Sun, it rises
I haven’t slept yet but the sun rises today as it always does.
I’ve been playing battleships with God. He’s obviously winning, ’cause I’m writing. I always write when I lose a flesh-spirit battle with him (which is all the time). If you’ve never played battleships each player is given a board with two grids, five ships, and a bunch of hit and miss markers. The goal is to sink all of your opponent’s ships by correctly guessing their location.
It’s like God knows the location of all of our ships – the things we like to keep hidden, our selfish pursuits, lust, greed, addictions etc and He points them out correctly. As if identifying them isn’t enough, when we get before Him and ask for Him to invade our lives; in all of His redemptive power, love and grace, He sinks them. It isn’t some measly task either. He seriously sinks our ships – full of sin – so they’re never to be seen again (for another analogy see Psalm 103:12).
The other ships, God keeps afloat and steers them in the right direction – our character, our passions, talents, relationships, selfless pursuits. Satan is our greatest opponent and he knows the location of all these ships and tries to sink them by bringing up our past, driving wedges into healthy relationships, planting seeds of doubt in our minds in an attempt to keep our ships from moving forward. We have to be ready then to trust in the head of the fleet to guard our hearts. He is Almighty God, and very capable of leading us; we’re the ones that hit and miss.
I’ve also been meditating on a txt my dad sent me last week. It said:
“…think about this: ‘Abba, I belong to you.'”
In Hebrew, Abba is a term of endearment for one’s own father (Galatians 4:6, Romans 8:15) and is a more intimate expression for father than the normal Hebrew word.
I’m amazed by the concept that God wants me to experience Him as Abba, Father. If I was to compare it (rather meekly) to anything, it would be my relationship with my dad. I call him ‘daddy’ as an endearing term. I collapse into His arms when I’m tired, unmotivated and when life’s a bit too much. He’s one of my greatest encouragers, he’s generous, selfless and prays for me everyday without fail. He has my best interests at heart, he’s an amazing husband to my mum and the best uncle, brother, cousin, son and friend. I know after a hard day, he’ll bring me a cup of tea and make sure I’m alright. I still consider myself daddy’s little girl and I probably always will.
Our Father in Heaven deserves all the glory, yes. We must always consider who we’re addressing — the Master of the Universe. He is most High and we should be in awe of Him. But He also deserves our endearment. He is the Shepherd that goes after the one lost sheep. He welcomes us home with open arms even when we take advantage of his loving-kindness. He is everlasting Father, Father of All, Father of Glory, Father of mercies, Father of Lord Jesus, our Messiah, Father of spirits, God of all comfort, He is Heavenly Father.
He’s ready for you to collapse into His arms.
When we surrender our lives to God, it’s like falling in love. At first it’s a bit awkward and the first dates can be uncomfortable. The guards come down after a while and all of the secret compartments hidden in drawers are exposed. It’s a vulnerable process, but a worthwhile one.
It’s the same with God. When we’re vulnerable before Him, He begins a work of love in our lives. He gets us. He knows us. I’m not gonna lie, trusting God requires courage and faith. When we bring all of who we are, all of our ships – heading in wayward directions – to the throne of Abba, our Father in Heaven, He is quick and faithful to point us in the right direction. I’m learning that God doesn’t belong to me, but rather, I belong to Him.
I often think about how small I am in comparison to how big God is and it freaks me out. But His ‘bigness’ says something about our ‘smallness’. Who are we that the Creator of the Universe is mindful of us? I used to think that my story wasn’t powerful enough or moving enough to demonstrate the love of God. What I’ve discovered is that my story is the best kind of evidence I have that Jesus can save anybody.
God deserves to be glorified across all spectrums of culture: law, economics, the Arts, hospitality, education, government etc because everything belongs to Him. Using our God-given gifts marvellously, beautifully, artistically, excellently honours God. He can’t be put in a box of Christiandom. He created all things – the intricate wings of butterflies and the intelligence of men. He can’t be contained in a chapel or in gospel music. He is total truth and all glory and honour in every aspect of culture belongs to Him.
When we make a decision to honour God in everything we do, even if we don’t understand why, He will be glorified. He has given us the mantle to produce creatively because He is the Creator of the Universe and He made us in His image.
It’s so common for people to live fragmented lives. We wear masks for different people, places and practices. God in all of His goodness, subjected His beloved Son to the abuses of His own creation to save us from ourselves. Accepting that unfathomable love means we no longer have to live double lives because we’re no longer our own. We just need to be real with ourselves and with others. Genuine. Transparent. Pointed towards Heaven.
I’ve been writing this piece for two weeks and revised it 22 times. For the past few years I’ve been studying towards a degree in subject areas I don’t even love. I was lost when I finished school because I never had a “vocation” on my heart to pursue. After a year at one university I moved to another in the same city and started again. For the next three years I saw myself fall in and out of interest in my education. “I’m doing really well, thank you” was my default response when people asked me how uni was. I grew frustrated and angry that I had a weak perspective of God’s power, no sense of purpose, no idea what my priorities were.
Pastor David Ireland encouraged my church with the story of Nehemiah tonight (Nehemiah 1-4). Amongst other gems, I was brought to tears by the simple yet profound idea that ‘Nehemiah’s God-given purpose wasn’t dictated by his vocation.’
God offers me Jesus when I’m stuck in a rut of confusion about what my life’s purpose is. God’s love flashes through my soul as I offer the complexities of who I am to Him. Maybe for you, your vocation equals your purpose. You have an obvious call to ministry or an obvious gift in the Arts. You’re a musician, a dancer, an artist, a designer, a preacher, a writer.
Or maybe you’re like me and you can’t quite put your finger on one thing. Success isn’t about position, how far we can extend careers in certain fields, how much money we have, how well we can articulate our gifts. Success is a life in constant check with the Holy Spirit, in constant awe of the person of Jesus, an awareness of God threading love and grace through the tapestry of our lives.
God is slowly defining the purpose I was put on this earth for. When I’m mulling over my messy life, He reminds me of His constancy. He’s refocusing my priorities, shifting my perspective, bringing me back to a basic trust in Him.
We are the many ships on the sea without sail or captain until we realise the head of the fleet, Almighty God, has been tugging us along behind Him the whole course of our lives. God is like the sun rising every day without fail – relentless in His pursuit of you, unchanging in His love for you, empowering in His purpose for you.
Pray that God unfolds His love in your life and that He plants a ferocious passion in your heart. And that thing won’t be yours. It will be your Creator’s, your Maker’s. You will be His vessel for bringing the soothing balm of His love to the world. Ask Him to release His living waters that they would flow through your life as a bubbling brook to quench the thirst of all the people you’ll meet who feel parched with brokenness, insignificance, worthlessness, and disgrace.
And you will tell them the story of Daddy’s love and they will collapse into His arms like a small child who has fallen from a tree.