Knock, knock. We all knows what that sound means. Either you’re telling a joke, or someone is at the door. Now, if its three o’clock in the morning, your reaction may be a little different then if it was three o’clock in the afternoon. Add loud music, alcohol, and large group of guests and the likelihood is the visitor at your door is not a late-arriving guest. Add flashing red and blue lights coming from your driveway on top of that and your reaction might now be close to panic. You know who is at the door and you know there could be serious consequences, so the next thirty seconds might be the most important of your life.
You open the door and your heart almost stops. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize a police officer when you see one. Two things could happen here. One, the officer could be polite and give you a warning or two, the officer could be brash, reading you the letter of the law. Those are the two options available to the officer. But, I guarantee your neighbors are not thinking about options. They are thinking about silence.
So lets rewind the situation and switch out the police officer with a kindly old lady. She’s four foot eight and maybe weighs eighty pounds soaking wet. She has a quiet, little voice asking, quite politely, “Excuse me….. Excuse me could you please quiet down?” Which one demands more respect from you? Is the little old lady going to instill the fear of God (so to speak) within your heart? Or is this officer with the ability to give you a ticket, or in the case of underage drinking (God forbid), arrest you right then and there. So which one (right or wrong) demands more respect in your mind? The officer or the old lady?
Don’t we treat God like that? Don’t we look at God and think “Well, He can’t punish me right now. So I’m not afraid of Him”? What we don’t realize is that the Lord does show up sooner or later as the police officer, but He doesn’t want to have to do that. He wants to come as the small, quiet voice and encourage us to follow Him, to listen to Him. He wants us to willingly obey and doesn’t want us to experience the inevitable consequences for our disobedience. He knocks quietly on the door of our heart and politely says, “Excuse me, could you please listen?”
The comes a time, however, where the Lord must hold us accountable for our three o’clock debaucheries. He ditches the still small voice and instead, grabs His bullhorn and riot gear. We have ignored Him for far too long and He is forced to get our attention another way. Many people have asked me “Why can believer’s live like their hell-bound and still go to heaven? Why can’t they abuse the gift they’ve been given?” I answer, “Because that’s the freedom of the gift. God doesn’t require obedience to accept His gift.” Then they ask, “So God just sits back and lets His people get away with murder?” Absolutely not.
God is a God of grace and mercy, which the American church focuses on ALOT. However, that is not all of who God is and doesn’t describe Him in His completeness. God is also a God of justice and will hold us accountable for our deeds. God doesn’t require obedience to get into heaven but He does hold us accountable for our actions. God doesn’t sit back in heaven and do nothing when we choose to live lives that are entirely against His will. God doesn’t sit in heaven and turn a blind eye to our behavior. No, God punishes those He loves. I know that when we hear the word “punishment” many of us think “That sounds like a mean God.” But don’t parents “punish” and “discipline” their children? Isn’t that done to correct their behavior, teach them the proper path, and hold them accountable? Isn’t that why God in the scriptures instructs us to punish children for disobedience, just as He punished Israel for theirs?
It is difficult for us to understand but the love of God is demonstrated just as much in His mercy and grace as it is in His justice and wrath. This may seem to be a counter intuitive understanding of “wrath” but God’s wrath stems from His hate for sin (not the sinner) and His desire for all men to never experience pain, suffering, and hardship at the hands of another. God’s wrath is seen when His people do nothing just as much as it is when ungodly people sin mightily. What was Jesus big complaint with the Pharisees? They favored legalism over mercy and did not have a proper heart attitude towards God’s people, including the poor, the wicked, and the outcast. What was God’s big complaint against the Israelites in the Old Testament? They failed to follow Him. A failure to obey on both accounts.
I speak from personal experience that I only hear God’s voice plainly in my life when He challenges me. I only have a consistent prayer life when He challenges me to be better and holds a mirror up to my face saying “You like this girl, you want this ministry, you want to follow me? Well, does your behavior reflect a godly man?” Every time I’m forced to answer “No.” I have to go to spiritual bathroom and wash up a little bit. I need to get back in the word, studying what He wants from me, and then I get back on my knees and ask for guidance from Him. He then challenges me again to follow Him, to take up my cross (you notice if you’re holding a cross, both your hands are full?) and drop everything else that hinders me from serving Him.
God is teaching me right now patience, humility, and a proper understanding of who I am. God is teaching me that the thoughts of “You’re not good enough. Of course, she doesn’t care about you. You’re over-doing it. You’re not doing enough. You’re annoying. You’re mean. You’re rude. You’re pestering, on and on and on” are actually all lies. That those thoughts don’t stem from God’s voice. That the still small voice has decided a battering ram is needed to get my attention and break me out this vicious cycle of self-pity.
So what do you do when the Lord’s whispers “Excuse me”? Do you listen? Or do you wait until the battering ram is banging against your door? I would encourage you to listen right away, no matter how much the instructions of the small voice terrify you.