Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday's Resolutions {Deliberate and Unlikely Actions}

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We are picking apart Jonathan Edward's 70 Resolutions, one week and one resolution at a time. Don't forget to start where he did- "Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ's sake."

23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs, and end of it; and if I find it not to be for God's glory, to repute it as a breech of the 4th Resolution.

"Intentional" is a popular buzz word nowadays- every blog and book and article I read seems to be focused on cultivating intentionality- in marriages, parenting, homemaking, work, gospel living, etc. The idea behind this phenomenon is that life goes fast, and if we aren't careful we can spend it just reacting, barely keeping our heads above water, thereby missing out on truly important things.

Living a life of intention requires thoughtfulness, purpose, and direction- taking advantage of each moment and living it to the best of your ability.

Jonathan Edwards seems to take the concept even further (no surprise here!). He resolved to frequently (often, regularly) take some deliberate (intentional, purposeful) action that seemed unlikely (too big, impossible even) to be accomplished, for God's glory.

In the vein of William Carey, he planned to "Expect great things from God," and to "attempt great things for God."

Once these great and seemingly unlikely things had been accomplished, he evaluated them from start to finish in light of the 4th Resolution, which, in case you've forgotten, is "never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it."

Jonathan Edwards desired that all of his victories and accomplishments, and the motivations and thoughts behind them, would tend to the glory of God. He didn't trust himself, he knew his heart to be deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). He knew that behind so many of our accomplishments lie the deadly roots of pride, longing for the praise and approval of men, and anxiety over our own glory and reputation.

What big and deliberate actions will we determine to take for the glory of God? 

This is often where I get stumped. I've read the biographies of great women, like Amy Carmichael, who were led to pray for a specific number of souls at gospel meetings, and saw God answer accordingly. But how do I know if the salvation of 6 friends in 2013 is a number given me by God, or just a fanciful imagination of my heart?

Salvation is of the Lord. While I am called to share the gospel with others as a Christian, it is God alone who can draw them to Himself.

What great things did Jonathan Edwards mean? Was he referring to writing great theological books, building churches, seeing a certain level of growth and discipleship among the believers he shepherded?

I'm not entirely sure. I do know that God has called us to walk in obedience to His commandments. To trust Him in the hard times, to cling to Him when darkness surrounds and there is only enough light for the next step.

I know that God has called me to deliberate action as a Christian wife. I am to submit to my husband as the Church submits to Christ (this is a radical and unlikely action in the world we live in, is it not?). I am to love him sacrificially, to serve him and help him. To stop looking out for myself as number one.

I know that God has called me to attempt the unlikely as a mother. To love my child, not with mere strong feelings, but with a willingness to lay aside my priorities and work to meet her needs, even and especially when they are inconvenient to myself. With a love that stops to listen when I am busy and distracted. He's called me to nurture her in the fear and admonition of the Lord, even when it would be easier to just give her what she wants, instead of what she needs.

Probably the most radical calling on the Christian's life is obedience to the Word of God as a whole. It isn't easy to take up our cross daily and follow Him. It isn't easy to love and forgive others as we have been loved and forgiven. Refusing to be anxious, and casting our cares upon Him with thanksgiving is impossible apart from His grace at work in us.

When we walk in obedience to Him, not because people are watching or because it makes us look good or makes our life easier, but because we desire to honor the One who loved us and gave Himself for us, these are deliberate and unlikely actions that tend to His glory.

Don't despise the little days- the woman who is faithful in little is also faithful in much.

What deliberate and unlikely actions is the Lord calling you to today?

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