Jeff LyleCrosswalk.com blogspot for Jeff Lyle of TransformingTruth
- 2015 May 26
I have a friend who just received the immeasurably good news that she is cancer-free. It has been a long journey for her: the terrifying initial diagnosis, prescribed treatments, surgeries, difficult medical reports, physical suffering, powerlessness and much more than the rest of us can possibly understand. She was transparent enough to chronicle some of her journey to her support team on Facebook. Amy and I interceded as part of that team and were able to rejoice with her last week as she declared to anyone who would listen the good news of her victory over the big C. All of us love stories about those who beat the odds. It never gets old to me.
Here is a thought: what would we think of her oncologist if he had initially told her that she was physically well and kept the truth about her cancer diagnosis to himself? What if, in a sincere desire to not make her uncomfortable, he never told her the truth about what she was facing? What if the one to whom she went to for help and medical insight simply smiled and told her that there was nothing wrong? The answer to these ridiculous hypothetical questions is that the physician would have been grossly negligent and ultimately sued for malpractice because it would have cost my friend her life. I am really glad he owned the responsibility of delivering the bad news so she would become aware of her need to respond. He shook up her world but he also saved her life.
Sometimes we need to hear the news that will shake us up. Sometimes we have to give the news that shakes up others. Sometimes, we simply cannot be quiet and, at other times, we cannot pretend that we are deaf.
“The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.” – the words of Ahab in 1st Kings 22:8
There is something within most of us that would rather not receive news that shakes up our little world. A denial of reality is more desirable for some of us than having to acknowledge a difficult reality. Truth causes us to think, to respond, to adapt and to commit. I have experienced seasons where truth absolutely backed me into a corner – forcing me to a different place than where I assumed I was heading. In the verse above there was a wicked king, Ahab, who was honest about his desire to avoid the truth. Judah’s king, Jehoshaphat, was considering an alliance with Ahab and recognized that Ahab was surrounded by yes-menwho would prophesy only those things which pleased him. Jehoshaphat declined the input of those false-prophets and asked if there was a true prophet of the Lord to be found who could speak wisely to the situation at hand. Ahab knew of one such prophet named Micaiah…but he did not want to remove that prophet’s muzzle because he had the courage to speak truth that Ahab knew would frustrate his own predetermined position. Is that not audacious!? Ahab did not want to even hear a dissenting opinion because he was already settled on a course of action that he did not wish to be challenged. I smile when I read Ahab’s words, “I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me…” In other words, Ahab had no desire to hear from Micaiah because he had a track record of sharing inconvenient truth that irritated Ahab’s desire to remain as he was.
The spirit of Ahab is alive and well today. It is a good time to check our hearts.
God will often send a voice into your life which does not harmonize with your own. Initially, we can feel unsettled when we hear that voice. It sounds like a challenge. It sounds foreign, even a little distressing to us because it collides with what we were previously thinking. It can feel like a cancer diagnosis to our previously comfortable position. We are addicted to the practice of settling in life because we innately seek what works for us, and then we put a fence around it, calling it home. Yet God often wants us to escape the settler-mindset and continue on as pioneers, moving into acreage that we have not yet surveyed. It is unfamiliar territory for us. At other times, God wants to warn us of the dangers of remaining where we have been because He has something far better for us a little ways down the road. We may find it easy to dismiss those voices who challenge us because, perhaps, they were not invited by us to do so. At other times we do not care for their particular style of communication or we do not resonate with the tribe they are associated with. Ahab was about to put his life on the line in 1 Kings 22 and he was so determined to be in the right that he was not even willing to hear a word to convey if He was walking with God or not. In the end, Ahab violently punished Micaiah for telling him the truth and went out to war in spite of the true prophet’s warning that God would not be with him. Ahab never came back home from the battlefield. A random arrow, shot blindly by the opposition, found its unintentional mark and slew the hard-hearted, close-minded king. He died because he would not listen.
My personal belief is that some of you reading this are being invited by God to hear Him in ways that may not sound the same as what you have heard in the past. He may be calling some of you to step out in unprecedented faith and leave what you know for what He has in store for you. God does this with His children. Regularly. You can read the bible in any language and you will not find the teaching that God’s primary commitment is to cultivate a sense of unalterable sameness in you. The throne of His sovereign plan for you is not bolted down to the mahogany floor of your comfort zone. He prefers mobile tents over settled castles and He will move us in many ways as we remain yielded to Him. As I read through the Scriptures I behold a life of faith that is far different than what we see in much of 21st Century Western Christendom. In the bible the saints are ever learning, consistently changing, relocating, embracing deeper challenges in life and theology, becoming less settled in this world and hungry for God’s best. They even listened to voices that told them things that challenged them to the core. Yes, the life of faith is best understood as our living in tents. Don’t drive down your stakes too deeply or you may be reluctant to acknowledge those moments when God wants you to pack up some things as He takes you farther down the path. Whether it is a physician, an employer, a spiritual leader or some other source, resist the urge to silence the voice that doesn’t sound like what you want to hear. That voice may be God-sent and it might very well be attached to a decision that defines the direction of your future.