The prayer focus for this week was to expose where light and darkness were mingled in me in terms of not trusting the King to protect me from mean people.
You nailed it again.
The following conversation was a running dialog over several days, fairly convoluted as His and my conversations often are. I have neatened it up a lot to make it comprehensible so this is an overview, not a word for word transcription.
The King moved first, asking if I wanted to explore the issue of my not trusting Him with people. I said, “Sure,” even though I was quite sure I would end up as the bad guy.
He asked if I knew why I didn’t trust Him with people. I said, “Sure. Because you have stood by and done nothing on many occasions when people were hurting me. You did not protect me ahead of time, and You did not rescue me when I asked You to. That became a pattern that caused me to not trust You when I am around gnarly people.”
He said, “You are absolutely right. I have done that. Both of those things.”
There was silence for a day or so, then He asked, “Do you remember Viktor Frankl?”
I certainly do. He developed Logotherapy after surviving the concentration camp. I read about it at least 40 years ago and was fascinated by the concept. Here was a Jew in a place where there was absolutely nothing external to count on. He was as good as dead. There was no expectation of justice. Pain was everywhere. Yet he managed to keep from becoming animalistic in his drive to survive.
It was my first brush with the Holocaust and I was a bit overwhelmed. There was no place on my shelf for that package of life skills at that time, but I was in awe of the man and the concept and never forgot.
The King asked, “It wasn’t workable for you back then. You were too young and green. Yet you knew in your spirit it was very good but not quite there. How would His principles work now, with your frames of the soul and spirit, design and birthright?”
I didn’t know. It has been so long that I couldn’t really pull up a respectable data file. I ordered the book, but it hasn’t come yet. Obviously the answer is that it would work pretty well, but I need to see what “it” is and how it all fits together. Maybe next week.
Silence for a day. Then another one of those questions. “Arthur, do you remember the prohibitions I placed on Jeremiah and how it violated his design? What was that about?”
Of course I remember. He was an Exhorter who was not allowed to marry, go to a wedding, attend a party, or even enter a home for dinner if they were having a good time. No fun allowed. And I distinctly remember teaching on that in “A Hard Life” and saying clearly that I had no clue why God would deliberately violate someone’s design.
But I had a sinking feeling I was next in line.
He said, “Arthur, you have two facets of your design that are warring against each other. I would like You to trust Me as I kill one, in order to give you the other. You have a keen sense of justice. You are rigorous in your own walk, giving over-the-top justice repeatedly. And you wish the world would give it back to you. You really wish I would give you justice, particularly in relationships. But it doesn’t and I often don’t.
“The other side of your design is a deep, aching drive for significance. You loath even the smallest risk of uttering Solomon’s cry of ‘vanity’ at the end of your life. You don’t need fame. You don’t need to see the fruit of your labor in this generation. But you desperately want your life to ‘count for eternity’ to use your language.
“If I will guarantee that your life will be high impact in MY eyes (not necessarily yours, or the world’s), will you release ALL expectation of justice from Me or anyone else, for the rest of your life and trust Me to make your life significant while I deliberately take you through some injustice that will be transformational?”
He made it clear that I would not be plunged into a morass of no justice, but where there was injustice, I was to use my not-yet-acquired new set of tools, cobbled together from Frankl and my understanding of the human spirit.
No complaints to Him about abandoning me. No anger at the people who hurt me. No pursuit of justice socially (like whining on WordPress). No avoiding situations because I might experience injustice. Just process the pain with the new tools (which I don’t have yet) and get on with life.
I don’t ask God to make deals with me. And when He offers, I walk very slowly. I am quite sure I will not be able to keep from being angry at injustice. That will take some sort of amazing surgery to excise that portion of my software. Can I keep from whining about it when I do get hurt? Probably not completely. I can try to process it internally, but this too will be a learning curve.
Can I keep from crying out to Him for justice? The habit is so deeply engrained in me that I will probably slip there a few times too, needing the Holy Spirit to call me on it.
So all told, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And the King knew that when He put the offer on the table. I decided to go for it. He knows my heart is good. He knows I will make course corrections as swiftly as He calls me on my violations of the agreement. So yes, I can yield all right to have justice in exchange for a promise of a life that counts.
It is an odd feeling going forward. The sense of naked vulnerability is through the roof. While sitting in the portal at gate A8 in the newly redesigned terminal at DFW, I got my first assignment of the new season where justice is now irrelevant in my life. I am to assemble a group of people and do thus and so. It is a very high risk project. My knee jerk reaction was, “I wonder who the Judas in the group will be.”
Not an auspicious start. The flesh is a pain in the flesh sometimes. This no-expectation-of- justice thing is going to be the most serious software update I have ever experienced.
At the same time, there is a settled peace I have never had before from the assurance that my life will count. I have a profound respect for my capacity to mess things up. I watch so many spiritual leaders who get stopped at the two yard line or who fumble at midfield and lose much. I so don’t want to be someone who started well and ended stupidly.
And now I have a promise that He will protect me from myself. Staggeringly profound.
Oh, and the new project He described could be stupendously significant. It will take several months to launch, but it might be the first expression of a new season in my life.
Thanks for praying. I am stunned at the enormity of what God did. I just wanted darkness out of me. I never expected God to show up and offer me an over the top covenant like He did Jacob at Bethel.
Copyright July 2014 by Arthur Burk
From the Hub