More thoughts from guest writer, Melissa Bickish continued….
A Permissive Garden
Watchman Nee wrote, “Whether the one in authority is right or wrong does not concern us, since that authority has to be directly responsible to God. The obedient needs only to obey; the Lord will not hold us responsible for any mistaken obedience, rather will He hold the delegated authority responsible for his erroneous act.”
Whenever I was studying this subject and thinking a lot about what I wanted to say and how, the Lord led me to two books that were both very helpful. On is called ‘A tale of three kings: a study in brokenness.” By Gene Edwards and the other is ‘Spiritual Authority” by Watchman Nee. They both were insightful. Gene Edward’s book is summed up as the story of how God will use the authorities in your life to crucify you! And Nee’s book on authority is a lot more in depth on the how’s, why’s and wherefores of God’s plan for authority in our lives. (*anyone can borrow these)
The Lord may be using your authority to crucify YOUR flesh!
Here I quote Gene Edwards as he is speaking of David’s struggles with King Saul.
… “ David had a question. What do you do when someone (in authority) throws spears at you? Does it not seem odd to you that David did not know the answer to this question? After all, everyone else in the world knows what to do when a spear is thrown at them. Why, you pick up the spear and throw it right back!… absolutely everyone else does, you can be sure. And in doing this small feat of returning thrown spears, you will prove many things: You are courageous. You stand for the right. You boldly stand against the wrong. You are tough and can’t be pushed around. You will not stand for injustice or unfair treatment. You are the defender of the faith, keeper of the flame, detector of all heresy. You will not be wronged. All of these attributes then combine to prove that you are also, obviously, a candidate for kingship. Yes, perhaps YOU are the Lord’s anointed… After the order of King Saul. There is a possibility that some 20 years after your coronation, YOU will be the most incredibly skilled spear thrower in all the realm. And, most assuredly by then… Quite mad.” He continues by ‘answering’ the question of “Is my authority truly anointed by God?” with this section.
“ My kind is mad. At least, I perceive him so. What can I do? First, recognize this immutable fact: YOU CANNOT TELL( none of us can) who is the Lord’s anointed and who is not. ….I’m in David’s situation and I’m in agony. What do I do when the kingdom (or home) I’m in is ruled by a spear-wielding king? Should I leave? If so, how? Just what does a man do in the middle of a knife-throwing contest? Well,… you won’t like the answer. The answer is, ‘You get stabbed to death.’”
Gene Edwards: “A tale of three kings: a study in brokenness”
There was something about this book and the way he wrote it that had me laughing and deeply thinking. I know that not ALL authorities are King Sauls… and ladies we have godly fathers that are not Kind Saul’s at heart. However, King Saul still lives inside of your Dad’s flesh as much as he does inside of your own. How often God uses flesh to reveal flesh! No one can irritate me more than my dad! Haha I SEE so clearly all of his faults because they are also mine! It’s like trying to pluck the King Saul out of your father’s life, while ignoring his reign in your own kingdom.
I also wanted to point out that hot water reveals what is already inside of a tea bag. In the same way shaking a tree reveals the kind of fruit it produces. When God allows our authority to decide something wrong, or that we just do not like, it is hot water on our tea bag and a good shake to our tree. It REVEALS a lot. God TESTS us often to prove to us what He’s already seen lies beneath the surface. When your authority is clearly and biblically wrong it is an opportunity to see just what kind of person you truly are. Watchman Nee took 2 Bible stories and explained them for me in a way I’d never thought of them and made them make so much sense to me. I’d like to just read a bit of what he said on this idea of being tested by our authority’s wrong choices.
“ The Rebellion of Ham. (Read Gen. 9:20-27)
“… So far as Noah’s conduct was concerned, he certainly was wrong; he should not have been drunk. Yet Ham failed to see the dignity of authority. The father is God’s instituted authority in the home, but the flesh delights in seeing a defect in authority so as to throw off all restraint. When Ham saw his father’s improper conduct he did not have the slightest sense of shame or sorrow, no did he try to cover his father’s fault. This reveals that he had a rebellious spirit. He went out instead and told his brethren, pointing out to them his father’s ugliness and so adding to himself the sin of reviling. Observe, though, how Shem and Japheth managed the situation. They entered the ten backwards- thus avoiding seeing their father’s nakedness- and covered their father… It is seen then that the failure of Noah became a TEST to Shem, Ham and Japheth. It revealed who was obedient and who was rebellious. Noah’s fall unveiled Ham’s rebellion.”
Ham was ‘tested’ by God through Noah’s wrong actions… and was found to be full of rebellion. It was interesting to note that the sin he was most guilty of was ‘reviling’ his authority. He ‘bragged’ about his authority’s sins and made them his excuse for his own behavior. How often have you heard children blaming their parents for their own sinful choices? How many times have you failed this same test and spoken against your authority’s faults to someone else? Even a sibling?
“ Strange fire offered by Nadab and Abihu ( Read Lev.10:1-2)
In all matters of service Aaron was the chief; his sons were mere helpers, serving beside the altar in obedience to Arron… They thought they could offer sacrifices by themselves and so they offered without Aaron’s order. The meaning of strange fire is to serve without an order, to serve without obedience to authority.”
Watchman Nee: “Spiritual Authority”
This thought truly intrigued me. I have wondered so many times if my authorities were ‘keeping’ me from serving God as I should. I have speculated if they truly can know God’s will for ME in service. I have pondered the possibility of them no ALLOWING me to do what GOD has called me to do. Are we playing with fire? Strange fire is to serve OUTSIDE of authority. God DOESN’T ask you to do something He won’t allow you to do! God doesn’t work outside of your authority. You can be sure, if your father has ‘restrained’ you from some form of service you thought your duty, God has clearly ‘restrained’ you from offering Him strange fire.
God gave you….
4. Your Parameters.
“As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.” Proverbs 27:8
Do you ever feel like a ‘caged’ bird? Do you ever feel that your wings have been clipped so much that they may be no good when once you can fly? Do you feel ‘hindered’ much more than others? Are you kept from doing a lot of things you want to do? Do you feel ‘socially’ stifled? Are you always seeming to be told ‘No’ anytime an opportunity arises to have fun? You are not alone!
Parents spell love “protection”. One of your parents responsibilities before God is to protect their children. That means you… yes, you need protecting. We often feel we could manage just fine on our own (and perhaps we could) but for now, while you are in your parent’s home you will be given parameters. You may feel smothered, over-protected, withheld or even controlled. Don’t compare your cages, little birds! Your walls may be a LOT higher and a LOT narrower than the next garden’s. Christ is the one who ultimately determined your boundaries…. Through your loving, protective parents.
Read (Acts 17:26) “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;”
The Lord designed your walls, your cage and your bounds. Your habitation is hand picked. When you buck against the walls of your boundaries you are bucking against God’s protection in your life.
Rom 13: 1,2,4,5,7,9. Rom 16:16,19,26. Not only are we meant to be subject to someone, but we also are said to be able to be an influence in obedience. Your willing surrender to your confinements could help someone else in their struggle. Freedom is possible INSIDE a cage.
Every young person and young adult desires freedom. Everyone wants to spread their wings and see if they can fly. One of the most desirable things that I coveted at a wedding I attended was their apparent freedom and ability to choose. As they drove away I kept imaging how fun it would be to choose for yourself how to live your life, and what to do with it, where to go, where to live, etc. Your entire life is not dictated by you. Even if you drove off into the sunset a ‘free’ woman, you’d have to submit to your husband and God. As women we are NEVER truly free to choose for ourselves. Instead we are commanded to live under obedience. Does that bother you?
1Co 14:34 ¶ Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
1Pe 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
God’s entire plan for your life as His child is that you remain, rest and rejoice in obedience. As God’s own we are to be a ‘show case’ for His glory and He cannot receive Glory out of a disobedient vessel.
“Because thou still lovest thyself inordinately, thou art afraid to resign theyself wholly to the will of others!” Thomas a’Kempis
God gave you…
5. Your Power.
God has given you, Yes YOU, the power to submit. It may not feel like it, but it also doesn’t depend upon you. God has the power to obey through you even the most difficult of authorities. Christ learned obedience and so can we.
“ To be filled with Christ is to be filled with obedience… Christ learned obedience through His suffering (Heb 5:8)… He did not bring obedience to this earth; He learned it- and He did so through suffering. Our usefulness is not determined by whether or not we have suffered, but by how much obedience we have learned through that suffering. The obedient ones alone are useful to God.”
If you are not able to accept your authority’s decisions as ultimately FROM the Lord you will struggle to submit. God does not ask you to obey a fallen authority as much as He has asked you to obey Him through that authority. If you separate the two, you will continue to struggle. “Struggling is a sign of life, but it is not abundant life.” (Pastor Coulson) If you struggle with an unsubmissive attitude and a hoarish heart than that is a sign you have not completely yielded to your rebellious nature, but also a sign that you have also not completely yielded to Christ’s Spirit of Submission either. You’re struggling, but not abiding. In Christ we have all the POWER of a Triune God head available to us for the asking. (Mt 28:18 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”) In Christ you have the power of the One who learned so well His lesson of obedience as to become obedient to taste death for every man.( Rom. 5:19 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous”. In Christ we have all the power of the One who said He did nothing apart from submitting to the Father’s will. (John 8:28 “Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.”) He IS submission. He IS the personification of everything that is obedience. The Lord never commands us to do something that we are truly unable to do in Him. Struggling shows that there is a spark of life…. But it may not be HIS life. We HAVE the Spirit of Obedience living within our beings. It is not hard for Christ to obey your parents through you. Are you willing to be submissive? Are you willing to learn obedience even if your instructor is pain or sorrow or chains?
It is humbling to submit. It is hard to ‘debase’ yourself in the eyes of the world and appear to them as weak. We are taught from a young age that the strong are the ones who will not be bent and will not bow their will to anyone. It can feel strange and even humbling to place yourself in the vulnerable position under an authority. “He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.”Proverbs 15:32-33
DISOBEDIENCE IS PUNISHED, BUT OBEDIENCE IS BLESSED. You’ll find this principle scattered all through out the Word of God. I don’t know about all of you, but I like the sound of blessings a lot more than chastenings. The Lord said of Israel in Ezekiel 20:37-38 “I will cause you to pass under the rod,… and I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against ME….” Israel in rebelling against Ezekiel’s sayings, truly rebelled against God.
We have no power in and of ourselves.
2Ch 14:11 “And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.”
2Co 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
God has ALL power:
Mt 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
Ps 21:13 Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.
Ps 62:11 God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.
Ps 71:18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.
Ps 147:5 Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite
Job 36:22 Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him?
God gives us His power when we ask:
Mt 9:8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.
Job 26:2 How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength?
Isa 40:29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth
Mic 3:8 But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.
You are not an exception. God wants to give you the power and humility and grace that you need in order to obey a less than perfect authority. Christ is willing and waiting to give you all that you need to truly obey Him. Will you be a permissive garden?
1Pe 5:5-6 “ Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God,..”
“ He that endeavoreth to withdraw himself from OBEDIENCE,
withdraweth himself from GRACE.” -Thomas a’Kempis-