The actuality of God’s independent splendor shines with or without our acknowledgement. His capacity to fulfill all that He wants to be and do for us remains an eternal verity, untouched by our oblivion of it. The quiet thunder of His voice sounds, even if we do not hear it. His goodness is not dimmed by our failure to see it.
Oblivion keeps us from realizing all these things, rendering them as if they do not exist. But even this darkness is ripe with the potential of its overthrow . . . when God’s word comes into our darkness to bring what is hidden to light, in-breathing what is not yet real to us with the brightness of possibility. . . to bring us out of our oblivion into actuality.
Every bright potential for our good originates
in the actuality of God’s love for us.
But He has made collaboration the way out of our oblivion into the realization of all that He wants to do and be for us.
Every promise, every word God sends is an amazing supernatural feat — a flare shot into the darkness of our oblivion, exploding as temporary light over our heads to reveal the contours of our situation — bringing us knowledge of the actuality awaiting its realization in us.
But our oblivion can keep that realization from materializing in us.
Jesus lamented, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. (Matt 23:37-38, NASU)
What had He longed to accomplish over the centuries? What actuality had He wanted to bring out of the power of their oblivion to be realized in them? He wanted them to realize the actuality of His protective love for them.
But did they? Did His desire for them to come under the protection of His wings materialize? No. And to make matters worse, Jesus could see the imminent future of the Roman legions coming; He saw the destruction, chaos, and suffering Titus was going to bring. The Greek words describing His weeping over Jerusalem tell of grief contorting his heart in agony.
God was more than willing, and He is always able. But something hindered the actuality of God’s protection from being realized by them. What was it? . . . They were unwilling.
I am only beginning to understand this — but the power of our oblivion can only be broken over us as we become willing.
* * *
This section of The Divine Dialogue addresses the staggering reality that we can hinder what God wants to do and be in our life. What if God has chosen our willing collaboration with Him — rather than just His will alone — as the way out of our oblivion into the realization of all that He makes possible? What if He has made relationship the means by which every God-breathed possibility becomes one with actuality?
If God is after real relationship arising out of vital collaboration with us — above everything else, even the avoidance of human and divine agony — this would explain the pain and suffering we continue to endure.
What if what God wants most can only become real, as we are willing?
* * *
Scripture describes a cosmic, StarWars-like rebellion that took place in ages past before the appearance of man. Hostility to Who God is and what He wants-to-be in relationship with His creation contorted the universe — bringing separation (for the first time) between the creature’s experience and actuality. A barrier sprang into being, defining the difference between possibility and actuality . . . which were no longer one, as they had always been before.
This is the genesis of our oblivion, and the reason He must send His word to find us to bring us from where we are to where we are meant-to-be. When His word comes, it brings us good news regarding the actuality of something He wants to do and be for us, surfacing the potential, infusing it with possibility. But our relationship (belief, disbelief, unbelief) with that word will determine if it will materialize — if it will germinate in the soil of our soul to become the energy that brings us out of our oblivion into the realization awaiting us.
Yahweh met Moses in the wilderness, speaking to him from a burning bush, sending him as a messenger of good news to Israel with this word, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey. . .” (Exodus 3:7,8; NASU)
His word came to a nation in bondage, telling them that He not only intended to bring them out of Egypt, but He would also bring them into The Promised Land. He was willing and He was able, but with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, that entire generation died in the wilderness without ever experiencing the actuality of what was meant-to-be.
Their relationship with His word was disbelief and unbelief. They proved unwilling to collaborate with God over and over again. And despite all that He did and all the signs He sent, their low opinion of His motives kept them from trusting Him, from having any kind of real relationship with Him.
And so, even though God intended it for them, the potential of their receiving The Promised Land could not move from possibility into actuality, to be realized in their life experience.
A barrier defines the difference between possibility and actuality.
. . . “because of their unbelief they were not able to enter.” (Hebrews 3:19)
The gold line moving from right to left (from actuality into the darkness of our oblivion) illustrates the good news, the word of promise coming from God to Israel (in the darkness of her bondage of slavery.)
The right side of the barrier is actuality. The left side is where we live now — where our experience of God is separated from the actuality of His loving intent. We are entirely dependent upon the word He sends to bring the potential of knowing Him to light, infusing that potential with possibility as we begin to hear and understand the words He sends.
- The green arrow illustrates Israel’s disbelief of His word, aborting their potential breakthrough to where experience and actuality are one. Israel’s collaboration falls like an arrow short of its target.
- Unbelief is the distance between their downward turn and their breakthrough.
For any promise of God to materialize, for any longing of God’s heart to be realized in us — we have to believe.
- Belief is our breakthrough, our passage through the barrier, where our experience of God and actuality become one.
The barrier defining the difference between possibility and actuality ceases to exist when we Believe the words God sends.
* * *
God declares, “My word … which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Isa 55:11, NASU)
The Word He sent to Israel through Moses did not return to Him empty—for in Joshua and Caleb it accomplished His desire in the matter for which it was sent.
- In Joshua and Caleb God’s loving intention for their generation would materialize, being realized in them.
- In Joshua and Caleb God’s word would succeed in the matter for which it was sent, as they entered into The Promised Land.
The gold line represents Joshua’s and Caleb’s breakthrough into what was meant-to-be by faith, believing . . . that passage we call BELIEF.
What we need to understand is that God’s intention will absolutely be fulfilled in someone’s life.
The question is, “in whose?”
God’s plans and purposes are not thwarted — but our opportunity to participate in them, as individuals, is eliminated by unbelief.
* * *
“Now it’s time that my people know who I am, what I’m made of — yes, that I have something to say. Here I am!”
“I’ve made myself available to those who haven’t bothered to ask. I’m here, ready to be found by those who haven’t bothered to look. I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’ to a nation that ignored me. I reached out day after day to a people who turned their backs on me, People who make wrong turns, who insist on doing things their own way.
 Isa 52:6; 65:1-2 from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved