Ishmael's "Fading Glory"? Or Isaac's "Ever-Increasing Glory"?! Part 2
“BURN-IN” for the ULTIMATE Final Product
To explain why the Father drives us to our knees in desperation or anguish or confusion at times, a brief “high-tech” illustration might be beneficial. Jesus lived in a world of farmers and fishermen. I’m an engineer. What can I say?! Be patient with me!
The computer manufacturing industry discovered, after carefully evaluating computer failures, that the vast majority of computer chips that fail do so within the first six months after the computer is put into operation. Generally, if a chip in a computer makes it through the first six months, it will last a long, long time. As computers became more and more a part of extremely critical systems in hospitals, aircraft, national defense and other high-risk operations, it was apparent that “no” failures of the computer chips could be allowed. Yet, realistically, some failures, due to manufacturing defects, vendors’ quality control and uncontrollable circumstances, were just going to happen. So what could the chip and computer manufacturers do?
One of the premiere computer makers, in recognizing that virtually all of the chip failures were going to happen in the first six months (if they were going to happen at all), had an idea. They decided that they would ship only computers that had been “run” for six months in order to prove their reliability. This would guarantee that there would be statistically very, very few failures due to manufacturer’s defects after shipment. But it also would create another dilemma. How does a company run every computer that they manufacture for six months before they ship them? Practically speaking. And still make money. Stay with me now.
“Aging” the chips for six months before the product is delivered to the customer is achieved, not in buildings crowded with hunchbacked employees pecking away at computer keyboards for six months at a time, but in one weekend in special ovens. The process is known as “burn-in.” If the chips typically operate at five volts, then they might be “exercised” at about seven and one half volts, under an electric field, in 85 degrees Centigrade. In this way, with all of the additional load, the chips “age” six months in two days—and are proven reliable, or faulty, before the true tests (in space shuttles or cardiac care units).
That’s man’s wisdom. Can you see why, just possibly, in Almighty God’s Wisdom He might press you to the limits of your endurance? El Shaddai, Jehovah, Adonai, the Creator of the Galaxies has a mighty Task to do in the next few years, it would seem. And He’s pledged to use men, walking in the same Fellowship, clothed with the same Power as the Man Jesus to do it.
For a Holy Cause like that...could you step outside your own plans and priorities and desires and feelings and pain in order to offer your life up for His Purposes? Will you allow Him to refine you and take you through a “burn-in” process? Without you jumping to grab a “Hagar” of worldly “logic” at the first sign of “a cup” or “an hour” or an offense to your ambition and pride?
Hear me! I’m not into being “stupid”—but I jealously defend the essentiality of “leaning not on our own understanding.” “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” is not a verse about “evangelism” alone. It is the whole battle of man’s existence. It is Nimrod’s Tower of Babel. It is Saul’s “sacrifice.” It is Moses’ staff shattered on that Rock. It’s Moses’ appetite for the humanistic counsel of his father-in-law, a pagan priest! It is Korah and Miriam’s rebellions. It is Uzzah’s error, the Israelites’ golden calf, Nadab and Abihu’s “strange fire,” Adam’s Fall, and Abraham’s baby boy Ishmael. It’s so natural, so “logical”—and so unfruitful and dangerous. And it certainly doesn’t have to be that we would fall for this “oldest trick in the book” when there’s a job to be done, a problem to be solved, or hurts to be healed. We can, if we know God’s nature and have a selfless heart, stand fearlessly “naked and unashamed.” Vulnerable to criticism and scoffing, and in full knowledge of our inadequacy for the task of living...yet unwavering in our trust of God and refusal to take matters into our own hands.
Our Father and the “Captain of the Lord’s Host” are looking for seasoned, wise, valiant warriors for the mission that our generation has been assigned. He can “make a man out of you” and bring you to the Field of Battle much wiser and stronger than your physical years would predict—if you’ll yield to the training, the “burn-in.” Will you allow God to take you to a place that you’ve studied all about, but may never have really been to—the Cross? Your cross?
The rebuke of Jesus: “Get behind me, satan!” was to one who wanted to “short-circuit” the walk of the Cross. The objectionable nature of the “injustice” of our pain (in the rare cases when we don’t truly deserve the pain) will always test our Faith, as will our pride or ambition when we’re on the verge of some perceived form of failure in our church. It will place us in a situation where we will turn to our own resources, or the resourcefulness of the world system (Egypt) with its marketing ploys, manipulation, and cheap psychology, in order to energize this baby! Or, if we’re not quite so talented, we may be tempted to quit altogether. Or, if we’re really “on,” we’ll do the thing that is a “stumbling stone” to the religious, and “foolishness” to the intellectual and seasoned businessmen—we’ll “wait on the Lord” (hand and foot!) and more fully trust in Jesus Christ and His Father than we ever have in our lives, no matter what the challenge or difficulty! Hallelujah, what a Savior! How else will you ever know Him, or yourself? How else will He ever transform you into the Image of the Son, in Glory? A BIG, BIG job like that is going to take some heavy-duty burn-in, wouldn’t you say!? Don’t fight God and answer your own prayers, and rob yourself of His supernatural Work, OK?
Certainly this book is about the Church, yet it is inescapable that if we, as individuals, turn to “Egyptian” means to “help God out,” we can do no differently as a church. As disciples of His, Christians, our objectives for our life and family are to be the same as those of the church, not in separate categories. It is impossible to function in communion with Him in so-called “religious” areas if our lives can’t readily be described (by any unbiased observer) as “in Him we live and move and have our being.” You knew that.
Are you willing to suffer injury and affliction and humiliation, rather than run ahead of God? Can you “wait on the Lord,” even an entire lifetime if need be, before you will “bail yourself out” and answer your own prayer? Will you trust your Father, the Almighty Equipper, to “finish the work” in you? Are you willing for your church or life to be a “failure” rather than turn to “Egyptian” marketing schemes, impassioned motivational appeals to carnal appetites of pride or power or position in the church (“You too can be or have _____!”), peer pressure, flattery, guilt techniques, and slick church “growth” methodology?
Most of the last 2000 years of religious history is the chronicle of tens of thousands of individuals, families and churches naïvely birthing a battalion of Ishmaels, to the devastation of the “Peace that passes understanding,” “life abundant,” and the Eternal Purposes of God.
Nobody, including Jesus or the unbelieving world, much likes what we’ve had to show for our “beginning in the Spirit and now trying to attain our goals by mere human effort.” You don’t...I know you don’t. You can’t like seeing the lukewarmness around you that dares to wear Jesus’ wonderful Name (meanwhile claiming “grace” to cover the shame of their worldliness and attitudes and speech). So unlike the life and teaching of our Jesus. You can’t possibly enjoy the politics and greed and deceit that fills the “church” world. You can’t be at peace with the likelihood that the person you break bread next to in the gathering of the church could easily be a practicing homosexual. Or possibly the “member” next to you “lifting unholy hands in prayer” is a selfish, hateful parent or spouse, or a materialistic unbeliever—and you are virtually helpless in your environment to even know, let alone help.
A man on TBN recently quoted a national survey that says that even the leaders of the majority of “churches” see the futility of it all, in its current form. Their broken dreams and unfulfilled lives say it all, unfortunately. Seventy percent of the full-time leaders of churches in this country would quit, if they felt as if they could make a living doing something else. That can’t be right. Can we please rethink all of this?!!!!