By the help of your God, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God. (Hosea 12:6)
To those who are content with a feeble Christian life, continual waiting on God appears to be a luxury beyond what is essential to be a good Christian. But all who are praying the prayer, “Lord, make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be made! Keep me as bear to you as it is possible for me to be! Fill me as full of your love as You are willing to do!”- all such believers feel at once this is something that must be had. They feel there can unbroken fellowship with God, no full abiding in Christ, no maintaining of victory over sin and readiness for service, without waiting continually on the Lord.
Many think that with the duties of life, such continual waiting is out of the question. They cannot always be thinking of it. Even when they wish to, they forget.
They do not understand that this is a matter of the heart, and that what the heart is full of, occupies it- even when the thoughts are otherwise engaged. A father’s heart may be continuously filled with intense love and longing for a sick wife or a child at a distance, even though pressing business requires all his thoughts. When the heart has learned how powerless it is, even for one moment, to keep itself or bring forth any good, when it has learned how surely and truly God will keep it- when in despair of self it has accepted God’s promise to do for it the impossible- it learns to rest in God. In the midst of occupations and temptations, it can wait continually.
What God expects of me- what is well-pleasing in His sight- is what God want me to be, and waits to make me. Let it be said also what I want to be, and wait for Him to make me, every moment.
One day as Jesus was walking by the seaside, He saw two fishermen, Peter and Andrew. He called them to come and follow Him. In that call He says, “Come follow Me and I will make you….” The phrase, “I will make you,” is critical for us to see. Many Christians have given themselves the impossible assignment of living in such a way as to continuously please God. They make rules and restrictions and the like and to some degree outwardly model the Christ life. Edgar Allen Poe in one of his stories uses the phrase, “the tell, tell heart.” In his story, the murderer has covered up the body and has for all purposes hidden all the evidence but he hears this heartbeat- its actually his own- which he thinks is the still beating heart of his victim. This is us. We may be able to dress up and show up at church and for all outward appearances appear to be righteous. We may say the right words, perform the right rituals and do the right things but our tell-tell hearts beat loudly and say that at best our righteousness is nothing more than filthy rags. Oh the foolishness of trying to make ourselves acceptable to God. We read of those in the Old Testament who through continuous sacrifices and rule keeping attempted to do so and we find they always seemed to come up short. We find others in the Old Testament whose heart was given fully to the Lord and even in their colossal failures, the redemptive power of God restored them into relationship with Him. Consider David, for example. There may be no other who had the heights or the depths that David had in his life. You can see that in his psalms. There are those moments such as the shepherd boy on the hills who wrote such words as we find in Psalm 8: “When I see the heavens…what is man that You are mindful of him….”; or Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Think about the conquest of Goliath and his crowing as king over Israel. What great heights these were. Remember his ecstatic entry into Jerusalem bring home the Ark. Then there are the depths: pursued by King Saul, the death of his friend Jonathan, his sin with Bathsheba and the execution of her husband, Absalom, his son rising to overthrow the throne and then Absalom’s death. Yet God speaks these words about David;
“And when He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king: of him He testified and said, ‘ I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart [conforming to My will and purposes], who will do all My will.’ From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel a Savior, [in the person of] Jesus, according to His promise.
Though David sinned great sins, his heart after God always brought him to the place of repentance. And because his heart was tender before God, even when confronted as king by the prophet, he made no excuse for his conduct. He simply acknowledged his sin and sought the mercy of God.
We must know that there are none who arrive at the state of perfection in this life. Yet we read that God said concerning Job that he was a perfect man. Our measure of perfect and God’s measure of perfect lie on different plains. We see perfection or holiness or righteousness measured in the outward things and we are quick to honor those who excel in these things, but God looks at the heart. Don’t get me wrong, it is true that our outward conduct is a reflection of our hearts. However that’s not always the case. When I was a child growing up at home, I had two lives; the one I lived while in my parents presence and the one I lived with my friends away from mom and dads view. As a pastor I can tell you that there are many church attendees that live one way at church or around the pastor and quite a different way when at work or away from those who they wish to impress with their godliness. The Bible teaches us that our own heart is wicked and deceitful and who can trust it.
So we come to Jesus and we begin to follow Him. We sit at His feet, we engage Him in conversation, we read His Word, we receive His Spirit and like the potter shaping the vessel, He makes us.
Maybe you’re like Peter, your intentions are good. You want to become what God has called you to be but the old you keeps throwing you off the path. Peter received this great revelation that Jesus was the Messiah and in the next breath Jesus is rebuking him saying, “Satan, get Thee behind me.” We find Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration awed at the appearance of the glorified Christ and then rebuked for elevating Moses and Elijah to the status of Christ. We find Peter declaring his loyalty to Christ and moments later denying that he knew him. This is us, great intentions, great failures. What then is our hope? “Come follow me, and I will make you….”, said Christ.
Our hope to be pleasing to God comes not from our own effort but from our total surrender to Him. We wait in His presence, on the potter’s wheel until He makes us the vessel as it pleases Him to make. We do not compare ourselves to any other that Him, and we trust His work in us to be enough.
Dr. John Thompson