Monday, 3 December 2012

The Comfortable Sluggard

I've been reading through the book of Proverbs for the first time. How did I come to this situation at the age of 40 years, having been saved by Christ now, for some 32 years you ask? Well lets just say I'm really good at avoiding things I hate. Yes, you interpreted correctly, I have always hated the book of Proverbs. I can spend hours a day reading my bible but still not read one particular book. Hmmm. Confession time. I don't know why. Considering it's about wisdom, I can only assume that I never really wanted to know God's wisdom on life. That makes me one of the fools it talks about in there. That's a bit embarrassing isn't it! But God pointed this avoidance out to me late last year and so for the last few weeks I've been studying it. Consequently He's been pointing out quite a few corrections I need to make to my life. Anyway, I thought I'd share my journey the way He led me.

After reading quite a few chapters I began to discover a theme. Let me show you. Proverbs 16:2 “All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord”. Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death”. Proverbs 21:2 “All a man's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart”. I guess to summarize it, each of us always thinks we're right about our opinion on a topic, but the truth is, unless we're asking God for His opinion, we not going to discover the truth on our own. Psalm 139:23,24 says “Search me O' God and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting”. It is through testing that God reveals offensive, wicked ways in us. We can't see them ourselves – He has to reveal them, either by His word or by others or even by circumstances. I am called to have a heart open to His searching. I am called to ask, seek for the searching. So I started to ask and seek for this searching again these past few weeks. Show me what I am missing here and He did.

In Proverbs 24:30-34 I read about the sluggard who did nothing and consequently, his business good pharisee. It's funny because I assumed I had a relationship with the Living God but never wanted to be near Him or spend quality time with Him. Yet if that was a marriage I'd have concerns! I guess I just couldn't connect the dots back then. Rather I was resting on my spiritual heritage of good works. The outcome – thorns, weeds, sin everywhere, resulting in a lack of judgment about what was and wasn't sin.
(vineyard) and home were falling apart. It says the sluggard was lazy and lacking in judgment and, in this analogy of a vineyard, there were thorns and weeds everywhere, with the stone wall in ruin. The stone wall is a symbol of defensive security. This was me 4 years ago spiritually, I heard Him say. And He was right. I was lacking in judgment and spiritually lazy. By description I never saturated myself in the word as Psalm 1 requires, I rarely prayed except when I was super desperate, and in general I was living the life of a

I remember the day I repented, in tears, by the side of my bed. There has been a massive change since then. Together we are pulling out the weeds, thorns and strongholds in my life and repairing the holes in the walls. Ezekiel 13:5 says “You have not gone up to the breaks in the walls to repair it for the house of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the Lord.” That was the verse He used to convict me 4 years ago. It is still very powerful in my life. Ezekiel says the breaks are caused by sin, by declaring things as okay when God says they're not. He accuses the current leaders of God's people of telling the people everything was okay when it wasn't. Whitewashing over the mess so to speak, out of fear. The problem is, you can wallpaper over a hole in the wall for good appearances but the hole is still there. It's still a way for the Destroyer to get into your life. This is what it means when it says that we give Satan a foothold in our life in Ephesians 4:17-32. It's when we don't address sin.

So I've been learning all this over the past 4 years, but that is not what he taught me from Proverbs this week. First He just reminded me of all this. Then He hit me with the truth. The current hole he wants me to repair. Discipline. I'm not talking discipline as in just disciplining children but more than that. Discipline as in the opposite of being a sluggard. That regular chipping away at something so that eventually a big job is accomplished. Me? I balk at new things and starting BIG things. It's all too hard I say to myself. I want everything on a platter. That's my default setting. It's not right. It's not godly. I prefer to just pray everything into existence while I recline on the couch and watch TV.

Let me give you some examples of things I've become aware of over the past few years.

I wanted a close relationship with God but with very little effort on my behalf. 
I wanted to understand the bible in depth, but with very little effort on my behalf. 
I wanted well behaved children but with very little effort on my behalf. 
I wanted children who were passionate about God but didn't want to put the effort in to teaching them responsibly. 
I wanted a close relationship with my children but didn't want to have to change anything. (I've spoken about my hatred of change before).
 And now, this past year, I wanted good health but didn't want to have to put any of my own effort into it, like avoiding foods that were bad for me, completely changing our lifestyle. 

I guess I've always preferred the lightening bolt type of healing rather than the “I'll teach you what to do” type approach God sometimes uses. I could go on, but I'm sure by now you get the picture. The Sluggard. The Lazy. That's me. Preferring to lie around while my spiritual health declines, at times having the audacity to blame God for the situation.

I'm not sure if this is a problem with our Australian church here or not or whether all this just applies to me. I do wonder though, if we tend to want to only pray for the moving of the Holy Spirit in our nation, yet don't want the discipline of the fasting, the praying, the turning from our wicked ways that 2 Chronicles 7:14 speaks about. 2 Chronicles 7:14 “ if my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land”. God heal our land. But first, heal me.

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