Earlier this week, we had some workers come into our home to hang some wall paper. They arrived early in the morning and began setting up their tools and prepping their work area. After a couple of hours, I came out of my home office for a break fully expecting to see wall paper on the walls.
Much to my surprise, the walls were just as bare as when they had arrived. So, I sidled up alongside the superintendent over the crew and engaged him in a friendly conversation about the (lack of) apparent progress of the job. I knew they were charging us a flat fee for the project and not working by the hour and I was curious as to why to why “nothing was getting done”.
Recognizing my ignorance of what it actually took to properly hang wall paper, the skilled craftsman basically explained to me that the most important aspect of hanging wall paper is the proper preparation of the walls on which the paper is being hung. He told me that if the walls were not prepared properly, it didn’t matter how much glue they used or how straight they hung the paper, there would ultimately be problems in getting the job done properly. The complications might now show up for a while after they were long gone but they would one day make an appearance. He assured me that I would not be happy when they did!
Having been schooled in proper wall paper preparation and hanging, I sauntered back into my home office. In the back of my mind, the truth of what the wall paper guy shared with me began to be illuminated by the Holy Spirit. I am an impatient man and, in my life, there have been many times where I have jumped the gun on laying the proper preparation necessary for an accurate work which endures in my life. More times than not, it has to do with establishing Christ-like character.
During lunch, I decided to forego lunch and just sit a while considering my life. As I reviewed certain specific situations and seasons in my life where I had just “started hanging paper not allowing for the proper preparation”, I simply asked Father for forgiveness and repented. Tears streamed down as I realized there were still remnants of torn paper adorning my life from those very situations. The sense I received was that there had to be proper acknowledgement of the inaccurate work on my part before the fitting renovation could be accomplished by Father’s uncompromising hand.
Abraham Lincoln once said,
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
Father seems to be continuing to unravel the entangled mess in my head and heart between what He is truly after and what my religious mind thinks He is after. While I am B-U-S-Y hacking at tree trunks and throwing up sagging wall paper in my life time in order to prove my worthiness, He’s at work conforming me to Christ and preparing me for eternal purpose and function.
In a recent conversation with a young brother, he expressed his frustration with this whole “being” versus “doing” principle that I espouse. I had to explain that I am not against “doing”. I truly believe that our faith is revealed by doing works. I am simply concerned with the motivation and power from which doing originates.
Sonship requires that we be led by the Spirit to say and do what Father desires. Flesh, especially flesh that is religious in nature, loves to toil and labor within the confines of an established order expecting an intended outcome. However, the outcome of such “paper hanging” and “tree chopping” is temporal and ends in death, while what “being led by the Spirit” produces is LIFE, which is eternal.
A perfect example of what I am alluding to is the story of the woman taken in adultery. In the midst of a religious crowd seeking to perform what they considered to be Father’s will (stoning to death the guilty), the Son squats down to sharpen the axe. Rather than “doing” according to the law, which he knew better than those surrounding him, he dials in to the Nature in him and ascertains Father’s purpose for the accused. He reaches into the heavenly realm and extends mercy and grace in the earth which produces Life, rather than judgment and condemnation that demands death.
One swift blow of that sharpened axe and you can hear that tree falling as it was severed at the roots! “Doing” motivated and originating from prepared “being” accomplishes Father’s purposes in the earth. Such behavior does not jive with religious nor humanistic reasoning and requires faith and simple obedience.
If you go back and read Matthew 11, you will discover that the following words were spoken by Jesus in the context of proper preparation for and accurate, practical function of Sonship. (emphasis added)
Come here to me, all who are growing weary to the point of exhaustion and who have been loaded with burdens and are bending beneath their weight, and I alone will cause you to cease from your labor and take away your burdens and thus refresh you with rest. Take at once my yoke upon you and learn of me, because I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find cessation from labor and refreshment for your soul, for my yoke is mild and pleasant, and my load is light in weight.
The yoke Jesus is speaking of, I believe, is the yoke of sonship, partaking of Father’s Nature in the new birth and entering into joint-heirship with Christ. It should be “easy”, as it says in the KJV, because the ability to do so comes from His empowerment to BE the sons of God and not from our own natural ability. Such a feat could never be accomplished by man’s will nor the power of man’s will. It is Father’s intent and pleasure to bring many sons to glory!
Through the Baptizer known as John, Father turned from the Old and revealed His intention in the New. As Spurgeon put it,
John was the herald of Christ; he was to prepare the way for the coming King, but from this text it appears that he was to do more than that. He was not only to make the road ready for the Lord, but he was also “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” That was a great work, a task in which he would require strength and wisdom greater than his own. He would need that the Spirit of God, who was to be given without measure to the coming One, should also be in a measure within himself, if he should really “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
As I mulled over the thought of preparation as it relates to Father’s purpose, I began to reflect on the preparations of Abraham, Moses, Noah, Gideon, David, Peter, Paul and, yes, even Mary. Each instance was specific to the individual’s experience but had one common thread………..all of them were according to Father’s purpose being fulfilled.
Considering these things, I have decided that for the rest of my days upon the earth, I will align my thoughts with Father and approach Father’s dealings with me, in me and through me as a true time of preparation for eternity. Whether I am experiencing (what we would call) apparent successes or failures, I am going to seek to be conformed to the Son. What’s more, I am going to extend that same consideration with others as I interact and deal with them in their spiritual pursuits. I am not the only son being prepared………I am simply one of many.
Oh, I am sure that there will be walls to paper and trees to hew down here and there. I just want to have the walls fully prepared and the axe sharpened before engaging in such activity and always keeping an eye focused on eternity rather than the temporal.
Keep your peace!