Monday, October 31, 2011

Abandoned by God?

Jesus preached that salvation is available to every seeker:

• Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11)

It isn’t just that Jesus has the ability to save, He also is more than eager to save – far more so than even our natural fathers. The humbled sinner therefore should never doubt that He will generously answer.

However, it often seems that He has not answered, that He has turned a cold back to us. When I mentioned the promise of these verses to an atheist, he responded, “I’ve already tried that seek-and-find stuff.” And the atheist isn’t alone in feeling this way! The Christian also often feels abandoned by God.

I too had felt this way on many occasions. After I failed to find peace from my highly recommended psychotherapists, I began to reluctantly resort to my last hope – God. Believers told me that when I at the bottom, God would respond to me. Well, I was certain that I had hit the bottom, and so I cried out to this mysterious God, and when He didn’t respond, I cursed Him out as thoroughly as I possibly could. If He existed, I became convinced that He just didn’t like me very much.

However, He did reveal Himself six years later, when I was indeed at the end of the line. I was lying in a pool of blood resulting from a careless chain-saw injury, thinking that any moment would be my last. I had lost so much blood, I though it was just a matter of moments. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed by the realization that I wasn’t alone. I was as certain of His presence as I was of the blood that covered me, and I was filled with ecstatic joy and peace. I knew that He loved me and would protect me, even if I died.

Later, I wondered why He hadn’t revealed Himself sooner. I don’t think I had been ready. Although I wanted God, I wanted Him my way. Unless He conformed Himself to my specifications, I wasn’t interested. I thought I had been searching, but I really wasn’t. I didn’t really want to know God, although I did want His help.

Our Lord has His own timing, and Scripture began to reveal this to me. Moses had jumped the gun, assuming that God would bless his attempt to lead the Israelite slaves out of Egypt. However, it wasn’t God’s time. Moses had risked everything and lost it all. Even his Israelite brethren turned against him, and so Moses fled in fear, surrendering any hope of ever serving God.

However, 40 years later, God appeared to Moses in the midst of a burning bush and instructed him to return to Egypt to lead the children of Israel out of bondage. Moses vigorously objected, insisting that he wasn’t the right man for the job (Exodus 3-4). However, now the timing was God’s.

Our Lord assures us that He wants to give us all things, including salvation to the sincere seeker:

• Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

• All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (John 6:37)

• Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord [sincerely] will be saved. (Romans 10:13)

However, we might not be ready. Although we might be certain that we are ripe to hit the Lotto and become millionaires, we might not be able to perceive the costs. However, surveys of Lotto-winners reveal an entirely different landscape of ruined lives.

This shouldn’t surprise us. Often, we’ve been heart-broken after receiving what we thought would make us happy – whether it came in the form of a house, a relationship, or a job.

Never fear that God has rejected you and doesn’t want you to be saved. Scripture assures us otherwise:

• The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Nevertheless, from our perspective, He might seem slow. However Peter assures us that time in His estimation is different than ours (2 Pet. 3:8). Please know that there is not one instance in all of Scripture where someone came to the Lord seeking forgiveness/salvation and was denied. ANY who seek will find!

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