In Relationship with God, We Always Have a Choice
This is the continuation of a series of Podcasts started in Episode #594.
A relationship without choice is slavery. And yet this very choice can create confusion when we try to reconcile it with “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Martha that puts me in mind… I want to say to that, that the Lord also makes absolutely clear to us what the choice is, so that we know the choice that we’re making. We can’t fool ourselves about making that choice. And I’ll give myself as an example, for how He deals with me, because I believe He deals with everyone this personally, this specifically, this uniquely, to make clear to them what, what is on the line and, and what the choice is. So, I have a natural tendency, meaning in my old woman, in the flesh apart from Him, to assume the worst. That is who… I have been a cynic, for a very, very, very long time, perpetually waiting for the other shoe to drop. And so when I’m in crisis and something is going on and I’m suffering – or not even real suffering. It can just be I’m having a really bad day, this is, something bad’s going on, a relationship, I just had a fight with someone, whatever – the Lord always takes me to the bottom line because that’s where I live anyway when I’m in that frame of mind. And He knows He can meet me there. And that is, “If the worst possible outcome, which is already running through your head, is what I have in mind for you, if that’s My will for you, the worst case scenario which you are already contemplating, are you still with Me? Do you still choose Me? Are you still following Me? Will you love Me in that, in that place, in My sovereign decision for you?” That’s where He always brings me. He brings down to the bottom line of the crossroads that I’m at with Him, of the doubts that are assailing me about Him, about His will for my life, all of it. That’s where I come every single time. That’s me. I’m not saying that’s how He deals with everyone. But that’s how He deals with me, because He knows me and He knows that (laughs) I’m dramatic and that’s where I go. And that is the choice every single time. “In one way or another, are you still with Me? Will you follow where I’m leading you? Will you love Me in the mess that I’m allowing you to walk into and stay maybe longer than you want?” That is my choice. He will make clear the choice, that that is what is before me, and that’s where things get so interesting in the volitional and being carried. Because in that, when He takes us to the bottom line in essence (laughs), we choose to be carried or we choose to get off the train and let go and say no. And we can! Because at the heart of it, Martha – and this I am going to hit again – it’s a relationship. There is no relationship without both people in it by choice, choosing to be in it together. Then that’s not relationship. I’m not sure what it is, exactly but it’s not actual relationship. And, I’m not married but I think that if you are married and had no communication and just pulled the emergency chute every time things got rough, that’s not much of a marriage, right? That’s not much of a relationship. I don’t think we would call that love. We would call that many things but I don’t think we would call that love, because love doesn’t leave. And He doesn’t! He says, “Are you still with Me?” He’s not saying, “Look at Me the right way or I’m out of here.” That’s not, that’s not, what, how God puts it. God says, “You have a choice of whether or not to follow Me where I am taking you in this.” And that’s every day. That’s every day and it’s the heart of my relationship with Him.
I’ve been talking about leaning on Him and how He brings you to the place to lean on Him. And I’m thinking about, it was always my desire to please. I wanted to please my daddy, I wanted to please my mother, I wanted to please my big sister and my in-laws and I wanted to please my husband. I remember when I understood that God is pleased only with His Son. And that what He is looking for in me is the life of Jesus. That will please Him. I cannot please Him on any other ground. Most of Christianity does not understand that God will have nothing to do with the self or the flesh or the old man. Nothing is acceptable to God. He is merciful, He is long suffering, and, but this is all about Jesus. Everything is about Him and for Him. You are here for Him and it’s best to be here for Him since you are here for Him. You don’t have so much trouble if you’re for Him since you’re here for Him.
Been reading Austin-Sparks, who I adore, and I’m going to read to you some things from the Stewardship of the Mystery, Volume 1. And he says, “Not one fragment anywhere will be allowed that is not of Christ. There’s nothing He will receive from us with any eternal value or any fruit on this earth that is from the flesh.” (We don’t understand that the flesh is death.) Ok, “Not one fragment… In the final issue, not one fragment anywhere that is not of Christ will be allowed. (Repeat) In the final issue, not one fragment anywhere that is not of Christ will be allowed. Christ excludes everything that is not of Himself. That is God’s ruling of the matter.” He says, “We have to settle it once and for all that God is not going to receive any work, any effort, any idea that is not Christ Himself. The Bride of Christ will going to be Christ formed in you.” That’s the only, Christ will look in you for the reflection of Himself, and to get that is to understand the entire universal meaning of everything. Because everything is for Christ, everything will be under Him one day. God will subdue everything at the right time it says in Ephesians New Living Translation, at the right time God will bring everything together under the authority of Christ, everything in heaven, and everything on earth. That’s the end of humanity. Everything that is not of Christ will be excluded. Everything done for Christ by self will not be received. God receives only His Son. And that’s what resurrection life is. So, see, when God’s giving, bringing you to the place to lean, when there are devastating things going on in your life, you may not comprehend the whole picture but the purpose is for you to be conformed to Christ and that doesn’t mean be like Him. It means letting Him be Him. We are like Him because He is being Him. So the devastating thing… It takes so much courage – and God gives it – to be nothing and to wait for Christ to move or be or express or lead or guide, to wait for Him to move and not want to move instead of Him. I think you are nodding your heads like you understand.
So what is the relationship between choosing and leaning or is it the same thing?
The relationship, as Jennifer described it, I think, with choosing is with the person of Christ. And choosing to die for Him gives Him permission to cause you to lean. We won’t volunteer to lean and be nothing. We can choose it but we can’t make it happen. I won’t be, I won’t be…yeah. So God Himself has to bring you to the leaning as He did me and as He did even Billy Graham. What a debilitating thing to have a disease like that and receive it for the purpose of leaning on God so that that relationship, that you are asking, that choice in the relationship, so that that relationship is more and more Christ only. So you can’t do what God’s asking you to do. You only have to choose. You don’t have to perform it. You don’t have to get yourself there because He says He will work within you to will and to do of His own good pleasure. He has assumed the job to perform it in you. He did a conference of which I was merely a spectator. That sounds insane but it’s the most real thing in the universe that Christ’s life can do anything He asks of us to do. So if we could get that, we’d be a little bit at peace but most of the time we don’t, because you are being challenged, as Jennifer said, all the time on this ground; all the time to choose and to allow Him to do what He pleases in your life and to know that whatever He’s about is for the Son and it’s to get you deeply into the Son. That help any at all? It’s bewildering, it’s devastating, it’s confusing and many times you’re living through your own mystery. That’s what you’re doing. You really don’t know exactly where He’s going. And just… The only way you can endure that impossibility is to surrender. I’ve got this one thing that I…it came from Ian Thomas’s ministry. He said it was… In his work with young men, he told the testimony of this young Russian man who was born again and he said, “I told the Lord that I loved Him so much that I would do anything He asked of me. So I yielded and I yielded and I yielded and one day I realized another life was living me.” I love that.
In Relationship with God, We Always Have a Choice – Episode #597 – Shulamite Podcast
A relationship without choice is slavery, which is why we always have a choice with God. And yet this very choice can create confusion when we try to reconcile it with “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” which is the Christian life. How do we square this circle?