Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Excuse me, but your insides are hanging out!

Imagine with me that your walking through the streets of your town. As you walk, you begin to notice that some folks are looking at you strangely. The farther you walk, the more folks keep looking at you. You don't wonder about yourself. You know there's nothing wrong with you. You're not sure what's gotten into these people, but they have problems. You decide to ignore their stares.

Finally, a kindly old gentleman approaches you. He begins to speak to you in a nice, but concerned manner. His words strike you as strange, for what he says is, "Excuse me, but your insides are hanging out." You're offended at first, but your automatic reaction is to look down. Sure enough, your insides are hanging out!

You are stunned! Fear takes a hold of you. You begin to feel weak and dizzy. Your breathing becomes rapid and shallow. But, the old man, places gentle hands on your shoulders, looks you in the eyes, and says, "It's OK. I'm a doctor. Let's get you into this hospital over here and we'll fix you right up.

Does this sound ludicrous to you? Of course. Yet, millions of people every day do just what you were doing in the above story: they walk around with their insides hanging out. Not physically, to be sure. But, all of our inner lives are on full display for all the world to see everyday. It's obvious by our actions and speech (remember, "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh", Jesus said.) to any who care to look closely, what we truly believe.

Proverbs 23: 7a "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..."

Our actions always follow our emotions. Our emotions always follow our beliefs. Our beliefs always follow our thoughts. Who we are on the inside is- quite literally, who we are! 

This is why the scriptures warn us to think only on godly things and, in this way, to guard our hearts. If our thought life is in line, then our beliefs will be in line. If our beliefs are in line, then our emotions will be in line. If our emotions are in line, then our actions will be in line. 

As an example, lets look at Saul's life. 

King Saul's story begins in 1 Samuel 9. We find him out looking for his fathers donkeys with a servant. His father, according to verse 1, was a "mighty man of power." His father evidently was a man of some financial means, as he owned animals and had multiple servants. With money comes power. So, he was an influential man, as well. 

Saul, was a young man who seemed to have his life planned out ahead of him- beautifully! Grow up in wealth and prestige. Take over the family biz. Grow that wealth and prestige. But, the Lord God had other plans.

Israel had lived in a theocracy for hundreds of years. But, Israel wanted to be like everyone else and have a king. So, the Lord looks around and chooses Saul. He doesn't allow Saul to find the animals. He gets him so frustrated that Saul goes looking for the judge/prophet Samuel to learn where the animals were.

This is where Saul's life takes a sudden turn. Like Saul, most of the time, when God wishes to call us into a different direction, it seems he reaches into our everyday lives to work things to get our attention and point us in a different way. 

Saul is told that God is calling him to be King over Israel. Talk about unqualified! From herding animals to leading a nation- Oh what a change. God equips him by filling him with his spirit to strengthen and guide Saul in his new duties. God gave him a great start! 1 Samuel 10: 9-10)

Saul is a bold man, if nothing else. We've already been told of the wealth and prestige his Father had. Yet, he has the audacity to LIE to God's prophet about who he is in society: 21"And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?"

He's a liar who suffers from low self esteem- as most liars do. Already, his insides (who he really is) are beginning to show. To top that off, on the day of his coronation, Saul is nowhere to be found. Where is he? He's out "hiding amongst the stuff." (1 Samuel 10: 22) He doesn't want the responsibility God has given him. More of his insides were hanging out. 

How many of us RUN from the call of God on our lives because we don't want the responsibility, nor do we desire the necessary change in our lives. So, we hide in the stuff of life. We get caught up in entertainment, our jobs, finances, parties, status, etc. All the while, God has a job for us to do that will benefit many other people- IF we will submit.  

Later, he is told to wait on Samuel to come and sacrifice before he goes off to war. Samuel is late. Some of his men begin to leave him. Saul's lack of faith in the God who called him, his looking to others to validate his self esteem, and his impatience come rapidly to the surface. He steps out of his God-given role and tries to stand in Samuel's role. He performs the sacrifices.

As he's cleaning up his mess, Samuel comes. God requires obedience and listening to him MORE than he requires sacrifice. Saul's lack of letting God change him costs him dearly. He fulfills the ritual, in the wrong way. 

He should have been praying and seeking God all along. When he was hiding in the stuff, he should have been asking for God's direction. Instead of religion and ceremony, he should have sought relationship. 

Due to his bad insides, he has a bad ending. He loses his kingdom and loses out with God. 

Saul was placed under immense pressure. This pressure caused the real him to come out for all the world to see. 

Like Saul, God calls us- even with our bad insides hanging out. But, if we don't enter into relationship with him and allow God to change our insides, we will lose our promises and lose out with God as well. 

Let us be like David: "Create in me a clean heart, Oh Lord, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, Oh Lord. Take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me all the joy of thy salvation."