Hiding the Word:
It’s the first full day of Spring Break for us and my kids were up early. My oldest daughter announced that one of her friends plans to “sleep all day” for spring break. “How boring!” she said.
My kids plan to pack in as much activity as possible.
So, it wasn’t even 8 a.m. yet when one of my girls was inspired to start singing. She pulled out a travel CD of Bible songs that Grammy gave them a few Christmases ago and popped it into the CD player in her bedroom. I started hearing the chorus of “Deep and Wide” emanate through the house . . . loudly. This daughter of mine always sings with passion.
Inspired, my baby girl ran into the playroom and pulled out the entire plastic drum of instruments. The harmonica was humming, the cymbals crashing, the sleigh bells jingling, the clackers clacking, the triangle jingling. Yes, even the kazoo was buzzing.
It was an early morning symphony of praise in my tiny house and it may have sounded like pots and pans at times down here. To God, though, it’s spontaneity and passion must have sounded beautiful.
We are preparing to enter the Passion Week, the time when we remember Good Friday when Christ died for us and Resurrection Day when He conquered death and the grave. When Jesus entered Jerusalem for that final week, the people filled the air with waving palm branches and shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:13).
They shouted praise to Him because of false expectations and misplaced excitement. They didn’t praise Him for being a Savior, for laying down His own life to provide redemption for their sins.
No, they hailed Him as a conqueror, rebel, and over-thrower of the earthly kingdoms. When they realized that’s not what He was doing, they mostly abandoned Him. The palm branches stopped waving. The people stopped shouting “Hosanna” and started shouting “Crucify Him.”
My praise can be tainted by misplaced expectations also.
So, this week, I am meditating on a verse that reminds me to praise God when He behaves the way I expect and when He doesn’t. It’s my hope to sing praise to God with the passionate simplicity of children crooning with their Bible songs CD and clanging together toy instruments.
It seems appropriate to prepare for the Passion Week with praise:
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together! (Psalm 34:1-3 ESV)
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.” 2 Cor. 13:15
Twelve disciples, one Savior, reclined and relaxed, celebrating Passover together in an Upper Room. Thirteen share in a meal of remembrance that they would always remember and that we continue to remember. The Last Supper. Communion. “Do this in remembrance of me.”
Together they have eaten and laughed, declared “For His mercy endures forever” and sung hymns in worship. They are jovial, anticipatory, expecting Christ’s triumph in Jerusalem.
Jesus leans in, “While they were eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me’ (Matthew 26:21, NLT).
Silence. Stillness. Seriousness.
If Jesus said this at the end of a church service today and the pianist played the quiet first notes of the closing hymn, many of us would be nudging our neighbor or making concerted efforts NOT to stare at the person across the room. (Or, perhaps, making lunch plans and quieting the rumbles in our stomachs.) It’s you, it’s you, it’s you—we might think. That sermon is for you! That heaviness of the Holy Spirit—it’s for you! I’ve seen your sin. I know your need to repent.
And yet, 12 disciples, “greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, ‘Am I the one, Lord?’” (Matthew 26:22, NLT).
Am I the one, Lord?
This seeking is our salvation. We ask the dangerous question and we allow the Holy Spirit to turn over our hearts and reveal our own true need to be at the altar and lay it down. Or the Holy Spirit searches, finds purity of heart, and invites us to pray for those around us still struggling.
It’s our complacency and satisfaction with our spiritual dwelling place that leads to our downfall. It’s when we stake our claim to land and decide we’ve traveled enough in this road to Christ that we edge our way to danger. I’m pure enough. Good enough. I’m not lukewarm. I’ve conquered the “big” sins. I read my Bible. I pray. I’m close to God. I have a strong ministry.
I’m good. Right here, in this place, I’m good here.
But this journey to Christ is ongoing. As long as we are alive on this planet, we are imperfect creatures in need of an ever-closer intimacy with our Savior.
This moving to Christ requires moving away from something else. It’s a necessity of the road. In order to go forward, we must leave something behind.
That was true for Israel. God called them to Canaan when He beckoned Abram out of Mesopotamia and its many gods and idols. God called them back to the Promised Land when He led them out of Egypt and they left slavery for freedom.
They walked towards promise, but it involved rejection—rejecting the old definition of “normal.” It was “normal” for those in Abram’s home town to pray to statues and worship bits of stone and wood. It was “normal” in Egypt for male babies to be slaughtered simply for population control.
It’s “normal” for us to be too busy for God, to lose it with our kids, to be selfish, to feel jealousy, to cheat, to lie, to overindulge , to worry, to rebel, to gossip. . . We think these sins are acceptable because everyone does them and no one can be perfect.
Yet, God calls us out of “normal” and into radical. He doesn’t ask us the hard questions to shame us or humiliate us. He does it to draw us close to Him so that we are “being transformed . . .from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NKJV).
Eugene Peterson wrote, “Repentance, the first word in Christian immigration, sets us on the way to traveling in the light. It is a rejection that is also an acceptance, a leaving that develops into an arriving, a no to the world that is a yes to God.”
Peter sat at that Passover table and asked the dangerous question, “Am I the one, Lord?” He allowed the searching of his heart. It wasn’t him. Eleven of those at the table endured their souls being turned over and could say that they were innocent of this betrayal.
Yet, then they stopped asking. That’s our weakness, too. When we stop asking the Holy Spirit to search us, when we become complacent and self-assured, it’s when we will betray.
Like Peter. Jesus predicted Peter would deny Him. “Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crowd, you will deny Me three times.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ And so said all the disciples” (Matthew 26:33-35, NKJV).
But, he was wrong. Jesus arrested. Jesus taken away in chains. Jesus bullied, beaten, spat on, and mocked. Peter in the courtyard answering the questioning accusations of others by the fire. “I never knew the fellow. I wasn’t one of his disciples. I didn’t follow Him.”
He stumbled into betrayal because he was complacent. Peter thought he knew what was in his heart, that he was right with God and strong in his faith. So, he stopped asking, “Am I the one, Lord?” and started saying, “Not I.”
And so we must ask and keep on asking, “Search my heart, search my soul. There is nothing else that I want more. Shine Your light and show Your face. In my life, Lord, have Your way, have Your way” (Hillsong United).
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2012 Heather King