by Irene Nemser
Last week, in an effort to encourage me, a brother exhorted me, “Get out of the way, Irene, and God will use you.” I felt hurt, and had no sense that I was “in the way. “ This same person, when I complimented him, said, “It’s not me. It’s God.” This is what I have to say about that. God is not the kind of father who tells you, “Get out of here. You are in my way!” I don’t want to get out of His way. I want to get in His way. I want to hang about his feet, go where He is going. I want to come along. Jesus said, “I am the way,” so why would I want to get out of it? I want in, right in it.
If Daddy is going fishing, then I want to go fishing. If Daddy is resting, I want to be resting. If Daddy is preaching, I want to be preaching. Oh yes, I very much want to be in the way, because He is not the abusive father who kicks his kid aside so he can do his thing, read the paper, watch TV, or eat his meal in peace. No. No. He is very much interested in me and in you. Does the God who said that he wove you intricately in your mother’s womb sound like the kind of guy who would say to you, “Get out of here kid you bother me?” Does the God who made you with a unique set of fingerprints, DNA, hair color, eye color, shape, sound like the kind of guy who will now say, “It’s all about me, not you?” Doesn’t the Word say that He made you and me in His own image? So then why would He try to erase it, replace it?
Is God like the 15th century clergyman John Mirk, who said, “Children should be seen and not heard,” and sometimes not even seen? That inhospitable philosophy also included young women as well, and it lasted up well into the 1950's. My father grew up with it and it sure clashed with my mother's “outrageous” idea that children should be heard, be around, and be involved in almost every aspect of family and societal life. As a result, despite dad's original objections, we children, Sally, Allen and I, became integral parts of frequent dinner parties and holiday events, thanks to our mother's influence and well, frankly, iron clad insistence. Dad loved her so, in the end, he went along with it. We were trained by becoming active participants in the process, from setting tables, to cooking, to serving, to greeting the guests, hanging up their coats and making sure they were taken care of from their arrival to the time they left, often with leftover goodies wrapped up in bags to take home as well as an offer for a ride if they did not have one. My dad was a peach that way taxi-ing his guests without complaint, even the ones he didn't like so much, and there were a few.
One precious memory I have is of my brother when he was quite a “young lad,” as my father would call him, taking on the duty of answering the door to let the guests in. He was dressed to the nines in his black suit and white shirt and tie, and he welcomed each adult as they came into the foyer. We did notice that one time he was a bit wobbly during the bowing part of the greeting only to find out that he had been dipping into the vodka screwdriver punch bowl, which he had assumed was just orange juice. The more we laughed about it the more tipsy he got. He told us in later years that he was putting on quite the act and that he was not nearly as affected as we thought, but he couldn't resist all that attention. Up into adulthood, the next two generations WERE the entertainment. Each one did what they did best, from my singing and playing the piano, to my eldest son's playing the trumpet, my daughter and mother dancing, and my middle son performing magic tricks.
Although my dad minded at first, he soon learned the benefits of “child labor” and welcomed it heartily. All of us children, our children, and even our grandchildren know how to treat strangers, family and guests in our homes, and welcome those in need, especially during the holidays. This included, by the way, Princeton professors and our Italian babysitter who only had a third grade education, along with students from China, old ladies, and a former famous opera singer. We were exposed to multiple ethnicity, races, and people of all levels in business and society, and we had to learn how to handle that from a young age. What if my dad's antiquated training had won the day, “Children should be seen and not heard,” and preferably not seen? We would not have developed those skills. The important thing is that we were included, and I would encourage any parent reading this to remember the story and train you children as well in the ways of the Lord, especially hospitality. The point here is, it is not about being left out, or becoming invisible, so that God gets all the glory. It is about God getting the glory because we have done as He has done, walked in His footsteps and given people the opportunity to see our good works and glorify Him for it.
What about our identity in Him? Should we erase ourselves completely so that people can see God, but never us? Are we so abhorrent? Or does the Lord want to showcase us in His love, His life, His presence like the kind of loving dad He is? Don't you think he might like to hear those words, “Wow, that's quite a daughter you raised. What a great son you have!” He is all about identity. Our heavenly father wants to repair it and restore it, not destroy it. Eradication of identity and image is from Satan and it will live on in the pit of hell where God's very image has been erased from every soul that dwells there, leaving only a tortured and regretful, unrepentant shell. I am sick and tired, truly, of Christians saying “Don't thank me. I didn’t do it; God did it.” Yes you did. When you sinned, you did it so why not then when you did God’s work? You will be rewarded according to what you did. A “Thank you” will do when someone compliments you. All that nay saying is actually false humility and nothing less than telling a lie.
We have to be careful that the insidious philosophies of pagan religions do not influence our lives in Christ. Are we Buddhists? Buddhism holds that personal identity is delusional (Giles, 1993), that each of us is a self that turns out to not actually exist (Dalai Lama, 1995b, 2005). Clinging to or being obsessed with the delusional self is the major cause of suffering (Dalai Lama, 1995a). Was this what John meant when he said,”I must decrease and He must increase?” Is it our obligation to dwindle away into the void until all that is left is Jesus? Paul said, in Galatians 2:20, “I have been cruicified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” That is true, because He is “all in all” after all, and “the whole family in heaven and earth is named in the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 3:14, but let's not forget the “me” part. We still exist. Sadly, despite what I feel have been multiple crucifixions to the personal desires of my ego to get credit where I think credit is due, my flesh still mysteriously seems to rise up until I beat it back into the coffin for another day. Just because there is flesh, though, does not mean I am flesh. Just because you have fat does not mean you “are fat” as in “that is your identity.” It is time for us to shift into the mind of Christ, to think as He thinks, to see as He sees, and to do as He does.
Or, Are we Hindu's in that we believe we are part of the universal soul, essentially consumed by it until we are “One?” It sounds good but is it? Is it not Satan who is the roaring lion looking to find someone to consume? Is God some kind of megalomaniac seeking subservient slaves scraping and bowing to His will, lest we be consumed, or is He humble, a servant leader, a good Father, a brother, and a lover? Oh yes, He is the Almighty, to be sure,and yet He invites us in. We are in partnership with the trinity, by a covenant bought by Jesus' blood. We become sons and daughters, children of the household, working with our Father in Heaven for the good of the Kingdom of God. If only we can see that we “do it” with Him, in Him, through Him, by being around Him and all about Him. He does it through you, around you, about you, with you and me, and all of us. It is a co-operative effort.
We do this, not only individually, but as a called out community of men, women, and children working together. We are not equals to God, but we have become partners. We have moved up from slaves, to servants, to sons, to friends, to lovers, to a bride. He is all in all and we get to be all that “all” with Him. So it is time to get off of our duffs and get to work instead of sitting around in church or synagogue waiting for the experts to do it all, the ordained, the leaders, the most gifted, while we remain spectators instead of instigators in the kingdom of God. We will rule and reign with Him with Him forever, after all, and now is the training period and the time to fulfill what He has planned for us to do and be right here, right not, at this time on this planet. Go figure! The Almighty wants us in on the execution of His plan, and the execution of the Devil's plans.
Jesus said “ Truly, truly, I say to you, I can do nothing of my own accord, but only what I see the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that I do likewise. For the Father loves Me and shows me all that He himself is doing. John 5:19,20.
Next time you feel unwanted, rejected, useless, kicked to the side because you have screwed up one too many times, remember that He has asked you to come with him. He invited us all. The Father and the Son want you and The Holy Spirit cannot wait to live in you, to overflow in you, and to guide you into God's perfect plan for your life as it is interwoven in the tapestry of history from the very beginning on into eternity.
Which God do you know? Is he the one kicking you to the curb for better prospects or is He the one inviting you to come?
Whoever comes to me I will not cast out or drive away” John 6:37
1. Come up here! Revelation 4:1
2. Come and see! John 1:46
3. Come to Me! John 5:40
4. As many as you shall find, tell them to come! Matthew 22:1-10
Do you see yourself here in this mirror of historical figures?
Thirsty and Destitute! Isaiah 55:16
Tired and burdened? Come! Matthew 11:28
A child? Come! Luke 18:16
The arguer? Come! Isaiah 1:18
The foreigner? Come Is. 5:26
The person of color, of power and position, The seeker, The hedge fund manager, The banker, The trusted employee of a president or a king, The smart one, and even The sexually dysfunctional and mutilated one. Come! Acts 8:27-39.
The evangelist whom God has called to go into the dry places, Come!Acts 8:26
The hated sibling. The prisoner. The slave. The unjustly accused and punished. (David) 1 Samuel 17:28,29 & 1 Samuel 16:11, (Joseph) Genesis 37:18-24, 27-28 . Genesis 41:14
The Whore, the lady entrepreneur, the Risk Taker and Way Maker, the Hated Foreigner, the secret Protector of her entire family. Joshua 6:25.
The Criminal on the cross. Luke 23:42,43.
The Murderer, the Judgemental one, the Hater, Saul of Tarsus. Acts 9:1,2.
The Nice Guy, the Rule Follower, the Rich One. Matthew 19:16-30.
There are lots more. Which one are you. “Many are called to come, but few are chosen.” We can be both called and chosen if we answer the call and just come. What do you say?