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Personal: Radical Experiment

February 16, 2012

My thoughts here are for my edification. I have definite opinions that are, for lack of better terms, of a conservative bent and will most likely offend on some level readers of this blog. My intent is not to offend. Nor is it to open up to debate my personal beliefs. If my beliefs cannot be respected, please do not continue reading this post and come back on another day.

So the new Wednesday class is studying Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. We haven’t gotten to THE radical experiment part but we were challenged this week to be a Trader.

What is a Trader? While the idea comes from another source, the gist of it is this in relation to the lesson: trade the “me centered focus” for a “God centered focus.”

The challenge to the participants is this: find something, anything that you would normally do for yourself, and trade it for something that you normally wouldn’t do that puts God first.

One of things that came to mind right away for me was the Writing Workshop post I usually do on Thursday (Day 1 of the challenge). I write this blog for me first off, if anyone else reads it that is gravy. So with fond regard to Mama Kat, I’m a Trading in my post for one that I hope gives God the glory and touches the heart of anyone who might stumble upon it.

In our ladies class, which I have only just started going back to (a struggle I’ve had to overcome), we are studying Keeping Your Balanceby Nancy Eichman. (Are you noticing a theme in our Bible studies lately?) One of the first points of the study is that unless we try to live a life like Jesus, balance will elude us.

Why Jesus? Why a life like Jesus’?

Hebrews 5:7-10

New International Version (NIV)

7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Emphasis mine.

We started off by talking about Job and how we learn from and take comfort from the story of a man like Job–God never left him and Job never turned from him. Yes, Job did, as we all do, cry out “Why?”

And you know what? We are allowed to do that. God allows for us to ask “Why?” He allows us to say, “You know what, this stinks.” Job did. Job asked why.

There is a fine line, though, between asking for answers and asking in an accusation of blame. And God gave Job an answer: “When you speak without knowledge, you question me. Unless you were with me at Creation, with the same power and glory, who are you to question me?”

Job answered humbly, “I did speak without knowledge. And you answered me saying ‘listen and hear and then I have a question for you.’ I had heard of you but now I see you. I know I was wrong.”

The key is Job never turned from God, even though he dangerously asked in accusation. He did not listen to the counsel of his friends or his wife. God had harsh words for them in the end.

The passage in Hebrews says again that even Christ offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears. Even Christ was able to say “This stinks and if there is any other possible way for this to be done, please, PLEASE do it.” But he didn’t end his prayer there. “Nevertheless, not my will but thine.” Job acknowledged the power and glory of God and asked for forgiveness. Christ submitted himself wholly to the will of God.

That is what God asks of us in our time of sorrow and trial. God ALWAYS hears the prayers of the righteous. Just because His answer may not be the one we want or think we need, He always answers. It wasn’t easy for Job to listen to his wife and three friends and still remain faithful to God. It is not easy for us in the face of hardship to not turn away but it is oh so easy to be faithful when life is good.

It was always within Christ’s power to call down angels, to prevent such a cruel and horrible death. But he didn’t. Instead, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12: 2b)” Knowing what his sacrifice would mean for the creation he loved, he endured.

We can take comfort that Jesus had a truly human reaction to what lay before him. And he showed us by not using the power at his command to submit to the will of the Father, we can and should do the same, even in the face of adversity. And God will hear us.

By following that example we can be closer to finding balance.

Jesus was also more God centered rather than me centered. I will be more of a Trader if I follow Jesus’ example. In addition to this post, I will Trade this week by when I reach for pleasure reading I will reach instead for one of the books we are studying so that I’m not just winging it in class. It may not directly serve others but it is worshiping God and if I really learn from it and apply it, then others will benefit eventually.

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