Few things bring humbler wonder, than to realize that God is piecing together a message for me . . . It is inconceivable that the God who created quasars and constellations should bend so low as to orchestrate circumstances to speak to us, but the evidence over time has proven to me that this is actually taking place.
Over the last week God has brought me picture after picture illustrating the same principle — how we come into the protective custody of His working power when we willingly submit to His authority. Something is afoot, a major shift, and it is imperative that we understand this principle.
Like a collage taking form before my eyes, He is communicating this message through the layering of “pictures” from mixed media.
This message began with my posting last week — where I shared how my Teacher was underscoring the necessity of bringing myself under authority — not just the authority of my husband, but the authority of the spiritual means God has placed before us all — to open the way for His answering power to flow.
I’ve seen what a maverick I’ve been, doing my own thing, accountable to no one, always out there listening to God on my own, doing what seems right to me. I saw myself like a broken-off piece of a larger body needing to be brought into cohesion with the whole. So, when the churches in our little community issued a united call to prayer for the next 40 days, I recognized that this was God at work through that authority, giving me the opportunity to submit. I’m not only praying, but I’ve been driving to my church’s sanctuary to pray — making a physical expression of my earnestness in submitting to that authority over me — confident that as I submit from below, power will be released from on High.
In my private reading this week, Scripture confirmed the same message — that by submission to authority from below, power flows from above.
And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. “For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment.
The Roman centurion understood the imperative of being in submission to a word of command. He so recognized the higher authority of the Jewish carpenter from Galilee, that he would not ask Jesus to come to him, but that Jesus would simply issue a word of command. As the centurion humbled himself, expressing his submission to that authority, divine power was released from above.
(It is instructive that Jesus drew a stark comparison between the Roman centurion and “the sons of the kingdom” — those who were well-schooled in Scripture and religion with the name of God on their lips, but unpracticed in the matter of honoring and submitting to valid authority.)
And then — the exact same message leapt off of the page of one of my devotionals! Explaining what it means to take Jesus’ yoke upon ourselves (Matthew 11: 28-29) the author wrote . . .“His yoke is not the thing, but an attitude of submission, with the resulting flow of power.” [i]
At church Sunday morning, pairs of chairs were set up side by side in front of the congregation in a long line to emulate a dragon-boat, with children filling those chairs, pretending to be paddlers. Our youth pastor commanded the kids to start paddling, and little arms began to flail in disarray. Stopping them for a moment, Randy described his dragon-boat race this summer, in which his team could not get any forward momentum until they learned to dig their paddles into the water — synchronized to a drumbeat. Then Randy took a drum, filling the sanctuary with a loud, slow rhythmic beat that gave me goose-bumps. He called out to the children, “Paddle!” We watched as little arms began to rise and fall in a (nearly) perfect, orchestrated sweep.
This was how his dragon-boat had swept ahead, harnessing the power that unity under authority released.
Riveted to my seat, I recognized yet another picture being orchestrated by God to communicate the same message to me.
Working in the kitchen late one night, I turned on the television to play in the background . . . settling on The Gladiator, which I’ve seen numerous times.
Suddenly, I felt compelled to stop and watch, as Russell Crowe (who portrays the Roman General, Maximus, betrayed and reduced to slavery, rising through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena) found himself among a small group of gladiators about to face a fight to the death. He passionately urged them to unity — telling them that no matter what was about to come out of those doors against them, their chance of survival was greater if they fought together, rather than alone. The other gladiators recognized not only his authority — but the authority of the principle, the authority of the call, the authority of the means given to them — and they submitted.
The doors of the arena opened, as heavily armed lethal chariots surged forward, driven by powerful steeds. The gladiators were clearly overmatched. But Maximus cried to his men over the roar of hooves and wheels, drawing his fellow fighters together in unity. As a chariot bore down on them, at his loud command, every strong arm rose in a perfectly orchestrated sweep — erecting a wall of shields. The horses veer wildly away, overturning the chariot, turning the tide of the battle, until the gladiators won.
I watched, riveted to the floor, remembering the children’s arms digging imaginary paddles into pretend water, as one, orchestrated by the beat of a drum.
How could I not see the message coming together . . as the same principle was being shown me yet another time . . . the power that comes when we are in submission to the authority that calls from above?
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God’s Messages Come to Us in Collage
Few things bring more wonder than to realize that God cares enough about me to piece together a message for me, orchestrating circumstances to spell it out.
I know absolutely what God is saying — not because of a single powerful impression — but by the layered repetition of the same message, coming over and over through multiple means. I know that I’m not making it up. I know that I’m not reading too much into a single circumstance. I understand what God is saying to me.
God communicates what is on His heart, by creating a personal collage just for us.
Have you ever made a collage for someone you loved, or received one? You create a collage by cutting out and pasting together select letters, words, phrases and pictures from multiple sources. But the wide variety of color, shapes, and media all serve to communicate one message . . . every picture illustrates one shared theme.
The more you study the collage, the clearer its message becomes. The underlying theme emerges, through all the pieces becoming a united whole. I read and study Scripture almost every single day, because of the unbelievable way God co-ordinates His underlying messages to me with the selections He gives me, piecing them together with my present circumstances, to present one message that is a united whole.
All of scripture is a collage, from a thousand sources, carrying at infinite levels one message . . . as well as every message we will ever need to hear.
A collage makes the most sense if it is current — because it fits with exactly what you are going through at the time. God’s collages are perfectly timed, anticipating what you will be experiencing and needing to know when you receive them. Its perfect timing often confirms that a given message is from God.
If a message comes, repeated from different sources, but I don’t see how it fits at the moment — almost always, circumstances change and then I realize how perfectly it was targeted.
God communicates to us through collage — layering His messages through orchestrated circumstances that help us realize — it really is from Him.
[i] October 1, Daily with the King, by Glynn Evans