It has been a few years since my friend Carey Dean (who is at fault for just about anything that goes wrong in my life), has given me an assignment. In the old days, Carey would wake before the crack of dawn, and blame the Lord for it. In those moments, he would be greatly inspired and would do his best to inspire the rest of us on his ministry team. It worked for the most part.
However, there are two things that stand out in my mind that I didn't just jump right on board with. The first was a video marathon of a one man act depicting maybe his death and journey into eternity. I really am fuzzy on the details, because I just was NOT impressed with the presentation. I thought the script fell on the cheesy side and that the acting was mediocre at best. We came to the end of the drama (thank goodness... I thought) and I turned to my friend Carey, who was at my right side, but behind me, ready with a sarcastic remark -- and he sat there with tears streaming down his cheeks because he had been so moved. I quickly shut my mouth and moved on.
The second time was a fascinating study through Watchman Nee's Authority and Submission. This was brought to us by Carey after his back surgery and subsequent hours lying flat on his back. It is amazing what can happen when you are confined to your home for such long periods of time. So... Authority & Submission it was. To say I was excited about learning how to be submissive is a bit off the mark. I will admit that I learned many things that have stayed with me for all these years... and to my credit, I was really good with everything for about the first four or five chapters. But by chapter seven, I was done. I don't remember if I literally threw my book across the room, but I am certain I did so figuratively.
So, when Carey was gracious enough to listen to me whine (again) the other night and gave me a new assignment... I couldn't help but enter my thought process with a little timidity. But this study (which is ongoing) has been a much-needed exercise to my worn out soul. My assignment was to do a word study on the phrase "but God". But I felt I still needed to perform a penance from my bad thoughts of W. Nee... I didn't go online for my research, but spent about an hour going through my hard cover exhaustive concordance. And... I will spend more time still.
The great thing about my friendship with Carey and his family, is that once you have been shown a path... the journey is yours to take. You can take whatever exit ramp or off-road path you like. I am certain that my path will not mirror the Dean path... but we may see some of the same sights. Studying the Word with them is like standing next to each other at the rim of the Grand Canyon and relating what you see. It will be the same TRUTH overall, but from wonderfully unique angles and perspectives.
Since this is still a study in progress... I will only share what my initial impressions are at this point.
I began by simply listing the verses as I came across them in the concordance. Then I went through the scriptures and made notes of the meat of the verse. It became apparent to me that a good majority of the scriptures could be seen in a negative light. Phrases like "But God did not deliver; But God will wound; But God will rebuke; But God will destroy" would simply add fuel to the fire that constantly burns at the feet of the non-believer. And I have to admit that I was not in a great frame of mind when I started this... which is why the negative was probably brought to my mind. And then Truth reared its head.
God is not a negative God. That is not His attribute. (Something I learned in another Bible study with Mr. Dean - but with Tozer - that I enjoyed much more) If He is forbidding me to boast - that is not a negative action, though the word "forbid" is negative on its own merit. It is because of His great love for me that I am forbidden to boast. It is by His great love that He is my judge. That He demonstrates His love.
It is by His great love that He shows me I am not to call any man unclean. I have to admit that in the past few days, that has not just been my temptation... but my reality.
But God calls me to live by faith the Truth of His promises.
And so... the study continues...