It’s 2:59am on a Tuesday morning and I can’t sleep. Historically, these are times when I am simply lost in thought and unable to settle the constant murmurings of a poetic mind.
Historically, these are nights when God speaks.
What will follow may not be a linear idea, but a collection of recent thoughts. Follow me, if you dare, as I wade deeper into the shallows of my subconscious mind.
My mini bout of insomnia may be from the emotional high of being with old friends and setting off fireworks in the middle of the night, or the aggravating water that’s been stuck in my ear since New Jersey, but more likely it is the Starbucks I drank at 11:30pm.
Four days ago my family drove from Indiana straight to Colorado. I was in charge of the night shift, and I happily accepted the responsibility. Four and a half minutes into taking the wheel, everyone was unconscious but me and I had nothing but worship music pulsing through my headphones and a black leather highway rolling beneath a ceiling of cloudy stars.
Those of you who know me know road trips are my second favorite thing in the whole world, and I was more than happy to spend hours behind the wheel whispering along to some Citizens and Loud Harp.
I have given up attempting to force the hand of the Lord. My emotional relationship with Him is complicated because He typically won’t return my calls and is way out of my league. But whatever it was, ever since the night I was a blur on I-70, I’ve felt nearer to Him.
I know many of you who read my blog have expressed to me sentiments of, ‘gosh, I sure don’t feel close to the Lord like that!’ And you’re goshdarn right. I usually don’t either. And neither did King David or most of the Psalmists. Nor did Jesus as He hung on the cross, bloodied for us, crying out to a Father who seemed to have abandoned Him.
We don’t worship a God who is foreign to our suffering.
The thing is, in John 10, Jesus talks about laying down His life for His sheep. The crazy thing is that we didn’t ask Him to do this. He did it entirely of His own accord and volition, and it turned out to be the best thing in the history of creation. The second thought that came to me as I was hagah-ing John 10 is this: Jesus didn’t promise to lay down His life for the sheep of other people’s pens. He never said that He would die for sheep who weren’t His. Rather, He died and rose again so as to give life to His sheep, and His alone.
Now, why is this such an earth-shattering epiphany? Well, in light of political and moral issues plaguing the world right now, believers can have peace knowing God’s plan of redemption is better and higher than anything we could think of on our own. In other words, it’s not our role to decide who we think is saved and who isn’t, based on their political standing, sexual history, or theological know-how. I’ve seen so so many of my friends get wrapped up in these issues, posting the hottest, newest, cleverest responses to a myriad of current events and issues, but what’s the point? Jesus knows His sheep and His sheep know His name. He is the Good Shepherd, and He really is the only one who knows what’s up.
I think too many Christians have taken their eyes off Jesus in order to wage war [in His name] against whatever issue they think is most pressing.
In the same breath/on a side note, I want to add that God calls us to be holy as He is holy. Leonard Ravenhill said that in order for something to be pure, it must be 100% pure. If something is 99.99% pure, it is impure and tainted. If we want to look like Christ, We must, must, must work toward holiness. And there is no such thing as 99% holy.
I’ve come to realize that the Bible does not soften its syntax when it speaks of God’s hatred of sin and impurity. We are a lot more prone to soften and dampen the Word of God so as to make sin seem less ugly and destructive than it really is. If God doesn’t feel the need to tip toe His way around our sin habits, shouldn’t we follow suit and perhaps change some of our language in order to declare the destructive nature of our depravity?
That’s about it for Late Nights with Ethan. Hope you enjoyed the ride. Tune in next time to hear Ethan sing 1970’s rock operas backward.