While reading through the book of 2 Chronicles I found myself both intrigued and grieved by the ripple effect of a king’s choice of whether or not to follow and honor God.
When a king humbled himself and trusted the Lord, God gave him victory and granted his efforts success. When a king exalted himself and trusted his own efforts and acted on his own whims, many people paid with their lives. Kingdoms fell, God’s people were enslaved, and idolatry flourished.
Just today I read about how King Uzziah started out by seeking after God and God blessed him as a result. But then we read this in 2 Chronicles 26:16:
But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall.
Why are we so quick to idolize our own efforts?
Though a king’s choices have far more reaching effects than our choices, we must embrace the fact that our choices matter, and that people are deeply affected by whether or not we honor God and live a life of greatness.
Here are a few things I observed about greatness by reading about some of the Kings in the Bible.
Embrace your identity – obey Him fully.
Do you remember the story in 1 Samuel 15 when Saul did not follow through with obeying the Lord? This is what Samuel said to him, “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not leader of the tribes of Israel?” Saul had a job to do but he minimized the importance of his identity and his choices. We do the same thing.
We cower, we run, and we hide from the great things God wants to do in us and through us. We justify our partial obedience and we dance around the things God has asked of us. We put off taking our next step into the unknown zone because the comfort zone feels better to us.
And this is what the Lord says:
You may have forgotten how important you are to Me, but remember today. You may not understand your important place in history, but embrace it today. Are you not My beloved? Have I not promised to take you to high places? Do you not have access to all of the riches of Heaven? Remember who you are today. Obey me fully. No more hiding.
Humble yourself – trust His timing.
Do you remember the story of when David was in the cave with (a raging, jealous) Saul (1 Samuel 24)? Clearly the Lord had delivered Saul into his hands, right? David was a God-fearing man and even though deliverance seemed to be at his fingertips, he would not take it until the Lord gave it.
I can think of a number of times when my ‘dream’ was at my fingertips, there for the taking. But I knew deep inside it wasn’t my time yet. I would have had to drop the ball on something else to grab hold of what I believed God had promised me. It was so close, but not close enough to be mine yet. But when my time finally came, it was like plucking a ripe piece of fruit from a tree.
Are you there? This is what the Lord would say to you:
My beloved one, I have you. That dream in your heart? I put it there. Trust me in this, and see if I won’t establish you beyond your wildest dreams. I love to work mightily through my people, but first I must do a mighty work in them. Humble yourself before me; refuse jealousy or a competitive spirit; embrace Me, embrace My timing, and I will establish you. I promise.
Tune out the enemy – face down your fears
Remember when a young David faced down Goliath? By all appearances, David had no physical chance of winning a fight against this beast of a man. And Goliath knew it. He spewed all kinds of insults David’s way. But David didn’t acknowledge Goliath’s taunts. He refused to allow himself to be singled out. instead he spewed back, “Who is this Philistine that dares to defy the army of the Living God?” If David would have spoken to Goliath, he would have said something like this: ‘When you come against me, you come against the host of heaven, so don’t try to bully me with your insults. I am not alone in this battle and you are going down!” (okay, my paraphrase). 🙂
If the enemy’s voice rings loud in your ear, tune him out, and listen to what the Lord has to say to you:
My brave and precious one, you are not alone! Not by a long shot! Even if what the enemy says feels true to you, remember that I am true and I will establish you! This is not about your ability, it is about mine. You have a choice of whether to be brave or to cower in fear. Be strong and courageous. I am with you. I will not forsake you. And you cannot please me without faith. Put those fears under your feet and follow Me to the high places I have for you. We have a great adventure ahead. Remember, never allow yourself to be singled out. As My child, you are a part of something greater than you can imagine; and far greater are those who are for you than those who stand against you. Listen to My voice alone.
Though it’s important to cultivate skills and always be learning, it’s even more important to identify yourself as someone God loves and whom God has called. Hone your craft, practice your skills; be a great steward of the gifts God has entrusted to you.
But remember this: To truly walk in places that are far beyond your qualifications, to make an impact that is bigger than you are, you need God. You need to remember that it’s in His hands to make great. And He really wants to do great things through you.
Embrace Your Identity. Obey Him Fully. Humble Yourself before Him. Trust His Timing. Tune out the enemy. And face down your fears. That’s a recipe for greatness.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us (Ephesians 3:20).