The Intended Life
I read an article recently in Tennessee Wildlife (Fall 2016, p24) titled “The Unintended Forest” by Aubrey Deck. It began by saying, “As you drive around Tennessee, you commonly see beautiful forests, especially in fall when the leaves change colors. I’m sure I speak for many Tennesseans when I say it is truly a pleasure to live in this state. However, these forests that are beautiful and ‘park-like’ are not very useful for most wildlife. Alternatively, what is unpleasant to the eye can be quality wildlife habitat.” As I read this paragraph and the rest of the article, I thought about some spiritual applications of it.
First, did you notice what the author said about the forests that are beautiful to us? They are of little benefit to most wildlife. In other words, what looks good to us is not in reality that good. We do not always see things for what they really are. This was God’s lesson to Samuel when he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” Did the Lord tell Samuel this? No, Samuel thought it himself. Instead, the Lord said to him, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b). The wise man Solomon stated the point even stronger when He twice wrote, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12; 16:25).
Men have come up with a lot of ways to serve and worship God that He has rejected by His silence on them. People think “Surely this would be OK with God” when God has never said so. They think “This must be right” because of how they feel about it, not realizing that their feelings are leading them to spiritual death. There is nothing beautiful and “park-like” about that.
Also notice that the author said, “Alternatively, what is unpleasant to the eye can be quality wildlife habitat.” In other words, it may not look good to us, but it is exactly what is needed. How much this principle describes Christ. Isaiah prophesied of Him, “For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” (Isa. 53:2). Yet He was just what we needed: “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; ...He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.” (:4-5).
Some people reject the teachings of Jesus because they are unpleasant to them, yet they are exactly what we need. They want to divorce for any reason – and are destroying families and society as a result – when what they need to be doing is following what God taught us in the beginning: one man and one woman (notice not man with man nor woman with woman) joined together by God and never separated (Matthew 19:1-6). That’s a quality arrangement! The idea of submitting to their husbands is unpleasant to some women, and some men don’t love their wives as much as they should; but God’s way involves both and leads to a quality relationship (Eph. 5:22-33).
The article went on to describe “the intentional forest” as one developed not based on what looks good but what is indeed good, what is best. We need to be developing intentional lives, lives not merely based on what looks good to us but what is indeed good, what is best. This can only be accomplished by listening and submitting to the One rejected by so many. Otherwise God will reject us.
Be intentional about living for the Lord. After all, He died for you.