and give Himself over to His plan . . . where-ever that might lead him.

This surrender takes a few forms. It’s like in the cancelled comic book Alius Rex. (Spoiler Alert) A mysterious new country is invading kingdom after kingdom. This one king, though, refuses to surrender and gathers his knights together. As he reaches the place of battle this huge alien ship comes over the hill and destroys his forces. He is so overwhelmed by the power of the enemy that he surrenders right there, knowing that if he resisted, it would lead to his own destruction. So he has to give in to the aliens, knowing that they can now do whatever they want.

It’s the same with us . . . only our God is benevolent and loves us, and when we see His absolute power and surrender to Him . . . it’s for our own good. Not harm.

Or think about it like this: When animals get scared, they will actually fight you when you’re trying to help them! A cat will claw you if you help it get down from the tree. A dog will bite a firefighter trying to pull it out of a flooded river. They do this because they do not understand the “big plan” and are trusting in their own power to deliver them! Flies (not technically animals) will drive you crazy if you try to help them. They fly into a window, over and over, so you open the window. Then they avoid the window. You shoo them to the window . . . because it’s the only way they can survive, but they don’t trust you so they back away. These creatures could only be saved if they could somehow think, “This being is smarter than me, and good, so I’m just going to let it do whatever it wants because I know that it has my best interest in mind.”

We need to do the same as we interact with God. We need to give ourselves over to Him . . . even when things are rough . . . trusting that He has a plan and purpose we cannot comprehend.

Some of you are feeling, “I’m afraid of what will happen !” You don’t want to live life according to God’s standards because you’re afraid that you might lose your friends, your reputation, and that life will only get harder. And if that’s you, and you don’t surrender your life to God, you will go through this life forever as the fly, bouncing off the window, trying to be free and never finding it. Unable to figure out life or your purpose in life because you don’t have the ability to do so apart from God.

You must trust Him! Believers should respond to God’s long-term plan by surrendering to Him.

So there you have it. You’ve flipped to the last page. You’ve watched the end of the movie first. You know how the story ends before it happens: God wins and His followers get eternal life in glorified, perfected bodies. So, believers should respond to God’s long-term plan by praising God and surrendering to Him. If you don’t do this, you will go through life bouncing off the windows and trying to find your direction . . . and will find nothing. But if you give yourself wholly over to God . . . then you can have peace even in the worst circumstances. Ultimate Surrender. Ultimate Peace.

Next- Paeter returns to "In Search Of Truth" with an invitation to "Enter The Story".

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