Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Our God is a consuming . . . summer breeze?

Over the weekend God has continued to teach me more--but not what my flesh desires. I've been rather frustrated with my time here in Turkey so far. I miss a lot of the comforts of home, the ease of conversing in English with no difficulties in comprehension or communication, and the fact that things make sense. I haven't really been able to have much in the way of opportunities to share the gospel so far, and I'm really itching for that. It seems like everyone I can actually talk with is a committed Muslim who stops at the belief that the Bible has been changed and is no longer trustworthy (prophecies foretelling the coming of Muhammad notwithstanding). Add all that together and it leaves me frustrated and angry with this place.

Elijah, similarly irate with the idolatry and stubbornness around him, fled to Mount Horeb and vented his frustrations to God (1 Kings 19). I think he wanted God to send his fire to consume his enemies and put an end to his sources of frustration, as he had done on Mount Carmel not long before (1 Kings 18). Yet God does not come in a violent wind, an earthquake, or fire, but rather in a gentle blowing (or "still, small voice", KJV).

Elijah obviously didn't get it: he repeated his complaints to God. Yet in showing himself not in fierce judgment but in a quiet whisper, in gentleness and restraint, God reveals his mercy to Elijah. He would've been fully justified in destroying the ungodly, but it wasn't the time. So Elijah had to carry on his mission for the rest of his life, even appointing another to carry on his prophetic work after his departure from this earth.

God is restraining his judgment for the sake of salvation, not out of weakness or ignorance (2 Peter 3.9). He is a God who has incredible compassion and wills that all men hear the gospel and respond in repentance and faith. Duh, this is why I'm here in the first place! It's precisely because his mercy is true and because he is full of compassion and love that I wish for others to know him. But instead I want him to nuke this place so I can go home. I want to hear, "You can go home now; I'm going to cut off these people." It's amazing how stupid I've become in taking my own salvation for granted. After all, if God had not been patient with America and with me, I too would be subject to the fullness of his wrath.

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