December 28, 2011

Entering the Ark, Entering the Rest of God

“Can I say I have been warned of God, and moved with fear, to fly to this Ark? Have I discovered my shelter-less state by nature, the waves and billows of wrath rising and rolling against me? Have I seen my own inability to provide an Ark for myself, and the excellency and fitness of the Ark of God’s providing?

Have I been made willing to abandon all false arks, and [made] inquisitive [of] how to get into the true Ark? Have I been made willing to use all appointed means for this end, to read, hear, meditate, pray, repent, believe, essay [try] to climb up the sides of the Ark, and press to get in at the door thereof?

Have I been willing to venture my all in the Ark, like Noah, notwithstanding the discouragements, scoffs, and hatred of the world for so doing? Have I willingly acquiesced, sheltered, and lodged my soul in God’s Ark, and been made to say, “This is my rest for ever, here will I dwell? Come what floods will, Christ shall be my Ark, His righteousness alone my refuge and hiding place.”

From: Sacramental Meditations and Advices, by Rev. John Willison, 1821. Full-text is available on Google Books.

Published nearly 200 years ago, Willison’s words are a real challenge to anyone seeking to closely follow Jesus Christ in 2012 and beyond.

I discovered Willison’s book while browsing for devotional materials on The Internet Archive, a resource you should experience. Written in the 1740s and published in 1821, Sacramental Meditations and Advices is an inspirational source for knowing God more fully.

The world, as it is and has been since Noah’s time, requires us to seek the protection and safety of God’s Ark—Jesus Christ. No one who is honestly aware of the world’s condition truly believes she or he can meet the world on the world’s terms and experience lasting peace and purpose.

I must be willing to abandon all false arks---worldly priorities (reasoning apart from God), rule and ritual following, “good” behavior—and embrace the shelter Christ offers. He is The Ark.

How teachable am I in learning and knowing God’s will for me? Do I want what God has for me, or do I want God to endorse, support, and bless what I (or others) have chosen? Do I earnestly accept there may be conflicts between what I want and what God wants? Am I still debating within myself about whose preference will prevail? Why do I sometimes trust the world more than I trust the world’s Creator and Sustainer?

Moved by fear, Noah built an ark before it rained. Fear can be a good motivator if I am honest enough to admit there are some situations I should not face because God has warned me away from them. Noah believed God’s warning: the rains will come; destruction will follow. Noah did not want to die in the flood, nor did God want him to die in the flood. Noah followed God’s directions and built the ark as instructed. Noah’s ark preserved his life, the lives of his family, and the lives of all creatures entering the ark. Finally, God Himself shut the door to the ark, guaranteeing the safety of those inside. The seventh chapter of the Book of Genesis describes these events.

FEAR has been called False Evidence Appearing Real. Not so. I don’t want to fear every unknown circumstance, but there are some things that are truly dangerous and very real and should be feared because of what those things will do to us. We are eternal creatures, but we are not unlimited creatures. Have no doubt: we are damageable.

If I rest in God’s way and will, I will experience some fear, but I will not have to live under the blinding power of constant fear. I can live securely in the Ark of God’s Safety, watch the rain, and ride out the storm. Having been warned of God, and moved by fear, I can enter God’s rest.

“Come what floods will, Christ shall be my Ark, His righteousness alone my refuge and hiding place.”

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