FOR ALL ARE THY SERVANTS
BY: FRED PRUITT
MARCH 18, 2004
89] For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
90] Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.
91] They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.
You find you really do become nothing but prayer.
Back in my beginning days in a Pentecostal church, I heard about “having a burden for souls,” and that was up there in my top ten list of the things I wanted the Lord to “give me.” Somehow by grace I had found that the topmost was God Himself – “as the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after thee O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps 42:1) That was, so I thought, “for me,” to satisfy “me.”
But this other thing, this “burden for souls,” well, I didn’t know it at the time, but that was for “me,” too, after a sort (to make “me” more “spiritual” and “closer” to God), but of course even through that veil of self it was really the desire of the Spirit welling up in me to form Christ in me and to reproduce Himself and His Life in others by means of “me.”
But my problem at the time was that I was hearing all these testimonies about people getting a “burden for souls” and they’d tell about waking up in the middle of the night, praying with tears for people, or praying & praying for hours and hours til they got the victory. Everybody was especially big on tears. Tears pretty much showed you had the burden.
That kind of “prayer” really never got hold of me. First of all, the other boys had called me “Crybaby!” when I got hurt in football in the 4th grade (age 9), and since that time I’d laid firm hold of male stoicism, which is inherently preventative to tears. So to develop the quality (of crying while praying) at the very least required me trying really, really hard to work it up. Being a good Pentacostal who wanted “to be the best I could be in Christ Jesus” – that was what our pastor vowed to make us if we would obey his teaching – he must’ve been praying one night while a US Army commercial was on TV when he came up with his motto – anyway, being that good churchy boy that I was, and I really was pretty good at being churchy, I tried and tried and tried to become a “prayer warrior” and to “pray without ceasing.”
Change of subject (I’m promised this will resolve at the end) –
A lot of my life has been determined by the things I have feared. Fears faced usually have brought at least some sort of Waterloo that led hopefully to a “good” resolution.
Fears not faced usually prolong some situation, often making things seemingly “worse” by the inertia which accompanies fear, since fear often makes you frozen in your tracks, unable to move as destruction seems headed right down on your head. (Running away is often not a sign of fear, but of good sense.)
Or at least so it would seem. While I might be tempted to think that my life has been “determined by the things I have feared,” the scriptures say otherwise. They say in many ways, that all my steps are ordered of the Lord, that He has preordained good works for me, He has known “me” with infinite thoughts toward particularly “me,” and in a multitude of other ways God lets us know He steps with us and in us and as us in every step we take. There is no separation from Him if He knows us.
Now, here we start to get folks stirred up maybe, because if I begin to speak as if I’m a “predestinationist” or a “sinless perfectionist,” or some other “ism” or “ist,” then bells and whistles go off in lots of people’s minds, and everybody is tempted to get out their “doctrinal hats” to stick on their heads and then r’ar back (that’s a southern US term and if you don’t know what it means let me know) and get ready to see if they can agree with the next thing I say.
The mystery is killing me. Because I don’t know what I’m going to say next, either.
I don’t know what the Pharoahs of the world experience. It is plain in scripture that God hardened Pharoah’s heart to oppose Moses in order to bring about the Exodus, just as it is plain that even though Reuben and all his brothers meant evil in selling Joseph into slavery, still God meant it for good to “save much people alive” and all the sons of Jacob the Cheater/Supplanter who, through no choice nor deeds of his own, only that God had said, “Jacob have I loved, Esau I have hated,” had his name changed to Israel – “He who would be prince with God,” and all his sons who sold Joseph into slavery nevertheless founded tribal dynasties, which are promised restoration at the Last Day. And even though Jacob’s name was changed by God to Israel, still from then on out Jacob and Israel are used interchangeably in scripture, to describe God’s people and their founder – He is the God of Jacob (Supplanter/Cheater) as much as He is the God of Israel (He who would be prince with God).
Somebody’s playing a real big trick on us here.
But like I said, I don’t know what went through Pharoah’s mind. I can’t begin to figure out for him what level of responsibility he had for his “own” choices. Paul pretty much shuts up that argument anyway, when he says, “How can the pot say to the potter, how could you have made me this way?”
He says in other places some vessels are appointed for honor and some for dishonor, some for glory and some for destruction. Before Jacob or Esau were born, He (GOD) said he hated one, and loved the other. You just can’t argue with it.
Ok, now here’s where I start saying the opposite of what I’ve just written above, and tell you that it just depends on which wagon you hitch your team to. I mean, there’s the grace wagon and there’s the “I’ll be my own god” wagon. And Paul says that, too. “Hey, gang, everything is God doing it, but oh by the way, you are responsible for your life and what you choose and which way you go.”
The grace wagon doesn’t know that other side of things. I’ll say it again. I don’t understand Pharoah’s deal. I don’t understand Judas’ deal. I don’t know why Jezebel became Jezebel and Ahab her husband was the most wicked king of Israel. But Jezebel and Ahab brought forth Elijah the Tishbite, and his spiritual son Elisha.
What I’m trying to say is that I can’t write a textbook answer to this responsibility dilemma, because I have no cognizance of what that means. From the perspective of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Grace, there is no responsibility question, because we find ourselves only in Him, He living as ourselves, without the least shade of separation, and this not of ourselves, by anything we have thought or done or even believed or chosen, but by mercy and grace as a gift, so that by grace we choose Him as we have been chosen in Him before the foundation of the earth, and we know no other will nor life except, “My meat is to do the will of Him who sent me, and finish His work.”
How did we come by this? We do not know! I don’t know why I read “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee” (Ps 91:7), and believe it, and others don’t. I don’t know why that is.
Which brings me back to prayer. These days God has me going three times a week to “cardio-rehab.” So this morning I went in and according to the charts, it was time for my upgrade to the next level – longer periods of exercise. So I do the treadmill first, which I like because the first exercise and the last you have to do three minutes warm up and cool down, and I like spending more time on the treadmill than the bikes, which I generally don’t like. So I’m doing the treadmill, looking into the mirror in front of me, which enables me not only to see myself but everybody else in the room, too, and then prayer just fills me up, and I’m almost weeping (have to do it inwardly because they’d get concerned if they saw somebody weeping at cardio-rehab, unlike at the Pentecostal church), because I’m praying about everything, naming everything before me going on in my life as Christ manifesting Himself, and then looking around the room, one by one I saw them and saw them in Christ, and pronounced God’s blessings on each one as the Spirit gave it to me in the moment. The “prayer life” I sought all those years ago, thinking somehow it was something to which I could attain, just is spontaneously the Life of the Spirit in me every day. It was then, too, but I didn’t know it yet.
I saw a man on Oprah this afternoon, just caught the last minute or so of his interview. He apparently had been talking about how substance abuse, I think alcohol, had destroyed his life, and how he had been very wealthy, worth some $20 million, and had lost everything because of his addiction and had been reduced to doing custodial work and cleaning other people’s toilets just to get by.
Oprah asked him how could he bear that, and the man had really the most absolutely wonderful answer. He said, “I had to lose everything, Oprah, and I had to clean other people’s toilets. I lived because of it.”
You are nothing but prayer because every moment is God creating anew the universe and You are His Son whom He eternally begets THIS day, and you are the Light of your world and the salt of your earth.
And all those which appear as your enemies, whether outwardly or inwardly, your “negatives,” your thorns in the flesh, your Egyptians, whatever term you give them, are to a man servants of the Lord and do His will. It does not matter what the flesh looks like. It does not matter. We do not live of the flesh, are not of the flesh, and do not see after the flesh. We see only Life, and only the building up of the Kingdom of God. When you are His, everything He intends toward you is Life for you for others… Everything. No enemy can harm you, dissuade you, prevent you, or discourage you, because He has chosen You, and seen You in Him before the foundation of the earth, and no one can thwart His will.
This gives us a great freedom, but it is the only freedom that matters, because it is the freedom of needing no protection nor safety nets for ourselves, and the very fearful freedom of having no presumption of assured rescue, we are nonetheless free to go into hell itself as God leads to deliver the captives.
That’s the only “side” to any question that I see. I don’t see any other “side” except the Living God Who is All in all.
Make peace with thine adversary quickly – and then you see clearly what comes next.
89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
90 Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.
91 They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.
FOR ALL ARE THY SERVANTS [Fred Pruitt] 3-18-04 1