Friday, December 4, 2015

Riding in the Chariot…or Pulling the Cart?

“Then the men…took two milk cows and hitched them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. And they set the ark of the Lord on the cart, and the chest with the golden rats and the images of their hemorrhoids. Then the cows headed straight for the road to Beth Shemesh (back to Israel), and went along the highway lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right hand or the left. 1 Samuel 6: 10-12

 “Pulling the cart”
The Philistines had captured Israel’s Ark of the Covenant and were passing it from city to city placing it on display as they gloated in their victory in a recent battle with Israel. However, the sneering did not last long, for every city where they set the ark experienced a plague of rats and hemorrhoids. The Philistines finally had enough of these plagues and decided to send the ark back to Israel.

They placed it on a cart, along with a special gift of golden mice and golden hemorrhoids sent as trespass offerings to acknowledge the hand of God in their troubles. But to prove to themselves their plagues really were acts of God and not just coincidental, they found two cows that had never been yoked, hitched them to the cart, and sent them away leaving their calves at home. These cows, against their maternal instincts, and without human direction, walked away from those calves and pulled that cart toward the cities of Israel. They were being directed by the guiding hand of God. They went obediently, but “lowing as they went.”

 “Lowing as They Went”
The lowing represented their struggle at leaving their calves behind. This seems to describe certain phases of our own walk with God. There are times when obedience requires sacrifice and suffering. We obey and “pull the cart,” but “lowing” as we go. Lowing carries the idea of a deep sustained groan, and even has a note of sadness. It is a good picture of the internal struggle we often have to deal with when God is leading us to do something we would prefer not to do, something which may involve saying “no” to self.
In offering our services to God, we would love to “pull the golden chariot” and experience the glamor of riding in the glorious procession with everyone watching and appreciating our wonderful service and great work. But instead, we sometimes end up “pulling the cart,” which may contain golden mice and golden hemorrhoids. The cart represents a more humble place and one of potential suffering; and the only glory involved may be the ark of God’s presence that may be hidden from those who observe us as we pull the cart. The celebrity is with the chariot. The servant is with the cart. The one in the chariot is in the spotlight. The one with the cart is a spectacle. In the chariot you want people to see you. With the cart, you may be humiliated and prefer to be unnoticed.

 “The Seat…or the Cup?”
James and John asked for a “seat”, but Jesus offered them a “cup.” The seat represented position and honor; the cup represented suffering for Jesus’ sake. We want the glory of the “seat” (the position, the recognition), while Jesus may be handing us the “cup” of suffering for the testimony of Jesus, for the word of God, and sometimes for simply doing the right and godly thing. 
Often our initial motivation in offering ourselves to God’s service is to meet some inner, personal need for self-fulfillment. We think we are going to “pull a beautiful cart” that will make us look good, bring us recognition, and be full of beautiful contents. But God wants His purpose and His pleasure to take precedence over our need for fulfillment. The essence of godly service is not honor and preeminence but rather the life laid down. The Lord desires to mature us so that we are truly HIS servants, with a pure heart to please Him, do His will, and serve His kingdom purpose, rather than simply seeking self-fulfillment.

 “Suffering and Glory”
As His servants, we are willing to drive the chariot or pull the cart. We are willing to stand in the spotlight or sit in obscurity. We may receive the accolades of man, or we may see others get credit for our work. The attention we get may be the attention we don’t want.  Paul said that he and his fellow workers were put on display to be mocked and humiliated by the world.  In another place Paul was referred to as a “pestilent fellow” by those who rejected his message. He was offered up for God’s people. He was not celebrated as a celebrity but was cast into prison as a trouble-maker.

But in the midst of all this he experienced the glory of God. Many times Jesus appeared and spoke to him directly. He also spoke of visions and revelations of the Lord’s presence and of a visit to the third heaven. His life was definitely marked by the intensity that accompanies a genuine resolve to know and serve the Lord. Maybe we often do not experience the glory because we lack the boldness that brings both God’s power and conflict.

“They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on your right hand and the other on Your left hand, in Your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “…Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized. But to sit on My right hand and on My left is not mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.” Mark 10: 37-40


Gloria said...

Thank you for sharing this, is so important, in our culture, to remember that "the servant is not greater than his Master". Dying to self is the truth. Your posts always speak to the heart and to my heart.

Maria said...

Beautiful, Billy! Your teaching always goes so deep! I can't wait to share this message!

Billy Long said...

Thanks so much to my friends who take the time to read. And I do appreciate your comments. Bless you. ---Billy

hare-talk said...

Billy we always benefit from your insight into the scripture. Thank you
Your name is mentioned often at our home with love and appreciation.
Blessings of grace and peace and MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!!!