Friday, February 11, 2011

Successive Boxes

The Scriptures are written to tell us about God. Early in my Bible college days at Multnomah, I found that there were often different conservative views of the same Scripture passage, or the same Scripture book. Sometimes the different ideas were ones that I could discount as being a “bit out there”, but more often I became perplexed as I went over the same verses with someone and found their interpretation to be validly different than mine. Which was right?

Of course, I thought, mine was. But as God began to foster humility in me, I realized my right interpretation was no more likely to be accurate than my friend’s interpretation was. One of the things which I think helped me to develop more humility was that I was fairly provincial in my outlook. In 1973, when at Multnomah, I had been a Christian for just over a year. I had taken some correspondence courses from Moody, and had trained myself assiduously with my study Bible, the Scofield Reference Bible. Imagine my surprise when I found that there was so much more to learn and study and investigate.

By nature I am a voracious reader, not intimidated by reading. Already I had read original thoughts in many fields, Darwin’s Origin of Species, Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, and Hobbes’ Leviathan. But frankly there was so great a field before me that at first I found it bewildering. Fortunately, I sat under John G. Mitchell, The Walking Bible, and he shared with me his deep love of the Word of God, and it became a passion of mine.

Growing and being used by God were drives that pushed me into intense study, reading, and prayer, all of which were good. But it was not until I really came to reflect on the truth of God in His Word that I really began to look at myself. I believe the Holy Spirit convicted me, asking me whether I wanted to believe what God said and taught, or whether I was looking to the Bible to present my own views, as an excuse to validate me. The conviction was large and lingering, causing me to renew myself in study, to try to understand, but always to believe what He was saying.

I am not saying I have arrived, but it does make life so much easier with the philosophy: God says it, I believe it, and that’s all there is to it. Much of my Bible doctrine has had to be rearranged, some of it thrown out. I do assure you that is not easy on my ego, but I believe it is a mark of growing maturity. Of course, as says 2 Tim. 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” But I found first I must plea with God to show me his intent, to let me set aside my views, and to simply believe what it is that He tells me. With this attitude the next verse more readily comes true: “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” And I grow a bit, uncovering the mysteries of God.

And that is one of the wonderful things about being immersed in the Word. My life goes along and I grow a bit in my appreciation of God. As I grow I think anew of God and am amazed that He no longer fits in the box that I had constructed for Him. So, in my foolishness I build a new box, confident that this one will be big enough, only to find that God exceeds that one too.

I read recently a personal account of Mrs. Jonathan Edwards, speaking of her inexpressible happiness that seemed to come directly from heaven, to be eternal and unchangeable, insomuch that she found herself fainting under the intenseness of the feeling. I, too, have experienced many times of walking so close to God that I imagine Him to be holding my hand, though I fainted not. I thought my experience to be rather singular, but am glad to say one of the good benefits of growing older, is finding that many many saints have similar experiences. I do wonder if the Christian walk is not partly finding out that our boxes are not yet big enough to fit God into; He is always more majestic than we can conceive. In the words of Lucy, we might well say, “Aslan, you are bigger.” Well might the Lord say to us as Aslan did to Lucy, “every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

What a glory it is to be called by His name! Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has mind conceived the things He has prepared for us. How majestic is His name in all the earth!