I really like the story of Josiah. I don’t know how it really works out to be king at 8 years old, but I love what happens when Josiah is 16. 2 Chronicles 34 talks about how eight years into his reign, “while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David.”
I wonder why? What was going on in his kingdom that led him to seek God? Grandpa and dad had both been kings who “did evil” in God’s eyes, so what was different about Josiah? What freed him from their cycle of self-serving idol worship?
The spiritual climate students live in today may not be all that different from the cultural religion of Josiah’s day. Plently of idols to choose from, lots of god-options to ‘play with’, cultural approval of evil. But Josiah chose something different. At the age of 16, he shunned the gods his family had adopted from the surrounding nations in order to seek David’s God. At 20, he “began to purge Judah and Jerusalem” of the elements of worship to the false gods. Then at 26, he set out to restore the Temple and reacquaint his nation with the one true God who’d rescued them so many times before.
My prayer for students is that they’d be like Josiah and seek the God of David. I see many kids who have no idea who He is. Kids who’ve never even thought of the church as a point of contact with their Creator. Some of these have never been a part of the church, but some have grown up in the midst of God’s people, yet failed to meet Him.
How are we missing like this? What idols are we substituting, even in the church, into God’s place? It’s interesting that even without the Scriptures, Josiah’s heart longed for someone more than the false gods that surrounded Him. If the church is not holding up our Creator God who longs to rescue every heart that beats, then what are we doing? What will cause our young people to seek God like Josiah did?
If ‘liberate’ means something is set free, what happens when I deliberate?
We got back Sunday night from a trip to Auburn. I did a wedding on Friday night (8-08-08) for a couple of my former students, so we left here on Thursday the 7th. Since I had another wedding on the 16th for another couple of my former students in the same area, we decided to use some vacation time and just stay out there for the week. I swear, moms, that I did not provoke them to marrying. We never played spin the bottle at youth group or anything like that…
Both weddings went well (which means that they’re married, the mothers of the brides still have hair that has not been pulled out, and so do I) and we were ther for worship services both weeks. It was nice to see old friends and so many of my former students. The church seems to be doing really well and the new minister is a great guy. The regular guitar player was out of town the second week, so they asked me to lead worship. It was a blast to be doing that again.
On Monday we went up to Omaha and met Dave and Janice (who were celebrating a 1 year anniversary of a wedding which I did not incite, but enjoyed attending) for lunch. We were going to go to the art museum with them, but discovered it was closed. Apparently Monday is ‘closed-museum’ day. Who goes to the museum with 4 kids under 8 anyway?
We stayed in Omaha and Tuesday was Zoo Day. The Lincoln Children’s Museum was our destination on Wednesday, and we got to meet Cady for lunch.
I know they say you can never go home again, but it was a great visit to a body that became as much a church home as I’ve ever had. I’m grateful for the reminder of what can happen when people make themselves available to the shaping hand of The Creative God.
A few years ago I read Jim Cymbala’s Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. I remember being impacted by the thought of what God could do if we, the church, would really humble ourselves and seek Him in prayer. I started reading the book again the other day and I’m still convicted of the same thing: the church, in large part, doesn’t live a very full life when it comes to prayer.
Our prayer, too often, seems weak or even contrived. We pray because we’re ‘supposed’ to pray – at meals, at bedtime, at church… We pray when we want something. But do we “pray continually”? Do we pray just so we can talk with God? Do we spend time praying just to hear His Voice?
After Solomon had the Temple built in Jerusalem, listen to what God told him. “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” (2 Chronicles 7:13-16)
The eyes and heart of our Creator live where the prayers of His people are offered. If I’m not feeling very “in touch” with the heart of God, the first place I should look is at my inner life. Am I a person of prayer? Am I living a life that is characterized by a constant conversation with God? Only then will I be able to see the way He sees. Only then will I be able to love the way He loves.
A couple lines from my prayer journal last month asked God to “blow a fresh wind of Life into these bones.” “I’m tired of feeling burned. Can I have some new life?” Shortly after those entries, I became acutely aware of the lack of depth to the level of intimacy in my relationship with God. In a worship time at camp, at HeavenFest, and in this book, I’m hearing God’s answer: “Pray… Listen for Me… Stay with Me…”
It’s been a good reminder. Maybe you needed it to. Seek the Face of our Father. Let Him do what only He can do.