03 May, 2014

Pre-Packaging God

One thing I've learned (OK, I'm still learning this) is that we cannot put God into a box. I know, that statement sounds like one of those cliches that preachers throw out so often. But it is true, that we try to "pre-package" God in how He can operate in our lives and in the world. Growing up in church it was just a fact that if we sang page 110 of the "red back hymnal" enough times, then it was a sure thing that the Holy Spirit was going to move. (Some of you old-timers know what I mean.) And of course we know that if Sister "so and so" shouted and danced then we knew we were in for a "great service" that night and the preacher was not going to preach. And we all knew that when the preacher did not preach, THAT was a great service where "God showed up." (I always hated that phrase. I mean, does that mean that sometimes god is missing in action? Don't get me started on this!) It's true, we do try to pre-package God or to put Him in a box. You know, because He moved in a certain way, that means that if we replicate what we did last time God moved, that means He will HAVE to move if we do it again. Right? It's not just us today... Moses did the exact same thing. God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would come forth from that rock. But Moses remembered that last time he had to strike the rock with his staff for water to come out, and he figured that if that was what worked last time, that was what he was supposed to do for the miracle to happen this time as well. But God had told him to speak to the rock this time. God was trying to teach Moses (and us) something powerful about trusting Him... but Moses was trying to "pre-package" God and His miracles.

Another place we see God trying to teach us this lesson is in the life of Elisha. Elisha had a reputation  of being a miracle worker. We could go through the list: He raised the Shunammite womans dead son, he made poisonous stew edible, and he fed one hundred men with twenty loaves of bread.  So we read that when Naaman, the proud Aramean army commander, traveled to see Elisha for healing of his leprosy, Naaman expected a glorious healing event. He wanted the music playing to create the right atmosphere. He wanted the preacher to come out and wave his coat or arms or to blow on him and knock him down. But as we read the story (2 Kings chapter 5) we see that Elisha did not even get up and go to the door to greet him! Instead, he simply sent word through his servant and told Naaman to go wash in the Jordan River seven times.  

Dude! Talk about insult!
Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.”  

Here's the thing... Gods ways are not our ways. Come on, let's be totally honest... we all tend to turn our nose up at the ordinary. That's why we don't go to our local pastor for prayer for a miraculous healing, but wait instead for a Benny Hinn, Todd Bentley or some other big name evangelist to come nearby. I mean, seriously, people will drive 500 miles to get to Benny Hinn and believe if He prays, the miracle will come. (I don't say that to disparage Hinn at all.) What we are doing is putting God in a box. We come to the place that our actions speak clearly that it's ok to pray in our local church for a headache or trouble with the neighbor... but those BIG things, like cancer... that takes a special man or woman in a big crusade! Surely no one believes that God would do such a supernatural miracle in our small town church of 40 people! That would be an insult to God, right? I mean He deserves the bright lights and splendor of the massive crusade. THERE, He will move. (Again, nothing against the big crusades.)  But the fact is, it may very well be that those small places may be the very venue in which God chooses to enact change or healing in us or in our situations. God, who can easily cause supernatural, mind-boggling events, often employs the small, the insignificant, the ordinary... to work His will. When Naaman finally accepted this, he was healed.

So I close with this thought... Don't try to put God in a box by seeking YOUR perfect situation where everyone see's the grand display of power. Learn instead to take pleasure in receiving whatever means God chooses to use.  Remember, the Jewish people are still looking for their Messiah because they refused that He could possibly come in such an ordinary way.

No more boxes Lord!

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