Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Preparing to Go Out

Antsy. I feel like my legs are pumping in the air, just ready to hit the ground at full speed. But there is a reason I'm not yet touching the ground; some explanation for why I haven't been turned loose. The reason is simple, though I don't want to acknowledge it ~ I'm not ready. I want very much to be. And I am impatient at the thought of more waiting; more preparation.

However, God's word shows us that before we enter life-altering service to our King, we need preparation. Much like a slovenly peasant coming in out of the field, I am far too crass, too awkward, too dirty to be a representative of the King of kings. Please understand ~ I am worthy to enter into His courts, because I am His adopted daughter. He pursued me, relentlessly, in the muck and mire to which I had run. His son Jesus, brought me into this palace; He covered my with His pristine robes of royalty and presented me to His Father. And His Father said, "welcome back, little girl. How We've missed you! Now, Let's get to work."

I've found that before any redeemed children can jump directly into the roles for which our Father destined us, we need His divine preparation. Sometimes we know what our roles are, and even how to go about accomplishing them. Other times, we do not. In Genesis 6:13-22, God tells Noah exactly what he is do to (build the ark, get all the animals on board, get in the boat). "And Noah did everything just as God commanded him (Gen 6:22)." In those few lines of scripture, we see Noah's preparation. Where? Well, the ark took more than a day to build. So God was preparing Noah through his project. Noah hadn't ever seen rain; had no need for an ark. The act of getting up everyday and going back to the task that God had assigned him was a great act of faith. And Noah was going to need a whole lot of faith if he was going to get onto a boat, float for only-God-knew how long, land only-God-knew where, and start re-populating the world. In his daily obedience, God was growing Noah's faith to handle what would come next.

We see a different story in the book of Ester. Having been plucked from her family and carted off to potentially wed a king, Ester had no idea that she was being groomed by her God to save her people. In Ester 2:12, we read that before a girl could be presented to the king, she had to undergo a year of beauty treatments. While her "job" was to try to please the king, she needed a great deal of preparation in order to make this attempt. She would first have to be pleasing to his eyes, then his touch, before she could be close enough to his heart to gain his trust. And in order to do the job for which God was preparing her, she would have to be close enough to the king to have his ear even more than his most trusted advisers. And only a wife is that close.

In Daniel 1:5, we see that the youths who were entering the king's service had to undergo 3 years of training before they could test. In that time, Daniel also had to choose to be obedient to his God, as opposed to being swayed by the cultural norms. So Daniel had to learn about these cultures, but keep himself separate from them. Then, he could be the man God would use to influence kings. And through his service, only God would be glorified.

Please don't hear that women are only valued by their looks (Ester was only prepared with beauty treatments) and only guys are valued for their intellect and faith (Daniel was prepared with 3 years of teaching and Noah by building the ark). What's going on here is a specific preparation for God's specific purpose. Noah didn't need 6 months of oil baths to get him ready to sit in a boat with all the animals of creation. So, God didn't prepare him that way. Daniel didn't need 6 months of beauty treatments to prepare to serve the king in a God-honoring way. Look at the practical means of service ~ Noah needed a mode of transport for himself, his family, and a literal zoo. God prepared him for this by telling him to get to work on that vessel, though he'd never seen a drop of rain. Daniel needed to be steeped in the intellectual and cultural norms, so that he could serve as Nebuchadnezzar's advisor; but separated from these norms so all the glory would go to God. Ester needed to be closer to the king than an advisor. Who is the closest person to a man's heart? His wife. Therefore, in order to enter the innermost circle of the king's trust, Ester had to prepare to become the woman a king would desire.

Don't look at the preparation of another as necessarily appropriate or even needed for your specific service. Frankly, I would much prefer a year of beauty treatments to building an ark. But, if God wants me to be on the boat, oil baths and beauty treatments will do me no good in furthering His will.

For now, I will keep my zealous anticipation for my intended service with the understanding that I'm in a time of preparation. I feel like I'm being groomed, in a fashion, after each of these individuals. God's given me a ministry; so like Noah, I don't know where it's going to take me, but I'm out there daily, building my boat to God-only-knows where. I am, like Daniel, learning about the cultural and intellectual norms of our society; not to embrace them, but so that I may be separate from them and in this glorify my God. And I am in a way being treated like Ester. My speech is being refined to something more beautiful (not eloquent, but not harsh or cruel either). And I am enjoying baths of oil, not literal baths~figurative of course, so that I am a beautiful, softly glowing bride for when I meet my groom ~ Jesus Christ ~ in person!

No comments:

Post a Comment