“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Your LOOK at God triggers God’s LOOK on you
There is a popular saying that goes: “If you’re still looking for that one person who can change your life, take a look in the mirror.” There’s is some truth there, except if that was absolutely true, many people would have been deeply changed by now. Instead of looking at yourself for deep change, how about looking to Jesus? We are fallen vessels living in a fallen world. Depending on ourselves for such a weighty task usually doesn’t get us the results we really need in the long term.
I’m not saying that God doesn’t look at you if you don’t acknowledge his existence. I’m talking about God’s LOOK on you. There is a look from God that recognizes faith and certainty as God peers, reaches and orchestrates days from futures past. When we stare at the Abyss, the Abyss stares into you, bringing out the worse in you. When we stare into Jesus, we are transformed into His likeness. When you look to God in a positive way and with childlike expectancy, God looks at you and recognizes this as Faith. When faith is recognized, the wheels of breakthrough start turning.
To expand on our previous post, what you choose to believe when you look at him is of great importance. This is because the beginnings of powerful miracles or breakthroughs seem to always come concurrently when his children look to God and believe He is for them (Rom 8:31). When we look to Jesus in adoration (your LOOK) of what He has and will do, God looks to you and sees faith as well as the New You in the future (His LOOK).
When we look at Jesus we visualize a New You in a New Country. We see the You in the future. Your circumstances have changed for the better, and you are also fearfully and wonderfully changed. We talked about how past trauma, emotional scars, a distrust of humanity, post-modernist notions that there is no objective truth, condemnations, repeated failures and debilitating diseases all make up some of the elements within the Abyss that lends it it’s power to pull you closer and ensnare. To the world, these things ensnare you, but do you know that God promises to use all of those things the enemy intended to ensnare you with as building blocks to get you where you need to be? He did that with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph. He promises to do it for you (Gal 3). He can take the garbage of our lives and make meaning art with it.
You should see a New You, because God sees you differently from how you see yourself.
Take a look at what I call the Gideon Simulation.
After God allows Israel to be taken by the Midianites for seven years, God addresses Gideon as a “mighty man of valor!” (Jgs 6:12, KJV). However, the Bible records that at the time of being described by God that way, Gideon was far from it! He, cowardly, was found threshing wheat by the wine-press to “hide it from the Midianites” (Jgs 6:11). Gideon had to have known how cowardly he was. Not only did he ask for multiple signs as a confirmation that God was with him, when Gideon finally started to do the ‘noble’ and ‘valorous’ tasks God assigned (which was to take down his father’s alter of Baal and build an altar to the Lord – an extremely small task for someone who is supposed to lead Israel from the Midianites), he did not have the champion-like courage to do it in the day time! In anti-climactic fashion, he revealed his true colors doing it by night, “because he feared his father’s household” (Jgs 6:27, KJV). In addition, when Gideon wondered of the Lord: “if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us?” (Jgs 6:13, KJV), the Lord’s reply is astonishing:
And the LORD looked upon him, and said, “Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?” (Jgs 6:14, KJV, emphasis mine)
Even though Gideon was obviously unaware and uninitiated, God saw Gideon as a mighty man of valor and had already been, if not, then in the process of being, called. This passage shows God’s foreknowledge, and suggests that God is shaping / has shaped Gideon’s path.
God spoke as though the future was captured (determined) just as the past was. This concept is apparent when God tells Deborah and Barak, “Have not the LORD gone ahead of you?” (Jgs 4:14); or when God tells Joshua “He hath given you this land” (Josh 1:13, YLT) before Joshua even starts the conquering on it. God was just telling Deborah and Joshua what he is doing right now (in Deborah’s or Joshua’s present timeframe) in God’s own timeframe of eternity.
The preface of Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible states:
No other kind of rendering [between Hebrew and English] could place the reader in the same mindset of the Biblical Hebrew authors:
That the Hebrews were in the habit of using the past tense to express the certainty of an action taking place, even though the action might not really be performed for some time. And
That the Hebrews, in referring to events which might be either past or future, were accustomed on the principle of transferring themselves mentally to the period and place of the events themselves, and were not content with coldly viewing them as those of a bygone or still coming time; hence the frequent use of the present tense.
God promises that the future is captured for you – in a good way. There is meaning, purpose and love there. As strong as the Abyss’ pull is, so strong and certain is the New Country. And that certain journey to the New Country will develop the New you. Fear to be replaced by courage. Unforgiveness replaced by love. Bitterness replaced by grace. Curses replaced by blessings. Prosperity in all things, just as your soul prospers (3 John 1:2).
See God WORKING with you and behind the scenes in our journey
God sees the New You, and is shaping your path. He is taking your things of old that has tried to shape you, to box you in; and is re-shaping that to get you to your person of valor. The enemy could try to imprison you with past trauma, failures, lies that you won’t make it, condemnations. They are like sides of a paper box. God can disassemble that box, and fold into a crane like origami for you to soar on.
He promises that “in all things” God is working for your good (Rom 8:28). Good things, bad things. Mistakes of others. Mistakes by you.
Mistakes of others. What the enemy has intended for evil, God can use it to fulfill His glorious plan for you (Gen 50:20). Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and others, and then thrown into a dungeon for years. God used all of it to make him a governor of Egypt where he then proceeded to save Egypt as well as his brothers who betrayed him. God can use the mistakes of others for his glory in your life.
Mistakes by You. Even your honest mistakes can be used by redemptive power of God to move you closer to a greater destiny. Under grace, your mistakes are forgiven; and even your present weaknesses God can use for glory. Abraham had the promise of grace, just like you. He was not under Law, just like you. Because of moral failings, he lied to foreign kings and was willing to give up his wife to their harems. Incredibly, God used both incidences to enrich Abraham. He became richer and one step closer to being a father of nations (which is what God promised). You can say that grace worked (Rom 8:28) in his circumstances to propel him further.
This is what the psalmist meant when he said that “surely goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life” (Ps 23). When you look to your Jesus as shepherd, this is what happens. Goodness and mercy are God’s instruments to actively shape your direction and shape your heart. He does this while already knowing the final outcome. What a comfort knowing that there is a Master Artist that is shaping you as piece of art while already having the final product in mind?
By no means am I saying you will be living a “bed of roses”. In fact, that illustration never made sense to me, I’d wind up with a butt-full of thorns and scratches. If ease and luxury is what I wanted, I’d prefer a bed of cotton candy money. It’s soft to sleep on, edible, and I’d be rich. Returning to topic, the world is already very fallen. The prince of this world is actually the devil. The journey can be long, arduous, painful and unfair. These negative forces can be very active in your journey. God doesn’t promise to give you a life devoid of negative forces, but He does promise to actively work for your good with heavenly tools. Hence, the sojourner doesn’t experience a neutral, empty existence, but a dynamic battle between good and evil, joys and pains. The extent of their diametrically opposed magnitude may reduce a believer to feel like a ragged doll at times, but the ultimate good will win out. It will envelop that which is evil, and what was meant for evil turns into meaning. Initially, the way given by God may not make sense, it may seem lonely and even filled with negativity. But trust that it is temporary. There is something to learn from there to take you into a better place in the future.
Evil: I was cursed by the fallen nature of the world – a sickness that was debilitating. Overtime, doctors more or less gave up hope of a real solution. Good: God reversed my situation and gave me wisdom and spirit to maintain my health – outside of the doctors advice or treatment plan.
Evil: Though well-liked by bosses, because of health reasons, I was forced to quit as an engineer, and then quit as a teacher, and finally be out of the job market for 5 years. In both careers, I was outstanding in creativity. In the first year of engineering, I spotted a solution no one noticed and saved the company about $15K a month. In my time at teaching, I was voted by students as one of the best physics lecturers. God was present even at those times to give me “diamonds” to remind He was there, although the path I had was still into darkness. But in the end, those diamonds seemed to mean nothing as my body could not catch up. 10 years of work, and nothing to show for it. Good: God “hacked” my career by giving me insight into the stock market at the exact right time and a business idea that propelled me “back into the game”. The best part is that He did so when I was isolated in my “cave” of pain unable to function in society. He helped me succeed when I have no right to succeed. I was so limited in my comings and goings, yet supernaturally I met just the right people that gave me the right support (even if they didn’t know it). So even when no one would want to hire me based on a broken resume, God totally made up for it financially by giving me an out-of-the-box solution. It was that ONE way. I only had ONE way. I had limited contacts, limited resources and limited and decreasing health. But that ONE way was better than I expected and filled with meaning. It makes my current situation as a financial analyst, stock trader, market intelligence researcher and data analytics role (with time to stopover in seminary) so much more of a miracle.
Evil: Inevitability, even part of the church, that I loved dearly, treated me with indifference and irrelevance. This sadly compounded on the already monstrously big existential struggle I was having with pain, loneliness and hopeless (no cure). The world wasn’t too kind in dealing with people with situations that are not easy to understand. Good: God allows us to forgive and look past people’s shortcomings because we partake of His Grace. Grace overpowers condemnation. If people can’t understand you, you can understand them. If people don’t reach out to you, we can reach out to them. If the world is unfriendly, write a book to add value to it. If the world can’t understand who you are, God gives us the strength and conviction to tell them.
In all the “evil” parts of my journey, I was uncomfortable with the idea. What on earth is God doing? I couldn’t see how it could make sense. But the real question is, “What in heaven is God doing?” Because God’s eyes sees a whole lot more and in different dimensions than our own. We will have losses. We will seem to lose many battles. But God promises we win the war.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
This dynamically polarizing process is to develop Kings and Priests, the true expression of who you should be on earth. As kings, you are victorious in your station in life (reign in life), secure in your responsibilities and you move the world (the world doesn’t move you). As priests, you have a heart for God, and you have a heart for people.
A Quick Word on Repentance – Change your mind… to WHO GOD IS.
Seeing Jesus in the right way is the starting point to experience biblical faith and hope. God looks at you and smile. The hope emanating doesn’t disappointment (Rom 5). These are the forerunners of good things coming your way. This is Salvation (greek: souzo) working through you.
In fact, the word Repentance (greek: metanoia μετάνοια, ας, ἡ) literally means a change of mind. It’s a change of mind of who you think God is, what He will do for you and how He sees you. It is only possible to view God when contrasted to the world and the enemy. Trying to describe God without a basis of human experience is practically useless. Thinking God is big inevitably means the enemy is small. Thinking God is powerful means that the world’s forces and statistics are not the be-all and end all. Change your mind about God which invariably means changing your mind about the world as well. God loves unconditionally, the world doesn’t. Your relationship doesn’t change with God because you stray, the world spits you out when you have no use. God wants to love you uniquely and fulfill your destiny, the world is a deterministic monster that wants to reduce you to a statistic. Almost every miracle has been proceeded by this “repentance”. Why could Joshua and Celeb enter the promised land? Because they thought God was for them. Why couldn’t the rest of the spies enter? Because they thought God was out to toy with them and let them die. It had everything to do with what they saw when they saw God, not to do with righteous behavior. When you believe right, you will live right. When you see things right and put God, people, the world, yourself in the correct prospective, you are on your way to victory.
When you see God (the LOOK) the right way, you see who you were meant to be; the world now looks very different – the positions and functions of God, the world, people, the enemy all shift. There is a tension between who you are now and who and where you were meant to be. God also works to help you get there. This is the start of your journey. He works… and you walk. When you finally get to your destination (the New Country), God has also fully moved into you and both worlds you once knew (the Old and New Country) will all look different… they will be better.
Please continue to the next chapter: Working through your Abyss with Jesus (Part 3): Real Progress requires Divinely Inspired Fundamental Changes.