“The Lord of Hosts is mustering a host for battle.” Isaiah 13:4
One day, I may write a book called “Errors of the Quiet Time.” It would be mainly autobiographical. My qualifications as author include an habitual underachievement in the devotional realm. It is something I wish to mend.
One error is coming to prayer keen to involve God in my plan. Most will know Bill Bright’s “Four Spiritual Laws,” the most effective evangelistic tool of my generation. As a new Christian it was one of the first things I was taught. As an older Christian it may be the last thing I learn. The first law reads, “God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.” I fear I often imperfectly incorporate that truth into my approach to God.
Too often I treat God as a prospect for my current enthusiasms. It is as if I say: “Dear God, I know you love me, therefore, I’m sure you’ll want to bless my plan.” Thus Law One is turned upon its head.
How can we forget that God has a plan?
A while back, I wrote of God “The Amazing Star-Breather” (Louie Giglio’s term). Louie masterfully expounded the theme of God the Creator—the God who fills the vastness of the inter-stellar reaches and fashions the stars in their magnitude. Let us also remember that God manages the microcosm, including that microcosm called me. He manages the microcosm of my days and nights. The God who has a plan for eternity has a plan for the hours. Let us then celebrate the God who Numbers Hairs on Heads, the Knower of Sparrows, the Tailor to Lilies. As we get to know this God, we will discover his plan for us.
When I began the Christian life, it felt like enrolling in a class. As I go on, it feels more like preparing for a war. Years ago, I heard a professor lecture about the run-up to the Trojan War. He told of the enlistment phase. There was reluctance on the part of the Greek champions to risk their safety for an unfortunate husband in pursuit of a faithless wife. Odysseus, the most resourceful, feigned madness, while Achilles, the manliest among them, disguised himself as a woman! After being unmasked by Agamemnon, both Odysseus and Achilles took their places in the expedition to Troy. Classical scholars have a name for that enlistment phase. They call it “The Mustering of the Host.”
The Great Apostle compares the Christian life to the life of a soldier (2 Timothy 2:4). With those who rise early to march and to fight, we share a kindred calling. In its current and cosmic phase, Christian experience takes on the shape of battle. There are rulers who still take counsel against the Lord and against his anointed. There are those who submit to God’s rule. Most do not. We are a minority against the armed and the powerful. God’s plan for us may necessarily include collisions. Our part is not to take the life of another. We are advanced beyond Old Testament warfare. We are New Testament believers. Our weapons are of a different kind (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). We take up our life to lay it down.
A few step forward boldly. Others must be wooed. Some shrink back. So it is in the world. So it is in the Church. May we enlist among the eager. When we do God will reveal His plan and assign our role.
We go with those sensitive to God’s honor and jealous for God’s glory. May our sense of privilege be obvious. We start at break of day. That’s when the muster begins.
Ronnie Collier Stevens, a native of Atlanta Georgia, graduated from the University of Georgia and Dallas Seminary. He has pastored churches in Munich, Moscow, and Budapest. Ronnie and his wife Jane live in Moscow, Russia where they are full time Missionaries with Entrust.