"Don’t suppose for a moment, though, that God’s Word has malfunctioned in some way or other." (Romans9:6) Most of the time we are the ones who "malfunction" - not God, not his Word, not his promises, not his commands. When something is "functioning" as it was designed to function, it follows a particular order - all the pieces fit together as they should, producing the intended outcome. Truthfully, only God can do this 100% of the time! Try as we might, we are going to "malfunction" on occasion. Trusting in our ability is always going to leave us with "less than" whatever it is we could attain, obtain, or maintain with God doing the work!

How can we sum this up? All those people who didn’t seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. (Romans 9:30-32)

Those who once did not believe, had no intention of following the one true God - they have come full-circle. They embrace what God is doing, while those who should have been embracing what God was doing all along in their lives have somehow taken a different track. It is like they were plugging down the track well, came to a fork in the track, and then "flipped the switch" to go down a track they were not originally on. We do this sometimes, don't we? We start out well, then without even thinking, we take the track which presents itself as an "option" in our lives. When it comes to our obedience, many of us "keep our options open"! One embraced what God was doing and reaped rewards beyond their imagining; the other chose to focus on something quite superficial and missed out. We need to understand that "playing the part" of a Christian is not enough to keep us in right relationship with God. We can read all the scripture we want to - looking quite pious in our pursuit - but if it is never embraced, never allowed to change the way we think and act, it will serve us little good. We can talk about God a great deal, even using the right "Christian words", but if we don't have heart-knowledge of God's grace and love, the words are empty.

There is a clear between living by some set of rules (the reading and talking part) and living by grace (the actual life-transformation part). The revealing words: "...instead of trusting God, they took over." Instead of trusting God with our brokenness, we look for ways to fill the void created by the broken pieces of our lives - things like working way too much, drinking/drugging, multiple relationships without any depth or commitment. There are multiple ways we go down this track of "trusting ourselves" to get us to the right destination - the list is probably too long for me to recount. The thing we need to see is the tendency we have to take over what is not really ours to "manage" - leading us clearly into a state of "malfunctioning" existence. Another word jumped out at me from this passage today: Absorbed. The evidence of going the wrong way - being self-absorbed - absorbed in what it is WE are doing, and totally missing what it is GOD is doing all around us. Another word for this is being "preoccupied". 

In planes, public buildings, and even on some busses there are little signs on the lavatories indicating which restroom is available for use. When the sign clearly displays "occupied" in red letters, it is unavailable. When the sign is slid in the opposite direction, it reads "unoccupied" in green letters. Just as these signs serve a purpose of letting someone know when it is they may enter, so it is with the "signs" we display in our lives. God looks for us to make the "shift" from "occupied" by self to being "unoccupied" and available for his use. When this shift occurs, it is because there has been a change in the direction the sign is facing. So, if we want to see real depth in our relationship with God, determined to stay on course with him, we need to make a shift in what has "pre-occupied" our minds, hearts, and emotions. I don't know about you, but I wish becoming a little less "pre-occupied" by the stuff of life was easier - like moving that sign on the lavatory from the left to the right! If it was this easy, there would be no excuse for any of us to ever miss out on what God is doing right in front of us. It isn't until we actually make the move from "self-occupied" to "open for use" that we reveal to God our intention for him to take access to the space other things have taken in our lives. When the little sign is moved from occupied to unoccupied, it is for the intention of allowing the door to open freely. Maybe it is time we did a little "unlatching" of our lives today. Just sayin!


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