Dear Luli,

Many things happening these days, most of which are internal. I have never known such nothingness, Luli, no not even in my Romans Seven days. Most recently, I found myself screaming, "I hate her guts! I hate her guts!" to the Lord. In addition, I told Him that I quit, and that she could be responsible for her own spiritual life like everybody else. And I meant it. Moreover, I said I would never let anyone get close to me ever again, and I began to plan how I would live my new aloof lifestyle. I was saying and believing all this very vehemently. Right in the midst of it, though, (I mean right in the midst of it) my heart just broke for this girl, and the Lord in one grand act just raised me from the dead. I was stunned, Luli. I've been raised from the dead many times, but I really thought I'd gone over the line on this one. As I staggered into the living room, I picked up a bible and began reading in Exodus about the early days of Moses when he killed the Egyptian and then tried to break up the two Hebrews fighting. To which one replied, "Will you kill me too, like the Egyptian?" The record then says that "Moses feared saying, 'Surely this thing is known!"' and that he "fled from the face of Pharaoh." It then occurred to me to read the same account in Hebrews 11. The faith chapter, right? There you get a very different account of what happened. Strikingly different. It says, "By faith Moses, when he came of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king. . . " Hmmmm. Well, I suppose the "careful" bible student would say that surely all this refers to Moses the second time around. Perhaps. But I read on. Next I came to Peter in Luke 22. There Jesus says, "Simon, Simon! Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren." My question is, "Was Jesus' prayer answered?" "Did Peter's faith fail?" It sure looks like it. He denied Christ three times and then basically fell apart. I then came to Sarah. I won't try to quote all the pertinent passages in Genesis, but I think you will agree that the general drift concerning Sarah is mostly non-committal or at best ambivalent. As late as a year before the birth of Isaac, she is laughing at the idea and won't even admit that she does. Yet back in Hebrews we find it saying, "By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised." I think we see a trend developing. Finally, I looked at Christ himself in John 12. There he is saying, "Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour?' But for this purpose I came to this hour. 'Father, glorify your name. "' But what do we find him saying just a short time later but basically, "Father, save me from this hour". All this led me to understand that we call it faith when it looks good, seems strong, feels believing. But He calls it faith when it dies.

On the other side of the spectrum (that is, of faith), I think I'm beginning to understand at least a little better some aspects of intercession (though much remains mysterious). One part that has continually puzzled me is the enigma that if it is indeed God's heart and desire that I feel towards Lynette, then why do I find myself, many times, in the role of convincing Him of it? What I mean is that on the one hand I have been riveted to the depths in seeing how much He wants this girl. It's a new place for me. I've seen His passion. Now I'm seeing His obsession. That's the only word I know to describe it, for He is almost madly pursuing her. Then, on the other hand, there seems to be a place where He at least appears to hold back for some reason, to stop as if we're deciding whether it's worth it all or not. Of course the only reason I know about any of this is that it is happening in me, otherwise I'd be oblivious to the whole thing. That seems to be the special place of intercession. Most of the time, I think, we just leave the person to the Lord, leave the convincing to the Holy Spirit. It occurs to me, though, that what if once in a while, in an act of intimacy, the Lord decides to take us along on one these pursuits, to pull back the veil just a bit where we get a behind the scenes look at what He does every day? I can see us now, walking through the forest and He's carrying one end of a load and I'm carrying the other--co-laborers in wonderful fellowship. But then at some predetermined point He stops. . . and actually puts down His end of the load. I'm puzzled as I stand there still holding up mine. After all, He's the one who started this whole thing, and now that I've seen and caught His heart about the situation, I'm confused as to why He would hold back now. So I sort of pull with my end hoping He'll get the hint. He doesn't. He just stands there. I look at Him in disbelief and this time I give an all-out tug. He, however, remains steadfast.  A certain stubbornness (maybe with a touch of anger) begins to arise in me now, and I with my end, having been completely taken over by His heart, turn and step forward, determined to drag Him if I have to. To my surprise, however, He simply picks up His end and follows me! I say to Him, "Lord, I don't understand—why did You stop?" His reply is, "I was waiting for you to lead." And, you know, we'll never know what He feels as God (fellowship with Him on that level) until we're in the driver's seat. It makes me think of the old Master/Apprentice relationships where the Master, if he was truly wise, would after years of instilling his craft in his disciple, actually pull back and appear to take on an adversarial role, calling into question all that had been taught. The intent was to cause the apprentice, fueled by his Master's passionate instruction all those years, to "come up over" his teacher. Only in that way could he finally become a Master himself and know his Mentor's heart from the inside. So with me. What looked like my convincing Him was really His way of casting my heart with His intent. This was more than a loyal following or agreeing with His plan—even passionately. Much more. His agenda had become my agenda. 

nick