FILLING in the SPACES
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
MAY 5, 2014
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“and to know for yourselves that love so far above our understanding. So will you be filled through all your being with God himself!” (Eph. 3:19, RSV).
This interesting title came to me several times recently, letting me know there was to be a writing. I asked the Lord what spaces He meant. There was no verbal answer but several things came to mind. The world is in a chaotic state right now with wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters like the mud slide in Washington, wildfires in California, floods in Florida, horrific, deadly accidents like the ferry which sank off the coast of South Korea, and the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian flight 370 taking with it 239 souls. In a world which prides itself on technology and superior engineering ability, these events cause many of us to wonder, “How could this happen in 2014?” People have always been worried about dangerous situations, how to recognize them, how to cope with them, and how to survive them.
The prophets of old often handed out dire warnings to get the people to repent; some of them also would burst forth from the gloomy prognostications with comforting words. Isaiah’s declarations of God’s love and care for His people were no doubt comforting to Israel and they certainly are to me. I especially love this one found in Isa. 43:2: “When you go through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not go over you: when you go through the fire, you will not be burned; and the flame will have no power over you” (BBE). I view that as God’s promise, “I’ve got you covered, no matter what.” I cling to it when the tornado warnings are coming at us hot and fast, as they were last week.
Technology is a wonderful gift, which I utilize everyday. Last year, I bought a NOOA Weather Radio which broadcasts local weather 24/7. Hearing it over and over is mind numbing, so I muted it. It will break in loud enough to wake the dead if there is a severe weather alert.
This year, all the local stations offered to send text alerts to our phones in case of severe thunderstorms or tornados. ‘Tis the season in Missouri for really bad weather, so I added those to my phone. However, so far, it has turned out to be an overkill. One local weatherman advises us all to take cover if a tornado is even suspected anywhere near us. The problem with that is, most of the time, since the area the local TV stations cover is so large, they can’t narrow it down to exactly where we live. Add to that the frustrating problem that GPS cannot locate the exact location of our farm. Last week alone I would have spent many hours down in the musty fruit cellar in the basement, had I gone there every time he advised us to go, when in reality, we didn’t even get a drop of rain. Daddy used to hustle us out of bed in the middle of the night when the thunderstorms would fire up, and hurry us down there. That was an adventure and we were all together, but it’s not a very nice place to be alone at night. My kitties love to go down there and search for mice, but that’s the extent of the comfort they can offer in the fruit cellar.
The bottom line is that technology just can’t cut it in the safety and protection department. Add to that the inclination to “lock the barn door after the horses have been stolen,” and you get much ado about nothing most of the time.
As I was pondering this enigmatic title, it came to me that only God can fill all the empty spaces in our lives, our thoughts, our fears, our ideas, and even our doctrines, if we have any left. David knew this, which is why the Psalms have comforted and buoyed up millions of God’s people. “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Ps. 18:2).
If any of you out there worry that you might be kidnapped by aliens (think flying saucers), David even spoke to that: “Rescue me from the cruel sword, and deliver me from the hand of aliens, whose mouths speak lies, and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood” (Ps. 144:11). OK, that’s silly, yet I hear from a reader regularly who believes in extra-terrestrial aliens wreaking havoc in our world. I remember telling him once that I didn’t believe it to be the case, but IF it were, then God is still in control of all things in the Universe!
Here’s Jonathan Mitchell’s translation of Eph. 1:11: “Within and in union with Whom we were (or: are) also chosen (or: appointed) by lot (or: were made an allotted portion; or received an inheritance), being previously marked out (or: being before designated) in keeping with (or down from, corresponding to; in accord with) a before-placed (or: predetermined-by-setting-forth) aim and design of the One continuously operating (effecting; energizing) all things (or: the whole) in accord with (or: down from; in line with; in correspondence to) the deliberated purpose (intent; design; plan; determined counsel) of His will (or: resultant decision of His resolve; effect of His desire).” End Quote. God’s will is always supreme!
Paul wrote to Timothy, his young protégé, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen” (II Tim. 4:18). Notice how fear defeating and life affirming Jonathan Mitchell’s translation of that verse is:
“The Lord [= Yahweh or Christ] will continue dragging (or: drawing) me away from every harmful act (malicious or evil work) and will continue delivering me into the midst of the reign and kingdom – the one [having dominion] upon the heavens (or: into the realm of His activities and way of doing things: the one [exercising authority] upon, and which can be compared to, the atmosphere) - which is from Him and belongs to Him, in Whom [is] the glory (or: for Whom [is] the reputation; by Whom [is] the manifestation of that which calls forth praise; to Whom [is] the good opinion), on into the ages of the ages (or: into the principle ages which consummate all the ages; into the obscure time periods of the ages). It is so! (Amen).”
Human beings have many facets, many spaces which we fill with whatever strikes our fancy at the moment, from sports, to movies, TV shows, books, social media like Facebook, Twitter, and lots of other things. Many religious traditions condemn all of the above as not edifying to the soul, not bringing us closer to God. They mean well, of course, but even righteous looking religious practices can separate us from God. Back in the day, Lenny was song leader, Sunday School teacher, church treasurer, and whatever else they asked him to do. God said to him, “You are so busy working for me that you do not have time for ME.”
Jesus didn’t come to earth to be a big shot in the Temple worship, or to gain a reputation for being a great leader of men. It wasn’t the church authorities who gleaned wisdom from His teachings, but the common men and women. The extant church often leaves the impression that God is just waiting for us to do something worthy of Him. Jesus said just the opposite:
“And so then I, if I should be lifted up from out of the earth (or: when I can be exalted forth from the midst of this Land), I will progressively drag [note: drag as with, or in, a net; or: draw, as drawing water with a bucket, or a sword out of a sheath] all mankind (or: everyone) to Myself” (John 12:32, Jonathan Mitchell).
God is not sitting in a rocking chair in some celestial home for aging gods waiting for us to do something. In this verse, and throughout the Bible, when God is the subject of the sentence, the verbs are active, not passive. He is always the prime mover in His relationship with men and women. Christ is a Super Hero, if you will, with Super Powers!
As I age, my abilities grow progressively less. His never diminish, nor has His mission statement ever changed. He still intends to drag all mankind, everyone, to Himself, eventually.
Father, we bow before Your throne in worship and praise as we contemplate Your plan for the cosmos You created, and for us, born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, but of God. As we wait for the restitution of all things, help us to see that You fill up all our empty spaces so that we may be light bearers and Good News bringers to all mankind. “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.” Amen.