Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sweet Chariot

“Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home….”  That’s how the lines of the song go.  Do you know it?  Come for me chariot and sweep me away to a glorious land!  Beautiful idea.  Just like Elijah walking a familiar path across the river Jordon on dry land and then onward some more, leisurely in conversation with his apprentice.  And we now conjure up a tale of fiery passion swinging low to sweep the beloved Elijah off his feet into the presence of his God.  Elijah was sweetly delivered from…. .pause…. .think…. .Jezebel?  Ahab?  Baal prophets?  Death?  The sword?  Well, what was he delivered from?!  Walking and talking with Elisha… .his comrade, his friend, his pupil.  By all appearances, this is probably not a deliverance!

In the midst of Jezebel’s regime, standing before King Ahab, surrounded by the crazed prophets of Baal, at the mouth of Death and the edge of the sword, Elijah was guided right into the circumstances, not delivered from them.  Divinity took Elijah through, not around.  

Deliverance.  A man of flesh and blood hangs on a splintered cross by rusty nails.  “And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!’  The soldiers also mocked him. …Saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’. ….One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying ‘Are you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!’ “ Luke 23:35-39.  Undelivered on the outside.  The message to Him: Save yourself!  Before kings and queens, in the midst of the rulers of this world, surrounded by crazed religion, at the mouth of Death and the edge of the sword, hanging on a splintered cross by rusty nails…. .save your own life.  Don’t hold your ground.  But He couldn’t take their advice.  Simply because He was so delivered. He had been completely saved.

Deliverance.  It’s not about sweet chariots sweeping us away from impending doom.  Not so much.  It’s about the Word that we have believed on the inside.  Therefore, we do not need to save our own lives.  We can stand.  We can wait.  We can do all things by faith.  We plant our feet and trust that He will order our circumstances.  But we have to stay planted.

I am not saying that deliverance is never circumstantial.  Certainly not.  If it were so, we would have to discount Noah and the Ark, Moses and the Red Sea, Daniel and the Lions Den and so many other stories.  However, notice simply that each of the stories are the direct result of a powerful Diety and a planted Human standing in trust, waiting in faith.  These individuals had already been saved.  They were already delivered… .on the inside.  They were able to believe Divinity in the midst of the torrents, the armies and the lions.  These were not individuals looking for thrills and dangerous situations.  These were not individuals running to become heroes and martyrs.  These individuals were occupied with conserving their ideologies about Divinity and saving other lives!  So they planted their feet and walked by faith.  Rather than riding the wings of chariots.

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