Do you ever find a verse lingering with you for weeks until it turns your thinking completely upside down? God has been giving me new sight through this verse that’s been reverberating in me:
In lingering with it, I am coming to see that to “do justly” and “to walk humbly” and “to love mercy” looks, more often than not, to us (and others), nothing like doing justly, walking humbly and loving mercy! That is, until that justice, humility and mercy (Jesus) has worked His patience into the very fibres of our being, until we have permitted that repeated testing of our faith to have had its full effect in us.
Until we can see by faith and not by sight that what God commanded us to do was and is indeed doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly into the irrevocable calling of our God. It’s then we step into the footsteps of our Savior, to take up our Cross and follow Jesus – wholeheartedly – into God’s irrevocable calling upon our lives.
It’s only because Jesus has done justly, walked humbly with His Father and loved mercy in His relationship with us – and ALL! – that we are empowered to love ourselves and others, as God has loved and continues to love us and will eternally love us. This Son of Man, the only Faithful and True Judge, takes us through the waters, the rivers and the flames, not to harm us, but so that we might come out as gold – as an unbreakable vessel prepared to do the will of God – as we wake up to our irrevocable calling in Christ Jesus.
The once useless vessel, is in Christ Jesus made useful, fully and wholly prepared to fulfill its purpose. How? It is fully submerged in the waters of baptism, cleansed in the rivers of mercy and purified in the fires of affliction – that it might learn to wholeheartey love and seek the will of its Master and Maker, whatever the cost, because it has come to know that all loss is in Christ Jesus but gain. Through the daily humbling conviction of our own sin, in the continued sanctifying and redeeming work of Christ at work in us, we – praise God – see no longer a wretched and sinful face nor the “better than others” self-righteous face reflected in the mirror. We see the face and radiance of Jesus glowing in us, behind us and before us.
And what exactly is that will Christ has submitted me to through the waters, rivers and flames? To do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God. To become a child of God – a blessed (happy and kneeling in surrender) peacemaker – who “bravely declares God’s terms which makes someone whole” (https://biblehub.com/greek/1518.htm). A vessel of God for whom “[…] the substance is the Messiah.” (Colossians 2:17 HCSB). For now I deep down know that “you [and I] have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.” for “the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ”, to whom you and I have given our hearts and lives (Colossians 2:9-10 HCSB).
Junius Johnson writes:
I now know my calling has always been to be a peacemaker. It is to be one, who “bravely declare[s] God’s terms which makes someone whole” (https://biblehub.com/greek/1518.htm). And those terms declare what my Jesus tells us is true. And that Jesus – the Word fulfilled and Word made flesh declares – of Himself- through us humble and submitted vessels: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Oh may I always and ever lay down my life in submission to the Father, may I always and ever die to my own will and my own sight to be resurrected – to be woken up – in Christ Jesus, unto the will and eternal eyes of our Abba Father. For His will is that not even one of us should perish, but that all should come to a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus, as our personal LORD and Savior. No, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward [us], not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, ESV)
And oh how patient He has been with me. Patient as I have turned my back on His calling, believing my sin to be greater than His blood shed at the Cross. Patient as I have turned my back on His calling, to point my finger at those who have persecuted me for doing His will, not seeing I was pointing that finger of accusation at myself in doing so – at the one who was never once saved by her own righteous doing, but only ever by the finished work of Jesus at the Cross. Patient as I have turned my back on His calling, believing my precious Jesus to be a harsh task master, One who was unsafe to invest my talents in because those talents have required my cleansing and my flaming alive in the Gospel – that has been burning away the dross in me – to occur so publically and so openly.
Oh how I recognize myself in Junius Johnson’s testimony to the faithfulness of God in my own unfaithfulness:
Sadly, like Junius, I didn’t see that this cleansing and flaming alive never once disqualified me, as it exposed that heinous sin in me only to wash me in the redeeming love of my God. In fact, the waters and rivers and flames I now know were only sent to qualify, equip and empower me to “bravely declare[s] God’s terms which makes someone whole” ( https://biblehub.com/greek/1518.htm). And that same God intends to reflect His love, His compassionate mercy and the fullness of His redemption for us, through the open confession of our sin and His saving work of righteousness for us – and for all of us – at the Cross.
Yes, if: “anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;” (2 Corinthians 5:17 -18). Praise God for the work of Christ’s patience – His steadfast love and mercy – in me and for me. Now, I am unashamed and unafraid to walk in the peace(-making) of God, for I count myself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).
And that Christ Jesus has called and is calling me to lay down my life to surrender those I love fully and wholly into His sanctifying hands – to step back and watch in awe, as the work of Christ arises in us all – as He turns each of our eyes and hearts to “look full in His wonderful face, until all the things of this earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”, as this beautiful old hymn declares (here sung by a group, whose member went home to be with the LORD, shortly after singing this):
Restoration, redemption and peace only come “when all essential parts are joined together” in “God’s gift of wholeness” that not we human beings, but ONLY ever Jesus can gift us and our loved ones. This peace comes in His beautiful timing, in His step by step by step work of patience, through our obedience to His calling of peace(-making), as He joins all essential parts together into His beautiful whole. Into His masterpiece of justice in action, mercy expressed in love and humility walked out at the foot of the Cross, where we join our LORD and Savior in professing the peace of God for all, not just with our lips, but with our whole heart and life: who is Jesus! Praise Him!
Now I thank God for the beautiful gift He gave me through our eldest daughter, more than a year ago. She came home with a drawing of a baby (bald) eagle, not long after I was first admitted to hospital for heart testing, which ultimately led to my definitive diagnosis about eight months later. Yes, as God so aptly now reminds me through my daughter’s drawing and His continued patient work in me: “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31). For our LORD’s peace is a peace that passes all understanding. His peace – OUR peace and peace-making – is a peace that lays down its life for another, for the joy set before us: an eternal joy that no one can ever take away from us.