Is there any “good” apart from what God works?
If something is true, if something is to endure, if something has life in it, if something bears God’s purpose forward to fulfill the destiny He has intended …. it will have begun in God… and it will have been worked out by Him. If God is GOD (and He is) then every “good” has its reference in HIM. And nothing of real value will come-to-be except by His working.
For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure… Philippians 2:13
“God cannot part with His grace, or goodness, or strength, as an external thing that He gives us, as He gives the raindrops from heaven. No; He can only give it, and we can only enjoy it, as He works it Himself directly and unceasingly. And the only reason that He does not work more effectively and continuously is, that we do not let Him. We hinder Him either by our indifference or by our self-effort, so that He cannot do what He would….” Andrew Murray
Waiting on God, Day 2
“Our heart is the scene of a divine operation … We can do as little towards the work as towards creating the world, except as God works in us to will and to do.”
Waiting on God, Day 2
The phenomenon of God working in us is what enables us to fellowship with Him. It is how we know Him. When He is working, we look into ourselves and find Him. His working gives us eyes to recognize His hand ordering circumstances. He causes everything to work for good for those who love Him. It is His working that quickens our spirit, drawing us to Him. Even our faith begins in Him and is perfected by His working.
So what is the travesty?
Before I had any idea what this message was going to be, I saw the title written boldly in my mind… Travesty. But the lesson centered on the phenomenon of God working in us, clearly not fitting the title. So, I scrapped “Travesty”, pasting it into a file for later use, retitling this message “God Working In Us.” Wham, Travesty roared boldly back into my mind, refusing to be sidelined… accompanied by a feeling of grief, as if I was somehow missing the mark. I recognized God working in me and retitled what I had written, “Travesty.”
“OK, Lord, I’m going to wait on you, just like you are teaching me… I’m going to wait until you work in me, what you want me to see…. ”
I looked up the definition:
Travesty: a debased, distorted, or grossly inferior imitation
Instantaneously I saw how anything but God working in us would be a travesty: a debased, distorted, grossly inferior imitation of what He would accomplish. But aren’t we constantly allowing things other than God to work in us? fear, jealousy, inferiority, anger, retaliation, getting justice, taking things into our own hands, control….
A story from The Old Testament slipped in… causing me to recall God’s sorrow when Israel asked for a king. She wanted a king like all the nations around her. But God was her King. Yet, God condescended to give Israel what she wanted, even though He warned her that she would suffer untold loss. And God sent Samuel to anoint the strong, tall, handsome Saul to serve as Israel’s first king. He looked just like what a king should be.
God was initially working in Saul, and he seemed to be the answer, but he would prove to be a grossly inferior imitation of what was meant-to-be … The prophet, Samuel, directed the new king:
you shall go down before me to Gilgal; and behold, I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. You shall wait seven days until I come to you and show you what you should do.” I Samuel 10:8
Now, the Philistines were massing in full power and battle array to fight Israel. And Saul’s men were losing heart, running away. Saul waited, and his men with him, trembling.
When the 7thday finally came, Saul’s soul was greatly tried. The battle threatened. And Samuel had not shown up. His men were faltering, and Saul’s patience wore thin. Other voices began to have their way. Saul was a religious man: he believed all the right things. But he was not a spiritual man: recognizing and responding to God’s working in him. The more the pressure mounted, the less Saul was able to open himself to God’s working. Rather than waiting upon God, Saul took matters into his own hands.
9So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him.11But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling …12therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.”
(A therapist would have a heyday with this!)
13Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14“But now your kingdom shall not endure…. because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”
I Samuel 13:9-14
There is a lot to grieve here… and the prophet, Samuel, did. There is the travesty of choosing something or someone to be king, instead of The One Who is our King. There is the travesty of allowing something to work in us, that is not of God. And there is the travesty of something that might have been (the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever) that does not come-to-be (But now your kingdom shall not endure.) Saul’s life became a travesty of what might-have-been, because he did not allow God to work what was necessary in him for it to come-to-be.
This principle is chilling, if we blithely misunderstand God’s sovereignty. God’s best intention for Saul was what might-have-been… He would have established Saul’s kingdom forever. What we learn here is that it’s not what God’s best intention for us is, that is guaranteed to come-to-be… but how God’s best intention for us will come-to-be.
“What He asks of us, in the way of surrender, and obedience, and desire, and trust, is all comprised in this one word: waiting on Him…”
Day 2, Waiting on God