Do you ever have those verses that just stump you? They tease you with an awareness that there is more than you can grasp. Treasure those verses. I promise you, that in the fullness of time, God will give you beautiful revelations with them. I want to share one of those that tugged at me for years. Paul quotes the Psalmist:
That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.” Ephesians 4:8
Psalm 68:18 When you ascended to the heights, you led a crowd of captives. You received gifts from the people, even from those who rebelled against you. Now the LORD God will live among us there.
I have chewed on this verse for years…drawn pictures, diagrammed the sentence (yes, I am odd) and chased the root words in Hebrew and Greek. But it was the sweet work of the Holy Spirit that finally showed me what that looked like in me.
It takes a confession to explain. I have never denied being stubborn. I wore it as a banner, in fact. Confessing is not repenting. I saw that the stubborn-ness had benefited me sometimes. I saw that being stubborn helped me walk in obedience.
Now, God also showed me those terribly convicting verses that equated stubborn-ness with witchcraft and rebellion. But they just didn’t fit–or so I thought.
A casual remark that a more mature Christian held me accountable for opened the door to the Light.
“I hate rules,” I said.
“God loves rules. He is a God of order. Where do you think that came from?” my mentor challenged.
In my natural mind, the answer was honest: “I don’t know.” But the Spirit knows and when I asked, He immediately revealed that pivotal point in time when I choose rebellion. The details of the scene are something I’ll share with those who ask but they don’t matter to this piece.
I was a child–perhaps 12. It was a decision that changed my future but not one that confounded God. He knew and He mapped my life to utilize that offensive choice. I chose captivity to rebellion. It cost me a lot. It injured many. But God kept wooing me, and I surrendered to Him to the limits I understood.
I didn’t know to surrender the stubborn-ness. I suspect I didn’t trust Him to guide me without it. I had used it for so long. I couldn’t see it for its deadly yuck.
Now, look back to those verses that had called to me.
In His loving patience, He had taken that sin captive. I was not using it for good…God had it all along! He accepted ‘gifts’ from this rebel simply because I believed in Him. He worked greater things than I understood…He let me take credit for His work. He let me even give credit to sin. That’s the heart of the loving Father, the heart of the humble Savior!
Do you see the mercy, power and glory of God in that?
He is not daunted by our dirt, but He doesn’t leave us in it! His transformation plan includes taking the yuck into captivity until such time as we can surrender it to Him.
Our journey through life is about allowing the Spirit increasing room in our lives. Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil. He came to provide abundant life. The Spirit leads us into that life when we walk with Him in faith! Will you let Him do what He desires? When God created the world, he said “Let there be…” We have the same creative option! Will you let Him?