Saturday, June 27, 2009

Unable - and enabled

The trumpeters and musicians played together, praising and giving thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they loudly praised the Lord, singing: “Certainly he is good; certainly his loyal love endures!” Then a cloud filled the Lord’s temple. The priests could not carry out their duties because of the cloud; the Lord’s splendor filled God’s temple. (2 Chr. 5:13-14)

When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven. and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the Lord’s splendor filled the temple. The priests were unable to enter the Lord’s temple because the Lord’s splendor filled the Lord’s temple. (2 Chr. 7:1-2)

I've never been in a service where the leadership was unable to perform their duties because God's presence was so powerful, so I'm having a hard time imagining what this might have been like for Israel.

They had worked toward this day for years. Scripture tells us it took Solomon 20 years to build the temple and his house. With the careful preparations David made, we can be sure that the priests knew for a long time just what would be expected of them on that special day when God's temple would be dedicated.

When the day finally arrived, it didn't exactly look like they planned.

First, the glory of God was so strong they were "unable" to perform their duties.

Then, Solomon prayed and God's splendor - His "Shekinah" glory - so filled the temple they couldn't even enter.

I read that and I wondered - how many times have I been so engrossed in my duties or the planned agenda that I completely miss His presence? The important thing is God's presence ... not my duties or the planned agenda. I want to welcome His presence, not be so absorbed in 'doing' that I miss His presence.

The great thing about knowing we have the indwelling Holy Spirit is realizing that He is ultimately about enabling us to do His will, to walk in the gifts He's given us. But along the way, I might need to be made unable to do what I'd originally planned - because He has something better.

I recall the story of a concert pianist with high personal ambition who lost his sense of touch. He couldn't play, and was devastated until he turned his hands over to God. One day he sat down at a piano again and could suddenly touch. He remembered that promise, and now plays anointed worship music for conferences - the selfish ambition replaced with a desire for God's glory, the unabling becoming an enabling at last.

Significantly I think, there was no room in the temple for the priests because the temple was so filled with God. When my heart's cry becomes like John the Baptist's - "I must decrease, and He must increase" - then I will begin to know what His glory really looks like. When our churches focus less on our plans and more on His, then we just might find ourselves unable to continue ... but ultimately enabled for greater ministry.

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