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DYNAMIC ESCAPADES AND DIVINE DELIVERANCE
A MOMENT WITH YOUTH
Youth is a period of fire but sometimes fizz, of aspiration but sometimes desperation, of high ideals but at times despondent disasters: it can be stable and forthcoming or casual and offbeat. It is life in the making for adulthood. It also has its own place and grace - as does old age.
It needs however to be at least slightly, understood. Paul gives us a fascinating, intriguing look into things as if with the vitality of a beginning; but with his abundant life, it is just possible he experienced in some measure the challenge later: only to overcome it as he did at the first.
Overcome? But that is another phase of it. Let's start at the beginning.
FLIGHTS OF FANCY, FLIGHTS OF FURY,
FLIGHTS INTO IMAGINATION,
FLIGHT TO REALITY
First, let us draw up our illustration, then see the principle. Suppose now a young person, late teens, energetic not to say rambunctious, apt to be unruly but capable of concerted effort, at the outset of the Battle of Britain. That staggering time of conflict when the many trained pilots of the Luftwaffe in their carefully prepared Messerschmidts were assaulting old Britain, including her young, with its few but magnificent Spitfire aircraft, and its hastily trained young pilots: let it swamp your imagination for the moment.
In it, see now a young pilot who from early teens has used his own zooming mini-craft, complete with tough elastic cord, to create impact in the school yard. His imagination has seized the minute craft of his eye, and his romancing spirit has often looked at elementary aeronautics, but not by that name, as he was growing up. Now his time has come. THERE is the foe; HERE is he, and there is this splendid thing, the Spitfire.
With dash and daring, with cleverness and an instinctive feel for the fluidity of motion, he outfights the Germans, downing 20 of their planes, often through a combination of sheer speed, acute anticipation and well-considered plans. Slowly and painfully, they come to see that this foe has more than youth and éclat: he often uses light, making individual sorties not far from collective masses of British craft: hiding in the light of sun, he comes swooping so suddenly, when other craft engage them, that his kills are flashing and often all but demoralising to the German assault force.
Besides all that, to find someone with spirit, with verve, and seemingly without fear is humiliating for the crazed survival-of-the-fittest Hitler-myth youth. How DARE he!
In due course, measuring his ways as far as they can, they proceed to execute over his scheme, one of their own, acting deliberately and with much foresight and craft amid the complexities of the air battles. What do they do ? Someone at extreme altitude will be waiting, above where they expect him to be, so that he is as blinded to this presence, as the others are expected to be, to his own. The time comes, at last the plan works: down he comes as usual on his prey, but as he does, down comes the super-aggressor onto him from beyond. The unexpected bullets strike into the cockpit, missing his body, but damaging his harness, and making it impossible for him to escape. The plane's engine is damaged, and down, down it does. As it does, his normal and expected buoyancy of craft and spirit suddenly sink.
"Oh wretched man that I am," he cries to himself, as he looks doom in the face, "who will deliver me..." (Romans 7:24). There is some kind of law working on my machine, so that whereas in spirit I soar as usual, now I am doomed with this dead-weight of unsatisfied, unsatisfactory junk.
You see, it is like the spirit when it is caught in its own cleverness and ways, and does not find any solution. The Spitfire comes to be ... you.
He sees a law of his mind; but it is as good as dead amid the forces of the air. The good that he wants to do (Romans ), he fails to do, for whereas his spirit wills up, his body goes down; whereas his plans are lofty, his performance is disastrous. He despairs of regaining control (Romans ). He is captive (Romans ) to forces outside his control. The light of his spirit is darkened.
Then there is fire... from below. An aircraft carrier is fighting the German craft, and a stray bullet carves a niche in the leather which has become stuck in his harness, so releasing him.
as the very exquisite power of the machine merely sends him the more surely to the grasping earth, seeming more and more hungry for his devastation, till he lie inert in its hold, ruined in the midst of untamed power, misguided dynamics.
Quickly, he ejects, and is soon soaring aloft, this time softly falling in his new parachute harness, with the billowing slowness of security stretched out, as if in gratitude, towards the highest vaults of blue, above. Relief relaxes his brow; his nerves are stupefied, it seems too wonderful. Then to his unmitigated horror, he sees his plane making a direct line for the aircraft carrier by which he has been released. HOW COULD IT! He cringes, as if this were the worst, the most unethical, unthinkable folly of all. Is it not enough that he was out of control, only to be delivered, but now as hope begins to dawn in his life, there is this devastation which makes of his own, a small thing. But the plane is unheeding to all his feelings, and to any thought which he may introduce. It goes on ...
Its nearer approach takes it toll in his heart. He cannot, will not let this happen; yet somehow is powerless to prevent it. The aircraft is directed as if on a route. He cannot contain it, control it.
follows on till it explodes on a large cross evidently used for landing
purposes on the deck; and ricocheting into a cavernous area, it evokes a vast
explosion. Soon only oil and debris remain. The waters quiet themselves again,
a strange serenity moves over the vast deep.
THE MEANING OF THE PARABLE
But what does all this mean! Let us interpret the story.
That is life. It is life in the midst of change. The change is beneficial and indeed necessary. The loss is necessary. The tragedy is triumph. Let us investigate this picture, comprehend this tableau as we see the scene over again with the eyes of understanding.
The aircraft carrier is the outside force, while the cost to it is its own life. As to the young pilot, HE is delivered because the CARRIER is not. His deliverance occasioned its sinking. His wrecked plane was the way to the spoiling of that beautiful vessel.
The bullets are the gospel which leads you to find this outside force, Jesus Christ, who actually began you inside, as the Word of God in your creation, and has much interest in your deliverance. Indeed He is much more than, but not less than force! The beauty, sufficiency and efficiency of His actions are contrasted with the horror, completeness and ruin of the ship where his plane makes its impact.
The explosion is the expensive but planned death of Jesus Christ, which followed from the course of sin, and sank with the vessel. No more is its profound power to work its way unchecked, remorseless, relentless, like some king. The 'sin' of the aircraft is swallowed up. Indeed in Isaiah (25:8), we read that "He will swallow up death in victory", and death is the end of sin (Romans ). Another translation is this: "He will swallow up death for ever". The joint concepts are both applicable.
What is missing in this picture is His resurrection, that of Christ who though in the very form of God, and far more worthy than man, became man to lead us back to God. Resurrection ? It is this by which the power that created you, has desecrated - spoilt, the power of - death. That has present results when yours is the aircraft that crashed into the aircraft carrier, when you are the pilot, when it is you who have cried out to God, "Who will deliver me from the body of this death!"
These appear in Romans 8:11. It is by this that you do not fear death (Hebrews -15, 9:12ff., -28), and by Him that you do not fear life (John ,27-28), and in Him that your life can be equipped with such beauty of holiness as you may rightly yearn for (II Corinthians 7:1, , I Thessalonians ).
Surely, you will not be perfect, for what plane is! But you will be rightly directed in Him. Therefore, knowing the world has, and has had no-one even slightly comparable to Jesus Christ, whose ways were predicted, and who in turn predicted the ways of the world to come, and will return to it in His time to judge justly: do this. Repent of sin - what's the use of it anyway: and accepting His payment for sin ("by His stripes we are healed" - Isaiah 53:5), by His who bore the iniquity (53:6), the sin of all who should EVER come to Him - (Isaiah 53:1,10), be at peace with God, and...
And don't forget
the parachute. You are then as a Christian, when you have come to Him, "seated in
heavenly places" (Ephesians 2:6 ), just as if in the parachute. It also helps
SALVATION ? HOW DOES IT ... GO ?
A couple more things remain. First let us actually look at that passage in Romans referred to above, Romans 8:11. "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." This is the key for continuance. You may have noticed of II Corinthians 3:18 that it is preceded by this: "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" - .
What does this mean ? It means this. The Lord sends His Spirit from Himself and His Father in heaven (John 15:26) and just as a TV studio PROJECTS the images, sound and feeling of the original in the creation of the transmission, into your home by the TV equipment placed inside it, so the Lord is able to project His power and comfort, company and guidance, help and strength, to your life through the equipment of a BORN AGAIN SPIRIT! YOU do not purchase that. He purchases it for you, and indeed, He is a RANSOM for you, as you see so clearly in the case of the payment of the aircraft carrier which swallowed all the debris of the uncontrolled aircraft in itself, and left peace on the face of the deep (Matthew 20:28, Galatians 3:1-13). Indeed, this equipment is not only free, it is KEPT FREE.
Thus in Galatians 5 you are told to STAND FAST in the liberty which He has freely given to you. Bought at a price, you do well to walk in the beauty of holiness, knowing God, which after all, when it is by faith, is crucial, isn't it! Fancy not knowing your creator in your youth, and using His equipment (first born, not second born in that case) with neither handbook nor service! In fact, Jesus Christ said this, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent" - John 17:3. In fact, Christ in this way lives IN you, so that Paul actually declares these words, and they are beautiful words: "the riches of the glory of this mystery ... which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians ). You may care to read about glory in Benevolent Brightness or Brothy Bane 82, at least the first part, where the champion swimmer speaks about God.
But what else is found in Romans 8:11 ? our "mortal bodies", He indeed does "give life" to these, and all that is involved. Our natural bodies and our lives which on this earth can be snuffed out in seconds, gain an eternal life which is a direct gift from the Creator, and this life is, like sap in a vine, life-giving. It is not merely something there: it is an organising, quietening, enlivening symphony of life. It stirs you up, it comforts, it helps, it hinders sin, it increases understanding.
The Holy Spirit, sent from God, brings Christ into your life, and He, being resurrected, is acutely alive, being Himself the very word of God which brought all creation into being, INCLUDING YOU! It is true a long list of parentage preceded you, but in making the first, He made the last! One is pro-created or generated from the other. It is not real creation in one sense; it is the organised RESULT of the first creation. Yet in another sense, it is creative: for YOU are different from all who went before you. On the other hand, you are the same in format, in structure, and the LORD is the same.
What are YOU going to make
of your life ? Abide in the Lord and you will see what HE makes of it! ABIDE
(cf. John 15) ? What is planted by the heavenly Father is NOT uprooted (Matthew
) or cast out (John ), or lost (John -28). What is merely a sport shoot,
it is no good. It must go.
Abiding ? It means to stay close and respect, respond to and find your source of action and knowledge, and ultimate reference in Him. It means to be healed in spirit when you are inclined to foolishness, wounded or troubled... When you KNOW somebody, it is an art; it is a fact; it is an experience, AND there are certain FACTS too. For example, this person is 16 years old, male or female, has hair of this or that colour, was born on this or that date, is academically like this and in sport like that and so on. He/she has a record.
So with Christ. He is objective. He is not somebody else. He did the works necessary for your salvation; in Him were done the works to demonstrate it in the resurrection, confirming His miracles before that with this profound one, brilliantly worked in Him when He was prostrate in death (cf. Romans 1:4).
He foretold the course of history for the world, and it comes to pass constantly. He offers life and the offer is valid constantly, until He comes. It is not that He makes it POSSIBLE for you to come to Him. It is rather this: that you are RESPONSIBLE if you do not (John -19,36)! He FOREKNOWS all things, and has prepared the entire program.
We find that He predestinated the people whom He foreknew as His (Romans 8:29ff.). However this is NOT the same as saying that He did not love the lost who do not come, for it is written in I Tim. 2, "God our Saviour would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." In fact it declares in that chapter: "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time".
This ransom is literally, ON BEHALF OF ALL. That is, it is enough for any, provided as sufficient for any; but of course it is not paid for all. Thus in Isaiah 53, we find that ON HIM WAS LAID THE INIQUITY OF US ALL (53:6), but we also find WITH HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED. But is the devil healed ? ALL who are healed are covered; and all who come in faith are healed.
Of course the devil is not healed, and he is not part of the ‘we’ whose sins bore, therefore; and there are many with him (cf. John ). The ransom however ? It is sufficient for all, efficient for any, it works. But as to those who do NOT receive Him, it is like a cheque not paid in. There is no action. No sin is then borne at all; and what makes it worse is this, that is not the result of the heart of the one who writes cheques. it is the fault of the one who does not receive what was available.
But God knows His own. Nothing is left to chance.
What hope do I have then
? you may ask.
Plenty. If you WANT Him, come, repent, receive Him as He was sent and is shown
to be in the Bible, claim His promise in John 10:9 (you look up that one,
and then follow on to verses 27-28), and it is done. HE is resurrected, you
BUT WHAT IF I DO NOT BELIEVE ? Then no problem. You do not believe it, so you are left without what you do not believe in. Where is the pain in that ? But you may say, I do really believe it, it is just ... that I find it hard... Right! Then if you do REALLY believe it, act on it. Receive Him, repent, entrust your life to Him, settle in your heart that His word is your rule, entrust to Him the inadequacies and insufficiencies. It is HE WHO IS THE SAVIOUR AND NO ONE ELSE, NOT EVEN YOU! so TAKE His salvation.
But you may say, That is fine in theory. In practice, I just cannot. No problem.
If you just cannot take the step, it is because you do not in fact believe. Once and for all trust Him and act, knowing that HE WANTS, is willing to have you, and trusting receive; or do not trust Him, and stop being in a bothersome state about it.
The REAL underlying problem - IF you have one - is likely to be this. You feel somehow inwardly that it is right, that it alone is correct, but there are two things:
1) SHOULD I HAVE this authority in my life ? (for that see Barbs,
Arrows and Balms1-3,
esp. 3 ; and
2) it is dangerous to be too committed, let's live a little!
This of course is your will. If you want Christ, tell your will: Forget it. I want Christ, and I am not even interested in you. What do you know! Take Him. If you do not want Christ, then read Luke 19:42ff.. That is how He felt about a city; and in one way you are rather like another!
As you act, you will find that you trust Him and so acting, will have all made clear. If you do not, then trust in yourself, who cannot even tell its birth to happen, or its death, or its accidents, and live without wisdom, and delight yourself in your youth, but know that the time comes when you return to your Creator ... and by the way, try reading Ecclesiastes 11:9-10, and separately, 12:1-8, and 13-14. I mean READ it! Better now than later … much better.
That aircraft of yours ? LET it crash into the aircraft carrier of the Saviour! He is willing. He is resurrected. It is your salvation. Finally read Romans 7:25 -.
Do you notice that it says of the Christian, "The Spirit Himself also bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God" - Romans 8:16. It happens in so many ways. Let us illustrate. A mother busy darning socks hears you speak to her, looks up, and says " Yes, dear ?" You know the voice, the kindness and the capacity of your mother. There are innumerable ways in which the relationship of mother and son or daughter, reveals itself. We are all, or nearly all quite familiar with that.
So with God, He is personal, and there are ever so many ways in which by guidance and counsel, through His word, in answer to His specific promises such as that in James 1, in appeals for help astoundingly answered, in discipline and so on, we recognise the other person. And indeed, He does testify in His own intimate ways to His children, for what parent does not! Yes, but a brutal parent might not; but God is not only filled with lovingkindness, but more than any parent. HE MADE US!
THAT is not all. HE - if you are now HIS - has REDEEMED US. He sank so that we might float. He died that we might live. And what life it is in the Saviour! It is the sort of life you might expect in someone so all-powerful and all-knowing who went to such colossal pains - in EVERY sense of the word - to provide redemption. And then it is that original power of His to be what He is: I AM WHO I AM , He declares to Moses (Exodus ). He is irrepressibly lively, incontestably faithful, and again, what would you expect of someone who died for you! And there is much more to look for when His is eternal life. It is only because this is NATURAL to us as offspring from Him who is SUPERNATURAL, that it seems so natural when this is given. This is the position if you are by now a Christian. If not, what do you expect if you reject such a One, who did!
One last thing is important
right now. It is this. Read John 15:7. It is necessary for the close and
beautiful relationship of godly living, to put your whole heart into abiding in
His words: that is, do not take them as indifferent. If your mother said to you
when little, please come now, the car is leaving for vacation, do you wait
until you do not go ? or for the pure thrill of parental discipline ? or in
order to spoil it for the others ? or for impious and careless wilfulness! Is
that the way to be a child of the house ? So with the Lord, watch His word, it
is given in love and it is presented with grace. Eat it up. Know it. Use it.
Expect Him to do what He says. It is His. If you love Him, love His mouth too!
You may want to know what to do for your career, how you may serve the Lord in heart and mind and hand and spirit, best! It is not unnatural that you should! Then if you have followed so far and are in fact His child, then the rest follows like the glide of a glider on an airstream carrying it. In that case -
1) you WANT to serve HIM, and you trust Him.
2) you love Him and your motive is love.
3) you study His word, because it is His, and seek to put it into practice.
4) you observe the warnings, note the blessed way and follow it.
you see that in Isaiah 35, there is a highway of holiness so good that the
wayfarers (pilgrims if you like) who are ON IT, CANNOT go astray, however
foolish. It is rather like the expressway I recall in the
6) you pray continually. Why not ? If you went out with your boy-girl friend, would you just for the fun of it, say nothing, and know nothing of what the other person had to say, of his/her feelings, ways and history ? So you pray (Ephesians has a number of ‘all’ words, and it is instructive to think about that!). You realise that mountains - obstacles in the path of what you OUGHT to be doing in the Lord, are able to be moved (Mark ). Become used to the concept of being a geological activist, who can move mountains!
7) make sure that love is in all your relationships. Someone may be appalling. There may be some who can scarcely be believed, for the hate, or roughness, brutality or perfected offensiveness - like a work of art! So be it. Love them. This means - seek patience, seek their welfare and of course do not seek to be anywhere near them unnecessarily, unless for their welfare, for Proverbs tells us to seek the company of the wise. Wisdom helps wisdom, sound ways teach them, variety in sound ways is stimulating, love in a team is enthralling: the love which is patient and reliable and true, and which ‘fits’ in the different things to be done. Sport is here an object lesson; but it is for play; this is for life.
8) This means seek a good church where only the word of God rules, and where it does rule. Seek to be a team member in it.
9) Be peaceable. If you must fight for the faith, do it really well! If it is however just some personal wish, be resourceful, look for ways of being peaceable. "Live at peace… as far as lies within you," says Paul.
10) Finally, read I Thessalonians 5:23. IN SPIRIT, SOUL AND BODY, look for His sanctification. What is that ? It is a state of being so close to Him that there is a feeling for it, as with a tennis stroke which you are used to doing. There is of course nothing automatic about LIFE, but there is the far greater ease of doing what you are accustomed to - the mind is set to it, the spirit propels it, the memory reinforces it.
Thus do not try out what is wrong; it makes it FAR harder in the end. Let the goodness of the Lord flow in you like the spillage from the overfull reservoir - "Be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians ) is an order no doubt misused by many. But when you realise that it means having the full provision of the Lord without grieving Him, obeying His most useful words and using your own orginality within that, like a driver who takes curves well by art, but does not ride on the wrong side of the road, just for fun! that is different. Realise how great is the power available for His works (Ephesians ), and then doing them, experience it for yourself. It is not something strange; it is just natural - when you know the supernatural GOD, and are doing what He wants, in the love which is His very nature (I John 4:7ff.).
Career ? Have we forgotten
it ? Not at all. The way to go depends on the One with whom you go, and the
relationship with Him and His word. As you follow out the one, you gain the
other. It is like eating and exercise. Do it right and a whole series of
operations in your body are helped. Do it wrong, and many are the ways you may
have to seek to put it right. It is better to do it right at the beginning,
till the end. That is a saving in discipline and a gain in growth!
If YOU have any experience of Christ to share, or any need, write Email to firstname.lastname@example.org