articlesqa February 29, 2016 moving in
Ifeoluwapo Eleyinafe Article by Ifeoluwapo EleyinafeCreator and author of

Chris­tians do not move out. They move in.

No Way Out

To­day a friend told me about a deep sor­row in his life. He is a Chris­t­ian. But he has prob­lems that he has been talk­ing to God about and no so­lu­tions have ap­peared. “No one else has these prob­lems,” he says, “or at least no one as as many as me.” What the prob­lems ac­tu­al­ly are, he is not ready to say. The more im­por­tant thing to him is that he feels trapped. He ad­vances on the world with a sword, at­tack­ing it and des­per­ate­ly try­ing to win him­self any so­lu­tion. But the more he fights, the more he grows weary and the more the prob­lems seem to get big­ger and stronger. He can­not see a way for­ward. He can­not see a strat­e­gy and all his stabs at the dark find only empti­ness. Walls grow up around him and now are clos­ing in.

Now I tried and I tried to of­fer him a so­lu­tion. I tried to give him the pat­terns that al­ways pro­duce so­lu­tions. Pray I say and God will an­swer. Read the Bible: there is al­ways a way in the Word. Seek and fol­low the wis­dom of those far­ther along in the Way. But he is too smart for me. “If these were mat­ters of faith,” he says, “then I could wait. But time is short and lives are wast­ing away. I need a so­lu­tion now!” He has al­ready looked to­wards the Fa­ther and talked to the Fa­ther but can hear no an­swer. All the oth­er Chris­tians around him seem to hear read­i­ly from God. But for him, at least on these things that are press­ing in like dag­gers, not even an echo ac­com­pa­nies the lone­ly si­lence.

And so my friend now finds him­self at a fork in the road. He stands at the door: in­side but he is fac­ing out. He loves the Lord but he is hun­gry. He wants bread to feed his hunger but all he has is the Bread of Life and Je­sus seems ephemer­al. He needs a “real” way out but all he knows is the Way. He needs a strat­e­gy, a means of un­tan­gling the world and forc­ing it to make sense. But all he has is the Truth. “God has se­duced me,” he says. “He has se­duced me into fol­low­ing Christ and now I am the desert.

Can a man quench his very phys­i­cal thirst by drink­ing the Wa­ter of Life? Can a man fill his stom­ach by eat­ing the Word alone? Has He not said, “Man shall not live by bread ... alone”? Matthew 4:4.” Where can he go? Where can he turn? My friend does not seem to de­sire evil. He does not want to run away like the prodi­gal son. But he is find­ing no so­lu­tions in the Fa­ther’s house. Maybe some­where, out in the world, and along its many broad ways there is an es­cape for him. But be­fore he goes, I write to him the fol­low­ing:

Many Ways Out

It’s fun­ny that you should men­tion the prodi­gal son. I’ve read this para­ble many times and only just re­al­ized that this is not the sto­ry of a spe­cif­ic son in a spe­cif­ic time and place. His sto­ry is our sto­ry. His sto­ry is the hu­man sto­ry. The first prodi­gal sons were Adam and Eve. They walked away from their Fa­ther. Their rea­son for leav­ing: “God was hold­ing them back from be­com­ing like Him.” Then the next prodi­gal son was Adam’s first born and he walked away by killing his broth­er. Why? Well, he felt that God didn’t love him enough. And on and on it goes.

The Bible is God’s litany, God’s song of lament over His many prodi­gal sons and daugh­ters. Can you now hear the Voice of the Shep­herd mourn­ing over His lost sheep? Oh there are a few stand outs here and there like Enoch, Eli­jah, Deb­o­rah and Es­ther but the gist is the same. Every­one walks away and even runs away from God be­cause it ap­peared at the time that the an­swer to their needs and de­sires could be found away from the Fa­ther.

My friend, the Word is a dou­ble edged sword and you have only just felt the first bite. Yet, I must wound you more and even deep­er Proverbs 27:6. Do you now see that you are not the first? There have been many ways and there will al­ways be many “rea­sons” to walk away. Many rea­sons to take your in­her­i­tance of free­dom, right­eous­ness and wealth and go out into the world seek­ing that which you al­ready have. And now you stand in line like all that came be­fore you telling me that you have “dis­cov­ered” a rea­son too.

A rea­son that looms like a tow­er­ing moun­tain al­most high enough to block our Fa­ther’s Face. My broth­er, many and broad are the ways the flee away from our Fa­ther. Odd­ly enough, if you flee along one of them, you will find your­self tak­ing them all. You will be­come a mur­der­er like Cain, a thief like Ja­cob, an adul­ter­er like David, a trai­tor like Bal­aam and so on and so on. God for­bid that your mad­ness is only even­tu­al­ly re­strained by time, that faith­ful plod­ding ass 2 Pe­ter 2:16.

One Way In

And yet no mat­ter how many ways he took, the prodi­gal son was only able to walk in two di­rec­tions: out or in. Whether in bold flight or hum­ble re­pen­tance, his path was al­ways ori­ent­ed by God’s po­si­tion. In fact, there are only two di­rec­tions in all of cre­ation: you can ei­ther be mov­ing away God or you can be mov­ing to­wards God. The sin­ner moves out and is con­found­ed. Her iden­ti­ty is shred­ded and un­rav­eled. The Chris­t­ian re­pents by mov­ing back in and finds that her Fa­ther has nev­er for­got­ten her name. She moves in and finds that she had al­ways pos­sessed what she was look­ing for.

When prob­lems arise and the Face of the Lord seems dark and only thun­der sur­rounds, the Chris­t­ian moves in Ex­o­dus 20:21, 1 Kings 19:10-13, Job 19:25-28, Es­ther 4:15-17, Psalms 27:13-14. David, even while flee­ing from Saul and his own son Ab­sa­lom, was al­ways in pur­suit of God Acts 13:22. He was chased out away from his peo­ple and away from his king­dom but he was al­ways mov­ing in, clos­ing in on God. Young men and young women will look out, move out and out of all their strength, can only cre­ate weari­ness Isa­iah 40:30. But those who move in, though they are weary, will sud­den­ly find strength Isa­iah 40:28-29, 31. When prob­lems arise, a sin­ner moves out. But a Chris­t­ian re­pents and moves in.

And when we say, “moves in”, we do not mean that she buries her­self in her­self or that he buries his head in the sand. We mean the same thing thing we talked about in the first post about the Prodi­gal Son. The worst part of what you are go­ing through, broth­er, is lone­li­ness. You do not de­sire to aban­don God but you feel that God has al­ready aban­doned you. You can­not see Him in any of this. You can­not hear Him for all the noise. The worst part then is this dis­tance, this sep­a­ra­tion you now feel be­tween you and Him. It is the shad­ow of what Je­sus felt on the cross when He cried, “My God, My God, why have You for­sak­en Me.” Psalms 22:1, Mark 15:34 You feel that He is not you and you are not Him. He doesn’t even seem to be try­ing to know what you are go­ing through. So it seems log­i­cal that if He has left you, then you should leave Him?

Not so broth­er. Not so sis­ter. This is noth­ing but the trick of the dev­il. To Adam and Eve, the dev­il said, “Leave God be­cause God is hold­ing you back.” To you he is says, “Leave God be­cause God has left you.” But Je­sus on the cross, even af­ter ques­tion­ing His Fa­ther, an­swers the ques­tion by say­ing to His Fa­ther, “Into your hands, I com­mit my Spir­it.”Luke 23:46 I know you stand at the door, your hand on the knob and your mind and feet al­ready miles away. I know this lone­li­ness is a re­al­i­ty for you. In all of time and space, noth­ing is more lone­ly than this place and this mo­ment. You can­not at all feel His Pres­ence and there is no strong urge to build an al­tar here Gen­e­sis 35:6-7, Matthew 17:2-5.

Yet for all this, you have a choice. You can choose, like Je­sus, to use this dis­tance from God as a means to pur­sue God. He has not fled. Yet even if you think He has, pur­sue Him. In time, you may die be­fore you see Him. In space, you may nev­er catch Him to bind Him. But do not for­get that He has made you of both earth and spir­it. There­fore, in ad­di­tion to mov­ing with­in time and space, you also move with­in the di­men­sion of eter­ni­ty. And in eter­ni­ty, every­one who asks has al­ready re­ceived Him Matthew 6:8. In eter­ni­ty, every­one who seeks has al­ready found Him. Even be­fore you knock, He al­ready stands at the door, beck­on­ing Matthew 7:7.

You may choose to pur­sue Him by seek­ing like a hunter or by wait­ing at His Door. But make sure that you choose to trans­form this painful dis­tance be­tween you and God into a means of pur­su­ing God Mic­ah 7:7. Don’t let Him get away. He can­not es­cape you ... since He is the One pur­su­ing you.

I do not know how Je­sus did it. Hun­dreds, He per­formed hun­dreds, maybe thou­sands of mir­a­cles while He walked the earth. Yet His Word in is the most Mirac­u­lous. “I Am The True Vine and My Fa­ther Is The Vine Dress­er.” A short sen­tence. An Eter­ni­ty of mean­ing. Thou­sands of years ear­li­er in God told Moses His Name. “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Say this to the peo­ple of Is­rael: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Thou­sands of years lat­er, stir­ring up dust as He walked with His dis­ci­ples, Je­sus Christ, our Burn­ing Bush, not only re­veals Him­self but also Names The Holy Trin­i­ty. “I Am The True Vine and My Fa­ther Is Th...
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“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” - Colossians 2:3