Psalm 37:5-6 NIV “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”
I have pondered this verse and this blessing extensively because going public with this one is quite against my normal way of doing things.
In a word, the verse talks about God vindicating us. I grew up in a context of not seeking vindication. If you are new to our circles, here is a blog I wrote about my father, which explains a few of his (and my) values.
The mantra was simple. “Let history be your judge.”
That has been my approach to most things in the last 20 years of the company’s history. Accusations have been a dime a dozen, many have caused great damage to the company, and many, of course, have caused me deep pain, especially when they come from people I have walked with closely who have subsequently turned against me.
In almost every case, I have simply walked away, letting them think and say what they wish, and I carried on with whoever was still open to what I taught. It has been a consciously thought out choice. A lifestyle.
However, niggling in the back of my mind was the knowledge that Nehemiah cried out to God for vindication, and God promised it to the church at Philadelphia, and in Christ’s High Priestly prayer, He asked Father for vindication.
I choose to ignore those and carry on, simply walking away from people who fussed at me.
Yesterday a strange thing happened that bumped my lifestyle with God’s intervention.
There is a house I have access to on a Mercy piece of land. I come here once in a while to write or think. I am permitted to play in the dirt while I am here and I do. The fruit of my blessing the land and working on it with my hands over the few years I have been visiting here has been fun to see.
Thursday was a gorgeous spring day. Writing came slowly, but eventually it came and I finished the daily quota. I had a few errands I needed to run which then put me at 2:00 p.m.
I was really conflicted. A friend of mine was having an open house for a new business, and I received a token invitation. He never imagined I would come from California. But as it turns out, it was just a few hours drive from my hideout.
Should I go? I knew he would love to see me. I didn’t see anything in it for me. It would be one of those sacrificial gifts I would give someone who is taking a humongous risk to step into their birthright.
I really didn’t want to go. I wanted in the worst way to play in the dirt. There was a new planter just caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalling my name in the most compelling, piteous way.
I went back and forth. My friend would never know that I chose not to go. He never expected me. It would be hours and hours of driving, and it would cut into my sleep and preparation for Friday’s writing. I would not have any meaningful time with him since he would be mobbed with people. Did I really want to give a gift that expensive, that was not culturally required, and he would never miss?
I decided I most emphatically did not want to give that gift. I was going to stay home, play in the dirt and refresh my soul instead of depleting it.
As soon as I made the decision, I knew my spirit was in revolt. All the data my soul had used so convincingly, just bounced with my spirit. So I un-made my decision, changed clothes, said a temporary good-bye to my grief stricken planters, and started the long trek.
I hoped that there would be something in it for me. Maybe some revelation on the drive or a divine appointment with someone in the crowd – in spite of the fact that I don’t have the software to mingle with strangers in a crowd.
I pinged my spirit and it knew nothing, except that I was “supposed” to go. So I went.
My friend was surprised, delighted and gone. Everyone wanted a piece of his time. I managed eight minutes or so at the end of an hour. Pretty much what I expected.
So I wandered around the building, looked at what there was to see, nibbled some gastronomic delights, then settled down in the quietest side room I could find to watch a video display I was relatively disinterested in, because it would not be socially proper to leave after a mere ten minutes, even though I was QUITE done.
Then it happened.
A lovely lady stuck her head into my hideaway quite apologetically and asked if she could chat. She had just found out I was here and was over the top excited. She never expected to see me live, in person. She spent time telling me about how she heard about me, all the changes in her life, her boyfriend’s life and friends she had shared our principles with.
Then she left and came back with a friend and a camera and she wanted pictures. Then she wanted a picture on her cell phone to send to her boyfriend because he just wouldn’t believe she had met THE Arthur Burk.
And then she rushed off to find every single other person on the staff or among the guests who had ever been mugged by their best friend with a CD or DVD of mine that they just HAD to listen to.
I was quite robustly celebrated, detracting a lot of attention from the event itself. Pictures followed pictures. I was comforted that my buddy is absolutely, utterly, completely incapable of running jealousy software, otherwise my crashing his party with my unexpected and unintentional fame could have caused some problems.
Eventually, I made my escape and on the way home, Father said to me, “You may not need vindication, but the ministry is suffering because of the attacks. I brought you here because I needed the spiritual authority in the heavenlies of people celebrating the power of the principles you teach.”
That was sobering. Whatever I am willing to absorb for myself, I apparently need to take a little different posture when the company that the Lord cares about is under assault.
And it is.
In the last couple of weeks, someone who I have walked with for over a decade has been turned against me. This international ministry has now taken the position that it is impossible to separate the spirit and the soul, and they have “proof” that when we call the spirit to the front, it is actually a demon that responds, and we are doing immense damage to people. All changes produced by the fictitious human spirit fade quickly and the person is worse off for the experience.
For the record, neither the ministry leader who is making the accusation, nor the person who did the “proof” have listened to my teaching on the human spirit.
And for the record, I am completely not under conviction that all of the transformed lives around the world are the result of demons impersonating the human spirit.
Nonetheless, the accusation is strong, loud and hurtful – especially when I consider the source!
In fact, I wrote back to the chairman of the board and told him I disagreed with their conclusion, but I was not going to fight to defend myself, and if they wanted to brand me a heretic, they could. I would keep on moving the ball. It is what I do.
But God made it plain that it is not His will for this accusation to be destructive.
Therefore, as uncomfortable as it is for me as a person, as the CEO of Sapphire Leadership Group, Inc., I am coming to you and inviting you to pray this verse back to Father asking for vindication not just regarding this new assault, but regarding the whole history of slander over the last two decades.
As I dug into the verse, I was intrigued at the paradox. The term “commit” points to trusting God with my reputation, rather than protecting it myself. Yet when I do, He delights in vindicating it.
I was so close, but so far. Rather than committing my reputation to Him, I simply walked away from it as though it had little value. I have been hated so long, by so many, it seems normative. The only question is who will be throwing stones at me this week?
But God didn’t tell us to accept slander. We are not to fight for our reputation with carnal tools, but we are to give it to Him and invite Him to fight for it. That is a huge difference from what I had done.
And the degree of His vindication is quite remarkable.
“He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”
So that is our prayer for this week. If you wish to join, I invite you to ask Father to vindicate my righteousness and the justice of my cause.
The noonday sun is to me a picture of visibility. Typically when a newspaper apologizes for a front page error, they bury the apology at the bottom of page 19! When God vindicates us, it includes our being seen wherever He wants us to be seen.
“Father, I ask Your forgiveness for treating my reputation as being of no value. I have retrieved it from the scrap heap and am now offering it to You for Your safekeeping. I will continue to not defend myself, but I invite You to vindicate both my righteousness and the justice of my cause on a global basis, wherever there is sunrise and noonday.
“I leave in Your hands all details of when and where and how. Do it according to Your will, Father.”
Copyright April 2014 by Arthur Burk
From my Mercy retreat
Where I am sore from head to toe from playing in the dirt today, instead of writing