We are now over halfway into the first month of 2018. There is something inviting about a fresh start or a clean slate. Beginning a new year can be like that too. God has something in store for us in the year ahead, and it’s not just the same as it was before.
As we neared the new year, I was staying up late into the night studying and working on a new booklet. Of the many things I was and am learning in the process, one thing that has become more real and fresh to me is that anything God does, it is supernatural.
Impossibilities before Them
Think about the story from Christ’s life of the woman who touched the hem of His garment. All the people were pressing in against Jesus, and here was one little woman, awfully sick for 12 long years who just touches the hem of His garment and believes.
And then we have the beggar, Bartimaeus, standing by the roadside when Jesus comes by. The crowd was moving along, and Bartimaeus must have heard the commotion. I imagine he must have asked what was going on and found out Jesus was coming! From somewhere, he must have heard that Jesus of Nazareth healed people, that He was one who made the blind see, the lame to walk, and even the dead come alive! A hope must have sparked within him.
Surely his life felt hopeless before that. He was born blind and could have easily resigned in his heart that he would die a beggar and blind. But now, he sees one chance to possibly get healed and see real change. I can just see him thinking, “I don’t know where He is, or how I’ll get to Him. People think I am an awful sinner, or that my parents sinned and now there is this curse upon me, but who knows what could happen?” And with that hope, he screams, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” and Jesus stops.
He called out to Jesus with that ray of hope, and he was made well. Same with this woman—she came to Christ. Studying the customs of the times, she had to be all alone because she was defiled and an outcast. She could have easily been broken by environment, circumstances, sickness and spending all her money to find help. She thought to herself, “if only I can somehow touch the hem of His garment!” and she does.
All of a sudden, instantaneously, something amazing happens for her and Bartimaeus—they are healed (see Mark 5:25-34, 10:46-52).
Question for You
Now here is the question: were there not many other women or men in those crowds who were in desperate need? Was Bartimaeus, the beggar, the only one on the wayside? Were there not other people with severe illnesses? What was the common denominator for this woman and Bartimaeus? Think about it.
By God’s grace, whether in prayer or meditation or however, the answer for them and for us is coming to the point when we put aside our own logic and our own way to find answers and take that leap into the hands of God where our world touches the supernatural. The transient and the immanent now meet. It is God who is doing the work now, not us. But it is our responsibility to stop hanging onto to our human logic and reasoning.
The Mystery of Godliness
The year 2017 is now behind us, and we are looking into 2018. We have many aspirations for the year ahead of us. I do. You do. We all do. But the Scripture says very well that that which is not of faith is sin. We can’t simply aspire to do great things. We need to leap into the hands of God, and trust Him to carry us.
As C.S. Lewis very well said, modern man has put God in the dock, which means we have put God on trial, and we are now the ones to decide what is the truth and how we must worship Him. Unless our mind is satisfied logically and we can believe it, just like we believe that 2 plus 2 equals 4, then we cannot accept it. I recommend reading materials from the first centuries of the Church to see how they saw God and followed Him. How do we live our lives with Christ in this post-Christian era? If you have not read the book The Benedict Option, I recommend reading it. It is wonderful book to begin to think about how we live for Christ in these changing times.
Now look at 1Timothy 3:16: “the mystery from which true godliness springs is great.” The mystery of godliness is wrapped up in this, that God became flesh and dwelt among us. The infinite met with the finite, and we are changed. “Mystery” by definition means it is difficult or impossible to explain. God is our Creator, yet some how we feel that we must be able to explain Him before we can truly follow Him without reservation. God is so much beyond what we can completely grasp, even and especially, in how He has redeemed us. We cannot and we should not limit God based on what we can understand.
A Challenge for You
Looking into the year ahead, I would challenge you: in anything that God is asking you to do in 2018, refuse to agonize, argue and settle the case within yourself with commentaries, preachers and your own reasoning. Turn to God. Look toward God. Read His Word, and ask God to tell you the mystery behind what you read. Choose to believe Him at His word, and what He has said He will do.
Think about Psalm 73; it’s a great example of doing just that. It is the story of a godly man who came to the place where he believed he was stupid and dumb, and his life just didn’t make sense any more. Basically, he was saying, “I wasted my life away. Look at all those people! They look like they are all doing so well, so successful. But they’re ungodly and ruthless! Look at me. I seek to do right, but My life is full of pain and sorrows and misunderstanding and I just can hardly make my living.” Finally, he says, “When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply until I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny” (Psalm 73:16-17).
Until that moment, he was just left with his own thoughts and logic. He was left with the transient. Then he met with God, and he realized those who looked so successful were standing on slippery ground; it will all be gone before you know it. He concludes, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. . . . as for me, it is good to be near God” (Psalm 73:25, 28).
For the year 2018, don’t be afraid to be in need, even great need, without any foreseeable solution. It is just those sorts of challenges that become the catalyst for us to take that leap to God and His ways because we have no other alternative. I am terribly excited about this year because no matter what I have to deal with, I don’t have to be trying to figure everything out. All I can do is ask myself, What is the transient in my life, the here and now? What is the untouchable? And God, who is infinite, can touch it and make it part of a mystery that I may never understand in this life. It is not about outward success, and it’s not about an easy road. I am learning more and more that we cannot go forward with the Lord in what He has for us, especially in this day and age, without continued and growing suffering for Him in this life. But in the midst of that, we become part of something so much greater than what this present suffering can be compared with.
I don’t think Stephen understood the mystery of what exactly was happening when stone after stone was crushing down on him, and he was laying there bleeding to death barely able to say the words, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). The mystery happened to be a young man standing by the side watching closely while all this crowd was stoning him to death, and that man’s name was Saul, who later would be known as St. Paul.
In time and space, the God of wonderful, wonderful mystery is at work whether we can see it in the moment or not. May we not be satisfied with the voices out there that say, “Don’t worry about it. We don’t need anything else. We have all the right answers already!” No, this year let us press through until we know it’s no longer us, but it is God who is supernatural.
How Will You Press Through to God?
Leave a comment below about what areas you’re pressing through to God this year, and share your prayer for 2018, too.
Or share Dr. K.P.’s challenge with a friend on Facebook and let them know what you’re praying for this year, encouraging your friends to share their prayer for 2018 as well.