Job 13:15 π Amos 3:3 π Mt. 10:28 π Lk. 9:25 π Lk. 12:11-12 π Acts 4:13 π Rom. 6:18 π Rom. 12:2 π 1 Cor. 6:20
In America, which has enjoyed emancipation from slavery for over a century, we have lost almost all connection with the concept that people can be owned. Oh, were we to be honest with ourselves, we would realize that we are "owned" by our master passions in life, but we seldom stop to consider ourselves as property which can be bought, sold or transferred on the whim of the one who owns us. Perhaps it would be good if we could return to that concept somewhat, especially for those of us who call ourselves "Christians."
Paul wrote, "For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." ( 1 Cor. 6:20; top ) We Americans are often ignorant and unaware of just what the implications of that ownership are.
At age 10, an American boy named Tim Lee gave his life to Jesus. Over the next several years, he gradually grew to a point where he was virtually running from God, making promises to God that he never really intended to keep. That is, he was running until one day when, after a decade of avoiding God, his legs were blown off when he stepped on a land mine during the Vietnam war. All his running stopped then as he made one more promise to God and he kept it. Tim Lee has served the Lord as pastor and then as an evangelist for nearly twenty years since that explosion that completely changed his life.
Tim recalls that his dad, shortly after Tim had first given his life to Christ as a boy, told him, "Tim, these are not your eyes anymore. These are not your hands. These are not your feet. They belong to Jesus." Now, after having lost both legs, Tim recognizes the extreme lengths to which God will go to get a man's attention. Tim, in his wheelchair and his handicap, loudly proclaims his gratitude to God for having gotten his attention and preventing him from entering hell with both legs running at full speed.
But there is an aspect of this story that comes chillingly home to all of us. We all have "legs" that we use to run from God - whether that be self-will that causes us to participate in blatant worldliness or some besetting sin that has enticed us with desire or simply negligent busy-ness that causes us to skip "devotions" or to shorten our quiet time alone with God. Anything that causes our disobedience to God are the "legs" with which we run to hide from God when He comes to walk with us in the cool of the day in the garden of our soul. Each of us needs to come to grips with whatever it is in our life that keeps us from knowing, loving, and serving God with all of our soul, mind, strength, and spirit.
Is it your husband or wife? Or the desire to have a husband or wife? Are you unwilling to submit completely to God because you feel you must please your mate? Or are you unwilling to submit entirely to God because He hasn't provided you with a mate?
How about lust or fear or confusion? Is there someone or something you just have to have before you can fully surrender to serving God with all of your being? (see Lk. 9:25 ) Or are you afraid of what others will think about you or do to you? (see Mt. 10:28 ) Do you feel that you are inadequately prepared or insufficiently educated to carry out the work of God? (see Acts 4:13 ; Lk. 12:11-12 ) Are you unsure of what God's will and plan for your life is? (see Rom. 12:2; top )
Or is it gossip, slander, and evil communication that prevents you from truly walking in oneness with God? (see Amos 3:3 ) Do you find that, rather than telling all your secrets about others to God in prayer, you must tell them to your best friends? Do you find that the truth is inadequate and the story must be embellished? Do you find that curses, profanity, and coarse, lewd jokes are still the normal means of communication for you?
Or do you insist on refusing to forgive someone? Do you let anger, malice, rage, anger, spite, envy, or covetousness keep you from truly experiencing God's presence in ever-deeper ways?
Or do you have your own private agenda that prevents selfless service to God and which conflicts with the activities that promote a relationship with God through Christ Jesus? Do you refuse to submit to all the laws of the land because you refuse to see the authority over you which God Himself has given to the government?
Are any of these things the "legs" which you use to run and hide from God? Are these the things which perpetuate sinful actions and attitudes and prevent you and God from enjoying pure fellowship with one another?
And yet the real question remains unasked. Are you willing to have God cut off the "legs" you are using to "run" from Him? After all, He has the right to. He owns you. You are His servant. Not a one of you would hesitate to fire an unproductive employee. No truly loving parent would hesitate to take steps to correct and remove inappropriate or dangerous behavior in a child. So why would God hesitate to remove something from your life which prevents you from truly knowing Him who is the source of all life and all goodness - especially after you have made such wonderful commitments to Him in prayer and in worship. "I surrender all..." we sing and yet we refuse to let God have His way in our lives. "You are the potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me, this is what I pray." Really?
And yet there is more. If God does exercise His rights and cuts off your "legs," are you still going to praise Him? Will you be like Job and say, "though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." ( Job 13:15; top ) Will you be like Tim Lee who lost his legs but still gives his life to the service of his Lord?
And yet there is still more to consider about ownership and slavery that we as Americans have become unfamiliar with. And in light of passages such as Rom. 6:18; top which says, "And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness," it is necessary for us to re-acquaint ourselves with some aspects of slavery so that we might be in obedience to God. A slave was bought and then expected to do whatever the master commanded. If the master was benevolent or capricious it mattered not. The master could have the slave killed or beaten for any act of disobedience or even if he just felt like it. A disobedient slave could expect severe punishment for any act which brought dishonor upon the master. Oh, that we could hear what the Spirit is saying to His people here! For we do not serve an abusive or capricious master. Our master is gentle, kind, wise, benevolent, and even loving. We have all the motivation to serve Him obediently with all that we are and do, yes, but we must never forget that He also knows how to make a whip to drive out the defilement from His temple which is our body, both individually and collectively as His people. And He knows equally well how to turn us over to those tormentors who will teach us to regret the consequences of our sinful living.
In closing, let's consider the alternative, an example of disobedience to God from the Old Testament. The prophet Jonah was commanded by God to go to Nineveh as quick as possible. Instead, in blatant disobedience, he ran from God by jumping on a slow boat to Tarshish, hundreds of miles in the other direction. God intervened and put Jonah back on track via the fish express to Nineveh - but not before the men on the slow boat to Tarshish suffered the loss of their cargo and nearly their lives. Jonah endured the fish's belly for three days before surrendering to God. After the fish delivered Jonah to Nineveh - literally puking him up on the shore - Jonah proceeded to deliver the message of impending judgment upon Nineveh and, believe it or not, the entire city of Nineveh repented. God, in His mercy, declined the judgment against Nineveh.
One might expect Jonah to be elated at the success of his ministry, right? Wrong! Jonah proceeded to pout and whine because he was so used by God. Why? Because Jonah secretly hated the Ninevites. He wanted to see them judged. He knew that God was merciful and would forego judgment if they would repent and turn from their wicked ways. Jonah did not want to see that. So rather than be obedient to God and participate in their salvation, he tried to run from God. But God was so interested in having Jonah confront this bigoted attitude in his own heart that He arranged the whole situation. After all, there were surely more prophets who could have gone to Nineveh and who would have loved to be so mightily used by God. But God wanted to remove Jonah's "legs," that hidden racial pride, that prevented Jonah from being closer to God and that kept him from being more like God in his innermost being.
The Bible doesn't tell us whether Jonah really learned his lesson or not, and I think that is fitting. For we are just like Jonah, running in disobedience. And the end of our story is not yet written either. While there is life there is hope that we will stop running and turn in obedience to God in all our ways. And if that is not possible, there is always hope that God in His mercy, will cut our "legs" out from under us before they propel us headlong into an eternal hell.
Note: I have lost track of how to contact Tim Lee Ministries. If anyone reading this has that information, please let me know so that I can include it here. I thank God for the precious insight He gave me as a result of Tim's simple message.
I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!