He departed for a season

Monday Musings for January 27, 2020

Good morning, Musers,

Ever feel like fleeing? I think that nearly everyone does once in a while. I feel like fleeing when the world piles up on me. But then I think of Jonah — and how futile fleeing is as a method to escape God. What I’ve found, though, is that I can flee God without leaving the comfort of my home. I can cross my arms, shake my head and say “no” to the Holy Spirit... and I can hobble the kingdom of God in the process!

Fortunately, God has people all over the world who are responding positively to the Holy Spirit... so, in toto, his programs are not grinding to a halt. But note this well: there are plenty of jobs on our plates that if we don’t do them, they won’t get done — and if this is not true, then free will is a sham.

Here’s the problem: we humans are the Lord’s hands and feet... I mean... I don’t see Jesus waltzing in to teach that Sunday School... nor do I see him shoveling snow at the church... nor do I see him giving money to missions. That’s all on us. So, when we do those jobs poorly, we can affect the number of salvations that will occur in a given time — and if this is true, we can retard his very return!

Since most of us are not called to the foreign mission field, the highest level of obedience for us is to stay home and do the Master’s work. But, if we do run off, the best thing we can do is return and restore the relationships God has given us. Then we can — and we should — get going again.

You see, we are all like Onesimus on some level... and we are all like Jonah on some level. But the thing we should strive for is to be obedient on every level. This is a tall order... I know — and we will often fail! Let’s just not become like King Saul... and particularly, at the end of his run.

God gave Saul everything initially. Yet, through pride, character-weakness and lack of true repentance, Saul threw the kingdom away. He slid downhill to his death — and his ignominious end was entirely preventable. But fortunately, we have the example of Onesimus whom Paul was grooming to correct this kind of mistake in a very real way.

Interestingly, we know what Paul wanted to do here. He wanted to send Onesimus home. But we don’t know if he pulled it off. The Bible has no Second Philemon... although that would be cool! But perhaps it’s better that we don’t know for sure if Onesimus returned. I think that we Christians — who are positive people in the main — write our own version of Second Philemon. The trick is to write it in our hearts.

The problem is we flee God a thousand times a day... and just think of what God could do with a world where every thought and every effort of his people were directed to advancing his kingdom! But Onesimus blew that... and he could not un-run away. The thing he could do, though, was be restored... and in my version of Second Philemon, that’s what happened.

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