Right now, I’m kinda meditating on scripture / preparing for our new small group series on the promises of God. A few days ago, I randomly read Hebrews 4 and 5 and was really struck by it. I decided to go back and read the whole book in the Message to get the big picture.
Navigating the fourth and fifth chapters, I was once again haunted by this passage:
12God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. 13Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it–no matter what.
14Now that we know what we have–Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God–let’s not let it slip through our fingers. 15We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all–all but the sin. 16So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
Such a great passage; why be haunted? Because it hits so close to home. It’s hard for me to "take the mercy, accept the help." I rarely "walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give." In my pride, I make things so much harder on myself by trying to do it on my own–for the mere sake of being able to say I did it on my own.
What am I trying to prove? Who am I trying to impress? I’m surely not going to leave an impression on God. That’s like expecting Michael Jordan’s father to be impressed with the hoop performance of a band-geek in sixth grade gym class. Jesus has already set the ultimate benchmark.
Making it all the worse is the reminder of what befell the Israelites when opting out of God’s chosen path: they missed out on the goods.
16For who were the people who turned a deaf ear? Weren’t they the very ones Moses led out of Egypt? 17And who was God provoked with for forty years? Wasn’t it those who turned a deaf ear and ended up corpses in the wilderness? 18And when he swore that they’d never get where they were going, wasn’t he talking to the ones who turned a deaf ear? 19They never got there because they never listened, never believed.
God’s delivery method for Israel’s blessing became the wilderness after all their whining and complaining–refusing to "take the mercy, accept the help." They didn’t like His way of doing things. I don’t flat out complain like they did, but I think my actions often suggest disregard for the narrow path.
There’s a lot to be had as a resident of God’s upside-down kingdom; lots of promises for His people. Those are the things we’re going to discuss as a small group. But when there is a lot to be had, that means there is a lot to miss out on. I sometimes wonder what I’ve missed out on with my blatant disobedience. What irreversible mistakes have I made?
I know God’s grace covers them all–I’m not questioning my salvation or anything like that. But there is stuff we miss by "turning a deaf ear" to God’s call. The Israelites surely missed out. There’s a Promised Land for all of us–one for us to dwell in right now, not only when we die.
Long story short: I really, really want to make sure I see it.