No voices. No visitations. But hey, there’s still a couple of days left. While I didn’t have a lot of goals for my vacation, I was hoping to get a little clarity. On what? Not even clear on that. But while I’ve tried to be still, and have tried to engage in conversation, and have tried to be quiet and listen, no voices, no visitations. But then again, that’s never really been my normative experience.
But maybe there was a bit of an encounter of the divine kind as I hovered over the first part of the fifth chapter of Ephesians this morning. It was the verbs that caught my attention . . .
. . . be imitators of God, as beloved children. . . . and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. . . . Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, . . . but understand what the will of the Lord is.
(Ephesians 5:1, 10, 15, 17 ESV)
So . . . whaddya’ do when you don’t know quite what to do? Well, nearest I can gather (with a bit of handy-dandy online lexicon work), is that there are three things I am to try and do and one thing I’m commanded to do.
I need to try to discern what’s pleasing to the Lord. “Figure out what will please Christ,” according to Peterson in the Message, “and then do it.” The idea here is not of just writing down in my journal all that pleases the Lord, but of actually engaging in some of those things and testing what lane the Lord wants me to swim in.
A servant can’t do everything that pleases his Lord, but everything we do as servants of the Master should be with an eye to that which is “fully agreeable” to Him. We need to be intentional about figuring that out. As the old saying goes, “You can’t steer a parked car.” And, while God is not bound by my inactivity, Jesus did say that if we ask, seek, and knock, then it will be given, be found, and be open. We do, seeking to discern, and He directs, as He has decided.
Moreover, while I’m being a “moving car”, I need to be so carefully. Circumspectly, says the NKJV. Watching my step. Just like a cat along the top of a fence. Mindfully, exactly, accurately, putting one paw in front of the other. I am to move forward, and I’m to do it wisely. If I find myself lacking wisdom, the Spirit says, “Ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). But while I’m to be careful while I’m seeking to be wise, I don’t stop walking. I keep moving forward, trusting the Lord to lead. Confident that for those who faithfully pursue pilgrimage, He will faithfully lead them on their journey.
Thirdly, as I seek to discern, as I determine to walk carefully, I am also to do my best to understand what the will of the Lord is. I’m to bring together the facts and data of life around me and draw some conclusions as to what God’s asking of me as I seek to follow Him. The puzzle pieces are all there. Mine, with the help of the indwelling Spirit, is to intentionally consider and comprehend His will for me, as I work out, with fear and trembling, my salvation for Him–“for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Php. 1:12-13).
Ok. No voices. No visitations. But this is speaking to me.
And then, this little gem. While I am exhorted to discern, walk carefully, and understand, I am commanded to imitate. The first three I pursue with a holy determination to the best of my ability and through the enabling of the promised Spirit. But Paul uses the imperative form of the verb when he says, “Be imitators of God” . . . in essence, I think, he kind of says, “Fake it, until you make it.”
Not be fake. But just like little children often will copy the actions of their parents–whether it’s little boys pretending to shave like their dads or little girls putting on makeup like their moms, or a kid pretending to drive a car just like their parents do–we are to mimic how God would act until He is more fully formed in us through the conforming of our nature to the nature of His blessed Son.
Be imitators, says Paul. Spend enough time in God’s word to know how God loves, and graces, and forgives, and comforts, and encourages, and then, even if it don’t come natural (or supernatural) yet, do it . . . just like He would do it.
And, as we imitate God while we do our best to discern what pleases Him, and take our best shot at walking carefully so He can steer us, and desiring with our whole hearts to know His will for lives–while we’re doing our best, He’s taking care of the rest. Shaping within us the image of His Son, make straight paths for our feet, bearing His fruit through us while we seek but to abide in Him.
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, says Jesus, and everything else will come (Matt 6:33).
Mine is to believe it.
Imitate God, by His grace, and the direction will come. Do what Jesus would do, through His Spirit’s ever-present enabling, and the way will be made known.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make straight your paths.
(Proverbs 3:6 ESV)
It’s the way of grace. And I’m thinkin’ it will bring Him glory.