The thoughts below were originally the thoughts of T. Austin Sparks. I have taken the liberty to rewrite them in my own words.
Suppose for a minute that God has in His mind a purpose, complete in every detail, for creating the human race. Suppose that God choose man to be a unique vehicle for the expression of that purpose.
But, when these men were put to the tested, every one of them failed to measure up to the standard.
-Do you think that God became exasperated or annoyed?
I can say with the utmost assurance that not one thought was given to write it off, try another approach, or design a different model.
God has known from eternity past that man would fail, He was not surprised. It was part of His plan to elect from that race of men, a smaller group, a chosen people, (Israel), willing to respond to His desires.
God foreknew the calling out of the original group and likewise He foreknew these new ones also, i.e. the ekklesia, The Church. This “Church” was visible to God in the eternal past and He knew them all by name. They were not some kind of extra-elect or more-elect than the original “elect” but were a kind of “first fruit” among a large quantity of ripening fruit, an initial expression concerning the rest.
-What do you suppose would be some of the things God would do regarding that small company, that “elect” group?
∙ Would He put a hunger in their hearts for more of Him? A great thirst to understand and know His mind and thoughts?
∙ Would He provide a satisfaction of that hunger and actually grant our desire for knowledge and understanding?
∙ Would He orchestrate, direct, and control life and create circumstances to allow His “elect” to accomplish His purpose.
Let’s expand each of the points above and see if they relate to what we see written in the Bible and what we witness in the lives of Christians and Biblical characters.
1. A heart hunger for God’s full thought
Do you think God would do something inside this small band of believers by creating a deep spiritual need through a dissatisfaction with the status-quo, or a disappointment with the existing general condition, and produce an inward longing for something not outwardly available? Would this “something” be initially regarded like a rumor of some great place, or an inheritance, or like the momentary scent of something sweet, or a feeling that something has been missed, producing an inward hunger? This group, would have reproduced inside of them, a sense of God’s own discontentment, His own dissatisfaction, and His own desire, for us, of that “something more,” spiritually. Do you think that might be one thing God might do?
2. A provision to satisfy that hunger
Would God induce a hunger then not provide food? God has perfect foreknowledge. He would continuously make provision for the appetites He has created. He would take care to give everything needed in all of creation to quench that inward dissatisfaction. God is sovereign and it is impossible for Him to contradict Himself. His ways may be, “beyond finding out,” but they are completely reliable, and He is faithful to Himself. Because of this we know that in all of God’s creation there is not a single desire that is not provided for; think about that. Desire and satisfaction go together: God causes hunger and God feeds the hungry; man gets thirsty, there is water. Our thirst proves the existence of water. Desire is prophetic of its own fulfillment. If you were in God’s place would you do this?
3. A life sovereignly directed and controlled
Do you think God would act in isolation from His chosen ones and not arrange and create necessary experiences in their lives? Even though we are ignorant of what and why things happen He, in one way or the other, brings the events of our life into contact with His will, to fulfill His purpose. He shuts the doors to hem us in, and directs us along certain paths to exercise and to satisfy. He provides in differing degrees, to prevent us from getting involved with just “life in general.” Those things may not be wrong or bad, just general, diversions from His purpose and the satisfying of our deep longing, and not His way to fill us. Trying to reason out what’s going on may give us some self satisfaction, but the truth is that God is acting sovereignly, and not allowing you have your way, or think in general terms. The truth is that we start way out on the perimeter of life and God is always creating experiences to direct us inward to a narrow way; I guess you could say He’s making us “narrow minded” in our life, outlook, and activities. God throws up barriers and limits, when we start moving too generally, in a too unlimited a fashion. God’s way is to move us inward, always inward, by consent, to greater depths of spiritual satisfaction. By consent He shuts us out of things, even turns us against things, till we can’t go on. Do you want to call this fate? Go ahead if you want to, but God is saying, “here I Am, it is Me.” You could have gone that other way, to the right, or to the left, but you didn’t, you are where you are by consent and God is creating a way for you, to Himself, always working for you, if you don’t miss it. Do you think God would do something like that? What would you do? Would you just goof up peoples plans, concerning the general stuff, to direct them into another path? Would you just cut them off if necessary? It would be hard, but would you do it? Do you think the Lord would do it if necessary? What would happen if He didn’t do it? I know what I would do. I would get involved in a bunch of general things and live life on the perimeter, sitting on the fence, lukewarm.
So, there we have it, that was simple enough. But, what about us who are living in these last days? Should we be thinking in “general” terms? With God there is no such thing as a general Christian life.
Now suppose you are being guided and unknowingly steered, and in the course of your life you have been brought by this inward prodding to a point of conscience, even overwhelming, need? All those coincidences, accidents, or mistakes have brought you to where you are at this minute. God is very exact and His Spirit extremely precise. These words, (coincidence, accident, and mistake) appear to be just general terms, but in the spiritual, it is sovereignty. The path of our lives have led you to where we are now, and we seem to be having a hard time, because of God’s precision. From God’s side it is a fine thing and not general at all.
There are many today, including myself, in whom an awfully deep work has to be done. When our bad times come it is hard to see that it is spiritual and we simply chalk it up as coincidence, accident, or a mistake. We say it is those people getting in our way, those damn people, (pardon my expletive, but I want you to get the point), they’re ugly, they’re difficult, and often they’re our family. Things come up in our lives and they just look like everyday, general problems, things of the Earth. So, what do we do? We take a walk in the desert, that dry lonesome place, and we stay gone for awhile, and underneath all our diversions, we thirst, and we hunger, and we wander. But, God is there, creating, getting your life all out-of-whack. Then something tells you start weighing things: what’s it going to take to humble myself, or confess, or put things right, facing the music, and realizing, that “it is God with whom you have to do,” not people, really, not things. Then, one day, you stumble across a Rock, and there before you is The Path, and a gentle breeze clears the entrance, and you say, “I am home now, this is where I’m suppose to be.” Do you think that God would do that kind of thing?
Do you think that if God designed all of what we see that He would have neglected this special thing of love and care? Do you think He would draw people to Himself like this, today? What we see, as the enormous mountain of our life, is the precise placing of every stone and grain of a sovereign God who loves us with an everlasting love. If you prayerfully analyze it all you will see that there is something else going on, something awesome, painful, and wonderful, it is God getting in our way, not leaving us alone. It’s not about the way you were brought up or what you were taught, none of those general things, it’s about perfection, it’s about sovereignty, it’s about “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”
Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd,
And he shall perform all My pleasure,
Saying to Jerusalem,”You shall be built,”
And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”‘
Cyrus, God’s Instrument
“Thus says the LORD to His anointed,
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held —
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings,
To open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:
‘I will go before you
And make the crooked places straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron.
I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the LORD,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
They will neither hunger nor thirst,
nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them
and lead them beside springs of water.
But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.