Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Atheistic Enterprising?

As I was plowing through chapter 5: Womanly Dominion in the New Testament, in, you guessed it, Womanly Dominion, I was struck at the contrast that Chanski highlighted between Mary and her sister Martha. Now I can't tell you how many times I've read Luke 10:38-42, but until now, I've never quite identified with Martha the way that I did this morning. Not to say that I have always identified perfectly with Mary and her devotion to Jesus while forgoing all other hospitality-related duties during his visit, but I guess the reality of Martha's servant-like drive over her worship of Jesus is what got me. I find myself wearing Martha shoes WAY too often these days, and Nancy Leigh DeMoss calls this atheistic enterprising. Yikes!

In DeMoss' book, Lies Women Believe, Lie #19 is "I can make it without consistent time in the word and prayer," and she then warns that "Satan knows that if he succeeds in getting us to live independently of the Word of God, we become vulnerable to deception in every area of our lives." Sadly, I believe this happens very subconsciously. At least that's what seems to happen in my own life. I set out to have time with the Lord before the day gets going, but somehow, I manage to replace that time by checking email, hopping on Facebook, blogging, getting a quick load of laundry started, or even just spending extra time to get my coffee brewing. While these activities are not bad in and of themselves, when they take the place of the time that I need to give to the Lord before I begin my day, they are harmful.  And sometimes ... I consider it a feat that I at least woke up before my husband left for the day or my son wakes up. That's definitely a great start, but unless I "get up while it is still dark;" (Proverbs 31:15) and petition the Lord for strength and direction for the day, I'm communicating that I can handle the day on my own!

Chanski has this to say about this attitude: "When we throw ourselves into important projects without consulting the Lord, we're acting arrogantly. Practical womanly dominion without devotional womanly dominion can easily deteriorate into atheistic enterprising. He explores this deeper in James 4:13-15:
Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.' Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.' But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
At first glance, I wasn't too sure how this lined up with my lack of committing my day to the Lord, but as I dove into David Guzek's commentary,  I quickly understood. He makes three important points:
  1. You who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit": James rebukes the kind of heart that lives and makes its plans apart from a constant awareness of the sovereignty of God, and with an underestimation of our own limitations (you do not know what will happen tomorrow).

  2. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away: James asks us to consider the fragility of human life, and the fact that we live and move only at the permission of God. James will not discourage us from planning and doing, only from planning and doing apart from a reliance on God.

  3. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." It is nothing but sheer arrogance that makes us think that we can live and move and have our being independent of God. This boastful arrogance is the essence of sin: a proud independence, the root of all sin, as was the case with Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-15) and Adam (Genesis 3:5-7).
Wow ... that strikes hard! If I'm honest, I wouldn't typically think of myself as arrogant, but in relation to point #3, I guess I am. Not intentionally, of course ... and as far as my own justification goes, maybe that's all I need to be 'ok' with it. But, in actuality, by not coming to the Lord at the beginning of my day and praying for His will in all decisions I need to make (not just the big ones) and for His strength to live out the calling that He has called me to ... I am really saying, "Don't worry God, I have this all under control!"

Now, you could argue that you don't really need to have a specific time when you go before the Lord each day; you can do it any time. And I would have to agree. We should be praying continuously and growing in our understanding of Him continuously. But, I would have to argue in response that the time spent in the morning should not be replaced by the sporadic times we spend throughout the day. (I certainly don't do this well, so I understand that it's difficult. But I do not underestimate the importance and the priority that time should take in the morning!) Proverbs 31:15 is a good example of this, Psalm 5:3 is a good example, and Mark 1:35 shows us that even Jesus did this.

Upon reading the commentary on Mark 1:35, I found a quote from Spurgeon on the matter that was quite striking: "Look no man in the face till thou hast seen the face of God. Speak thou with none till thou hast had speech with the Most High."

And in reality, if we don't come to the Lord in the morning, I think it's very easy to forget, begin to rely on ourselves and to progress in a downward cycle toward atheistic enterprising. Chanski continues to explain this concept by saying, "Such atheistic enterprising is the very thing we do if we put our hands to the daily plow without taking time to pray and plead for the help of God to establish the work of our hands. 'In the morning, O Lord, Thou wilt hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch'"(Psalm 5:3).

The Lord has been convicting me of the need for this practice for many months, but I am SO slow to get into a good routine of it. Slowly though, I think it will happen, and I pray that as we all continue to pursue the Lord, that we will pray about this discipline for our lives and that through it, we will be transformed and experience a new perspective on daily living.

1 comment:

  1. Courtney! This is a great post! Lizzy and I are currently studying The Book of James together and I am interested to get to Ch 4 because of this.

    I find myself struggling with so much to do in our house that I put it ahead of time spent with the Lord. Thanks for your thoughts!