The Hound and the Hart

The message of My song will always be true;
Mi corazon, my heart, belongs to you.

I am sitting here at my computer, listening to "Saviour: the Story of God's Passion for His People," trying to find the words for something which has been in my mind for some days now. Back in January I wrote a post about learning God's nature not only from the things he blesses us with, but also from the things he withholds from us. From the age of hellfire and brimstone, teaching has swung to the extreme of (shall I say?) an "overly" good God, one which is not holy but indulgent. Reality, not to mention Scripture, does not support this view of God, and I dealt with this in my own small way, in my own small soul, in my post in January. But my own thinking has not allowed me to stop even at that. On the one hand I have the things which God in his wisdom has seen fit to give me, on the other I have the things which God in his wisdom has seen fit to not give me. (It does not go without saying, for it is so uplifting to hear it, that all these things, given and not given, are done in the uttermost love as well as the uttermost wisdom.) I postulated with these two that one can learn something of God from them both, and this led me up against yet another fallacy of common thought.

My position in life (my twenty-one years of it) has allowed me a front-row view of people in the church. I am also rather a great listener, by virtue of being a bad orator, and I have heard many times people strain (with great conviction, and perfect sincerity) to "know the will of God" in their lives. At first you might suppose there is nothing wrong with that. And why not? Any God-fearing individual would naturally want to know his Father's will. But first off, as time went by, I noticed a curious specificity about this striving. I have seen high school students drive themselves to rags and shreds fretting about getting into the one college in accordance with God's will, as though there were something inherently sinful about all other colleges. I have seen people worry about getting a single job which God wants them to take, as if putting one's hand diligently and God-fearingly to any job was not what He wants. I am inclined to believe this rampant specificity about God's will a product of a society glutted with prosperity. There are so many options! What if we picked the wrong one?

While this is not the main thrust of my topic, I will deal with it for the sake of moving on. I am aware that people are willing to pray ardently for God to show them his will, and by all means, do pray! I have written a post on that, too. But I am told that there is a collection of written works that are God's revelation to his people, and I believe what I am told is true. And the more I believe that these works are God's revelation of himself by himself to his people, the more the grubby blue-covered book lying on the floor next to me takes on a fantastic aspect. God (let the definition of that sink in a moment) speaking in ink (a language I know well) to me (who am I?) in that book. God, taking the time, taking all time (literally) to sketch out his nature by lives and ink. I am not sure people really grasp the enormity of this gift. So many people, far from consulting this book which wrote itself, go instantly and rather ignorantly to their knees and implore God to show them what he wants them to do.

It is a very good thing that God is long-suffering, for we are shallow, stupid people, as a rule, but I think a lot of this stress of "doing what God wants" can be relieved by going and getting that manual and attending to it from time to time. If I had children (which I don't yet) and I wrote down on a paper what I wanted them to do while I was out (clean the bathrooms, sweep the kitchen, fold the laundry, etc.) and then came back only to find all those jobs undone and the children asking me piteously what I wanted them to do so that I might be happy with them, I should be put out instead. I left them instructions! In fact, I homeschooled them so that I could be sure they could read! In light of this analogy, it is a very good thing that God is long-suffering, for we very often go to him with piteous wails seeking to honour him and know his will without having taken the time to read his instructions. I read such very broad and general instructions in his manual, like praying for those in authority, and honoring one's father and mother, and building one another up, and living quiet and peaceable lives, and, in whatever we find our hands put to, doing all to the glory of God. So very broad, so very general; in fact, the sort of instructions that can thrive in any age, in any culture, in all time, with the ease of a ship passing through the sea. But no, Heaven help us, we are a practical lot, a materialistic, practical lot, and we must have out bullet-points and our outlines, for we feel very naked and vulnerable in the wide fields of God's freedom.

Now that I have said that I will approach my main point. It is all very well and good (and I mean that sincerely) to want to know the will of God. But what seems to be lost in the eagerness to turn faith into "religion" (this is an age-old and fatal eagerness) is a quiet but persistent plot-line in the Story of Redemption. It comes out sometimes, as in the backward memory of Eden, in a man like David, in Jeremiah's dictation of prophecy...in odd people like a Canaanite woman and a Roman Centurion. The plot-line, and the revelation, and what these people did, and ourselves should, really seek, is

the heart of God

I have this thought heavy in my own heart and I listen to this "Saviour" album, and the music seems only to echo my own thoughts. What good is there in flying higgledy-piggledy after someone's will (and someone so living-close to us as our Father) if we know not his heart? And when we know his heart, will we not also know his will? How many of us, rising in the morning and facing the future, think, "What is the heart of God?" rather than "What is God's will?" There is nothing wrong with asking the latter, but without the former it is devoid of that filial adoration incumbent upon God's children. If I seek the latter I am only a servant, only a servant, in the House. If I seek after the former I am child - and I can't tell you what doors open up at that thought through which I see glimpses of the most splendid, the most comfortable, the most living riches of my Father. There is such a sense of safety and belonging in seeking after the heart of God which fretting after his will cannot seem to ever give.

So I put this to you. In this whirlwind hunt of the Hound of Heaven and the hart that panteth after water, this hunt which goes round and round upon itself, be after God's own heart. Never fear. The Hound and the Hart will catch each other in the end.

8 ripostes:

  1. This is a thought that I have not had before. What a great idea! (Feeling like an insignificant human right about now! ;D ) I have so often asked God to show me His will, show me what He wants me to do, but seeking His heart encompasses so much more. :)

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  2. Dearheart, I love these glimpses from your own Valley of Vision, and I thank God that we run this whirlwind chase close together in spirit, if not always by measurable distance. You do my heart good.

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  3. It's really interestng that I read this today. I've been thinking so much about God's will as of recent, and how I know if I'm abiding by it properly. What a sagacious insight into the nature of God... the coarse of /our/ lives shouldn't surmount the scope of God's heart. At my Bible study the other week, someone said that, even if we do not follow his will, and go off doing something else, it is not the end of it all- we can be resumed onto the right path again, despite the detour. Perhaps the detour was important in itself in strengthening us for the rest fo God's will.
    Also, it says that God will give us the desires of /our/ heart, so, as long as our desires are to glorify him (as you said) perhaps just building up a picture of what we /want/ our future to be, and meditating on it, is better than fretting about whre we are going. God wouldn't lead us down a path that we are not strong enough for... so if we are struggling with what we are occupied in, perhaps it signals that this isn't God's will.
    You're quite right, Jenny... we needn't fret.

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  4. I've actually been reading a book recently by Kevin DeYoung that deals with this topic...and I love what you said about seeking God's heart over His specific will. It is a thing so easy to get caught in...and we do forget that we are His children. Thanks for this post Jenny! You said more in one blog-bit than the guy said in his whole book! :D

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  5. Yes, Rachel, I suppose there is something to be said for simplicity and brevity. And then there is John Owen.

    Further up and further in, Lewis said, and these are but the fringes of God's ways! I know I have seen this in my Valley of Vision, but God knows I have hardly grasped it. But I wanted you to see it, too, so that you might strive to grasp it as well.

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  6. Jennifer,

    You have hit the mark.

    Not having had a gather, seeking the Father's heart may be more difficult for me, because I don't understand such things as well. But I do know that what you've said is from Him. His sheep hear His voice.

    Thank you,

    Maria

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  7. What a funny slip I made. I had typed Father, with a capital f, then thought, 'No, that's not correct.' In fixing it I made a 'mad lib.' Oops.

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  8. Amen Jenny! My dad often preaches about this very thing. It's very sad that in our day many people see God as "indulgent". God is love but he is also a consuming fire.

    Thank you for this post I often wonder about the future and think "well what if I don't choose the right thing" but as long as we obey Him we will be doing His will and no matter what His will is done!

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