God won’t fit in your box
The recent weeks in US politics have proven that man’s vain attempts to force an agenda, even under the banner of prophecy, will come to NOTHING unless it is a work of the Lord. In the same way that Israel fashioned a calf made from the gold of necklaces and bracelets, so the church today can continue to perpetrate idolatry when we fashion a form of godliness in our own likeness, smelted in the furnace of our own ungodly ambitions and efforts. Let us allow Scripture to speak to us afresh and believe for the uncontainable God to explode our boxes and expand our horizons anew.
Genesis 17 – It was 25 years that was the time lag between promise and fulfilment for Abraham and Sarah. To make matters worse, they were old and well past the age of fertility. All their dreams and hopes for an heir seemed futile. Yet the Lord revealed himself to Abraham in the darkest season as El Shaddai. Michael A Eaton has written in ‘A theology of Encouragement’ on how Scripture shows the unique use of this name for God. El Shaddai is used in a typical self-disclosing pattern when God shows up to reveal Himself in the most difficult and desperate situations. In this the true meaning of El Shaddai is revealed as a God who helps the helpless, a God who delivers the powerless. God showed up to remind of promise and to seal it in the covenant of circumcision – now fulfilled in our water baptism.
Genesis 18 – we have this great story of the 3 visitors to Abraham and Sarah. The promise is repeated and the birth of an heir prophesied, yet Sarah in particular is finding it impossible to see outside her perceptual ‘box’. Her response of laughter is noted and rebuked,
“When the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, “Will I really have a child, now that I am old? Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” (Gen 18:13)
It is remarkable that the Lord was not happy with Sarah (or Abraham’s) ‘box’. Their lives had shrunk and they needed to get out of the small-minded box they were living in. God calls us as His people to live by faith not by sight. He calls us to live beyond the visible realm and to see and know Him who is invisible. We are called to trust every Word that He has given no matter what we face. By showing up as El Shaddai the Lord reminded Abraham and Sarah that He is the God who shows up and acts in the midst of the most difficult and desperate of times.
Perhaps through this pandemic you have lost hope? Hopeless is a box. It is time to remember El Shaddai. He does not get anxious or afraid of this pandemic. He is not stressed about the future of His church in the midst of this crisis. He shows up in the midst of the most dreadful of times, the most barren of times, and reiterates His promises and inheritance. It shall come to pass because He has promised!
What box is the Lord wanting to explode you out of in 2021? God spoke a new name over Abram and Sarai in anticipation of the new thing that he was about to bring them into, the fulfilment of promise. Abraham would indeed be the Father of nations. We need to take hold of the inheritance that the Lord has promised for our lives. We need to believe for revival. We need to believe that the mountain of the Lord will be chief among the mountains (Isaiah 2). What financial or relational need have we allowed to discourage us? We need to believe that when things are at their darkest and most depressing that El Shaddai is ready to show up and fulfil His Covenant promises. Nothing can stand in His way.
So what ‘box’ do we need to deal with in this moment? What are we laughing at like Sarah? What seems too far fetched that we have allowed despair to take over? Its time for ill-fitting boxes to shatter. Its time to ask ourselves the same rhetorical question,
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?‘ (Genesis 18v14a)