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Friday, August 26, 2016

Stealing God's Heart -- This is a Test, This Is So Much More than a Test

Have you ever wondered why God would need to test us? I have. I think back to school, when the teacher would give us tests as a device to measure our progress in the subject matter. Why would God need to measure where I’m at? Doesn’t He know everything already? Isn’t He omniscient?

His word does comment on this:

“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not” (Deut. 8:2, NKJV).

Still, why? Why would He need to come up with a test to find out what’s in our hearts? Can’t He just use His X-ray vision, look inside of us, and instantly come up with an answer? Tests are grueling! Often even painful! Why do we have to go through this stuff?

In this post and the next, I want to look into two specific examples of Biblical testing and see what we can pull out of them to help alleviate these questions that sometimes weigh on our minds.

Holy Spirit was talking to me about the first example I will share very recently. I was in the middle of an intense workout, and He chose that moment to drop into my spirit something that amazed me. (Yes, He likes to speak to me while I’m exercising to Jillian Michaels videos. He’ll communicate with us Spirit-to-spirit ANY TIME if we are tuned in and looking for it!)

As He so often does, He whispered a verse to me and began to explain it. This time the Scripture I heard clearly on the inside of me was, “Now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Gen. 22:12, NKJV).

He was initiating a conversation with me about Abraham’s ultimate test, and what it meant to Him.

The familiar tale unfolds like this: God asks Abraham for his heart’s treasure, Isaac, as a sacrifice. Abraham immediately obeys. The opening line of the story lets you know right off that the narrative that follows is about a test. “Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham…” (v. 1a)

But again, why? Did God need “test results” to figure out if Abraham was devout? The Supreme Creator exclaimed when the deed was done, “Now I know that you fear Me!”

Lord, did You not know before that moment, that Abraham feared You? In Your majestic omniscience, had You not already gathered that he loved and reverenced You? Don’t You already know that we love You, without testing us in such extreme ways?

Yes. God knew. And He knows. But foreknowledge is never the same as experiential knowledge. God wanted to experience Abraham’s passion in the deepest way possible. Head knowledge was not enough. He, too, longed for heart knowledge of His covenant partner’s love.

Abraham could have said no. God would have respected his no. He respects our no, each and every time we are not willing to go all the way there with Him. Our free will is completely intact, and He will never, ever violate it. But Abraham said YES, and that stole God’s heart away completely!

Here is something to consider, as you listen in to understand God’s thoughts and emotions on this matter. Is it enough for you to know in your head that God loves you, if that knowledge never reaches your heart? I looked back at some of my teenage journal entries recently. They are overflowing with prayers, longings, even begging God to know His love beyond my head and into my heart. Head knowledge never satisfied anyone. Each of us can profoundly, sometimes achingly identify with the lyric,

“I want to know what love is, I want you to show me
I want to feel what love is, I know you can show me…
Show me love is real, yeah, I want to know what love is”
                                                               - Foreigner

To know love. To feel love. To experience love. To drink of it exquisitely, to be consumed by it. To know that it is REAL. You and I and every human being on the planet long for that. Guess what? He does too. You were created in His image. That yearning in your heart directly reflects the Original Edition and His own longings. He made you just like Him. So you would long for Him too.

Even the words, “I love You,” out of our lips do not satisfy His burning desire, if He has not yet actually experienced our love. Listen to His heart when He expresses,

“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matt. 15:8, NKJV).

Can you hear the pain in His voice?

And again, “Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me…’” (Matt. 7:23, NKJV).

How will Jesus be able say that He never knew someone, when they stand before Him at the end of their life – if He knows everything and everyone? Here too, He is talking about experiential knowledge. This is the deeply personal knowing that comes through intimacy. The verb in Matthew 7:23 that is translated “knew” is the Greek ginosko. It means “to know…through personal experience” (HELPS Word-studies). The Lord will tell these people, “I never walked intimately with you. I was never allowed to experientially know your devotion. I never got to drink in heart knowledge of your love. You decided not to be Mine.”

Abraham gave Him the opposite. Abraham fulfilled the deepest longings of Daddy God. In this son’s ultimate act of devotion, God tasted a love that infinitely surpassed anything that He simply knew via foreknowledge.

It’s time to listen to these words again, with your deepest soul: “Now I really, really know! You have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me! Oh Abraham, how exquisite is your adoration! How it conquers My heart! How it causes My inner being to bubble up and spill over profusely with joy and pleasure! You have ravished Me with your worship!”

X-ray vision doesn’t cut it, folks. Daddy God craves our passionate love.

This is what the testing is for. It’s not about measuring progress or gathering data or awarding brownie points. God longs to know you the way He came to know Abraham. He is ablaze with desire to ginosko you. Holy Spirit is inviting you to understand -- when He asks for your own personal Isaac, it’s not because He’s mean and demanding. On the contrary – He is achingly yearning for you. He wants to take His relationship with you so much deeper. He wants to experience for Himself, to the very depths of His burning soul, how much you love Him. He wants to live out love with you.

Close your eyes and lean in. Listen -- He is singing to you: “I want to know what love is, I want you to show Me…”

Daddy God, You craved Abraham’s tangible love, and he gave You the experience You longed for. He conquered Your heart in actuality and became Your friend permanently. You yearn for my love, my fiery affection, my fierce devotion too. You desire to be my most intense passion, to be the One that I love the most. You are inviting me to let You feel the deepest depths of human love possible. I want to give You this experience too. I want to give You what You long for. I want to fulfill Your yearnings. Take me! Take all that I am! Take all that I long for, and make me wholly and completely Yours!

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