I missed church today. And my sister and I had a ferocious fight regarding me waking up early just so we can go to church by commuting for two hours. I woke up late. Well not really. I woke up with a depleted motivation, a tired body and a complaining attitude because of the six days of work without an official off-day. I missed out God’s assembly for today.
First thing I was sure about is that the argument I had with my sister seemed like the consequence of not attending church. It’s not like my reason wasn’t valid and so was hers. It’s just that my relationship with God brings me a sting of guilt for not persevering for Him. But God was still gracious enough to tell me that despite my absence in His assembly, He knows my heart best. He further taught me that the unnecessary fight isn’t a ‘punishment’ but the outcome of my decision for this morning.
And so I am writing this like a God-given homework, for this conclusion.
Our life of freewill is like a vessel of emptiness. The emptiness is that hollow area of our life where we get to choose who fills it in. And this freewill is the gateway and permission God needs to fill us with His purpose (Deuteronomy 30:16). But the nature of His love for us forbids Him to force us. That is why he never forces us to pray, do good or walk on His will (Genesis 1:26). Our life, to be in God’s purpose, requires a heart that invites and permits Him.
“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21)
While it’s a good thing to have this kind of freedom. The spiritual reality of life is that even though we get to be in control of our choices, circumstances around us do not necessarily agree with this kind of God-granted goodness. For the word of God tells us that “the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10) so even if we have the freedom to choose or not choose God to enter our empty vessels, the thief of the spiritual realm always waits for its opportunity to ‘force’ its way in our life.
1 Peter 5:8 tells us “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Just like the opportunity it had to me this morning.
When I decided to use my time apart from the will of God, I had my vessel left empty. But I did not know I had left it open. Seeing the opportunity, the enemy was fast enough to push me into using the time to pride myself when my sister rebuked me for waking up too late and not persevering for God. Hence, the argument went on. When my vessel (my time) was not given to God’s purpose, whether my reason is valid or not, the luxury of having my vessel empty for other things I wanted to do, did not come in handy.
Freewill does not equate with sovereignty to life.
Hence the word consequence. The enemy, seeing I did not let God in, used the opportunity to condemn me for being unrighteous.
Despite the promise of Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, anger and pride filled me instead of humility and love. I know I am not being legalistic. Writing this compels me to journal how this experience needed to remind me to be “spiritually realistic”. That my life in Christ is assured in heaven but my living on earth compels me to live responsibly–that is to know God, know his word and know how to fill and ‘defend’ my life according to God’s word.
For God intends our lives to be filled with his grace and goodness. He designed us not be empty because we were never meant to be. But I had to painfully admit that even though I wasn’t an empty vessel this morning, I was filled but not for God’s glory.
NEXT: This History of Human Emptiness as Told by the Bible