His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel, head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.
So Saul demanded, bring me the burnt offering and the peace offering. And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself…how foolish, Samuel explained. You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, He would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. – 1 Samuel, 14
In our last few days in England, we spent the time with our nephew’s little children, playing in the park, buying ice creams and going to the swings. Have you ever been aware how reliant on us little children are? They need to be fed, taught, paid attention to, clothed; even crossing the road is an exercise in their reliance on adults. It is lovely, because they are so simply unaware, they naturally take your hand to be led.
We spent much of the time away, in a more relaxed state listening to what the Lord might say to us, and this issue came up time and again. As a church, a society and most certainly as believers, we have become self-reliant. He addressed us specifically in what we were trying to do for Him, and I feel challenged.
This reliance on ourselves spreads into every aspect of our Christian lives. In our church, we come with our pre-packaged service, we will sing these songs, which will last for this long, and then this will happen, followed by that. One person – the same person, will tell us each week what the Lord is trying to say to us. Heaven forbid if the Lord decided that week to speak instead through the divorcee Mrs Jones, sitting in seat 13D, and told her a message He wanted everyone to hear, through her. When would the opportunity ever come for that message to be heard? Nope, we will run the show, and the show must be run how we determine.
Think I’m just church bashing? Not at all, the Lord really spoke to me about what we were doing in our corner of the world. We were chastised. How often did I decide that someone wasn’t worth approaching to speak to, even though the Spirit prompted me clearly to talk to them? Was our success decided by Him, or us? If Him, then was that same success dependent on Him or us? Were there really Saul times in my life, when what I had done in sin, just by simply ignoring God, meant that the opportunity the Lord had planned for me or others, had passed by forever? What a travesty if that is the case, which I am sure it is.
For those of who know us and our circumstance, you know how miraculous it is that he has started to restore our fortunes through our business. Many times he has spoken to both of us, and confirmed that he will bless us through this, and that he can be relied upon to be faithful to his word? Why then, did I wake up at 2:30am, stressed because I thought everything would fall apart if I wasn’t there. In fact, our business continues to go from strength to strength in spite of myself, and we are acutely aware of who is behind it. Self-reliance.
The amazing story of Jesus Christ, is that he lived absolutely inside of the will of God, never deviating. He trusted his Father moment by moment, and never wavered from that; he trusted that when he thrust his hands onto someone to be healed, the power required would be there. That when a response to the overzealous Pharisees was necessary, the Holy Spirit would provide the suitable answer. Even when faced with death, when the world felt finally that evil had won, he moved with intent onto the cross to fulfil the will of the Father, confident of the outcome. In Christ there was absolutely, not a shred of self-reliance.
So why are we so opposite to that? Why do we do ministry in our own strength, when the resources of heaven are at our disposal; why do we ignore the moment by moment leading of the Spirit, to instead decide how we will run things; why do we not trust that His ways, however seemingly absurd at times, are the best and sometimes only way this will work?
We must repent, every one of us. Let us not just pay lip service to this, but really turn away from running the show, all of the time. Amongst all, I am perhaps most guilty. But I believe that my self-reliance is perhaps the greatest blockage to success in what we try to do for the Lord. If I would just get out of the way, and follow his leading, then God – this extraordinary God, who can do so much more than I can ever imagine, might just be allowed to work.
Will I, will you, trust him enough to allow this to happen? Imagine what the result might be if we did.