(John I of Portugal, painted c.1435)
John I of Portugal was crowned as king in 1385. He was known for ruling in peace and referred to as the good, but to the Spaniards, known as something else that I will not mention! Why? Because Spain hated Portugal at this time. They were vying for world leadership. But John I’s reign would be known for discovering the Cape of Good Hope, thus creating a way for Portugal to reach India and become very wealthy for it. He was known for being kind and benevolent, not something many kings are known for. But this isn’t a Portuguese history lesson, yet leadership has everything to do with relationships.
If you think about it, we don’t open up to just anybody. We have to make sure we can trust them. We have to know that they are ready for the depths of our soul to be bore to them. We spend time conversing about little things, gauging the other person’s reactions to things that don’t really matter to us as a form of guarding our heart. We spend time drinking coffee together, texting about small things, talking about things we are sure about. These are the things that build water under the bridge, so to speak.
But then there is the side of us where things get murky, circumstances aren’t so clear and we aren’t so sure. Places where we struggle. Concepts of belief that we wrestle with. Ideas that we entertain but we don’t talk about except to one or maybe two other humans on this planet, because they are just too grey, too taboo, too real.
Subjects where there are no easy answers. Ideas that don’t meet cultural norms, but then again neither did Jesus and He epitomized the simple, yet complex Truth in the midst of religious empires, which took a surety of character and depth of understanding of His mission and purpose, to face suffering and death with the grace and love he portrayed.
These grey areas exist, even when we don’t want them to, even when they are political inconveniences. And yet, our perceived grey areas merely reflect a portion of the grey areas that God’s heart contains.
And what makes His heart have grey areas? Because of how lowly our understanding is of His thoughts and ways as described in Isiah 58:8-9,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
When we don’t fully comprehend a scenario, then it becomes grey to us. But not God. To Him its very black and white.
Can you imagine being the leader in a fierce war, making the judgment calls that no one wants to make? Ask any leader, any commanding officer that has been in war about the tough calls they have had to make and you probably won’t get an answer. Why?
They know the high cost their decisions had. The impact their verdicts made on a person. But not just a person, but on their family, their children their city and on their nation. Leaders see past the simplicity of easy answers and see the entire structure of a situation. And so does God.
He is the Leader of Leaders, the King of the entire universe as we have come to understand it. He can see the macro picture on a level that you and I can’t even dream. Yet, He has the dark places, the parts of the Bible that many of us glaze over because it doesn’t fit our idea of the loving gracious God that culture has painted Him to be.
He has made judgment calls that He would only reveal to a select few on this planet, like to Moses and Yeshua. Romans 8:11 says,
“As it is written, ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.’”
He reveals His heart to who He can trust. Yes! Who HE CAN trust. It’s not just anyone. It’s a select few, safe enough to understand the jealous lover that He is, that when evil encroaches upon one of those called by His name, YHVH of Hosts, how that evil fuels His wrath and He makes the call. The hard Call.
The call of trading one hostage for another because of His love for those being called by His name. Ones whom He calls, “His beloved.”
Consider this passage in Isaiah 43:4:
“Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life.”
You are precious in His sight! That is no longer a children’s Sunday school song, but the revelation of a lover to their bride, saying, “I will make the hard calls, the judgments, pay the ransom, trade another life for your own because I love you.”
That is the heart of a true Warrior, the stuff epic hero movies are made of.
Yet are you ready to be entrusted with that type of relationship? Everyone is so quick to call Christianity “a relationship” but rarely does anyone talk about us being the one’s needing to be trustworthy to handle the depths of our first husband’s heart (Is. 54).
It has turned into a one sided, “I need, I want I’m scared” relationship that we don’t stop to consider a God with intense feelings. Words like love, anger, jealous, zealous.. Did we forget that we have a God that CAN change His mind, that he does relent, that He is sorry? (Exodus 32:14, Gen 6:6, 2 Sam 24:16)
This is the reality of our God, He is not a stagnant statue of inept capabilities. NO! He is a live, active, feeling, loving God.
He loves with passion, He feels with gusto, He acts with vigor And we ask Him to live up to these characteristics all day. But when it comes time for us to act according to the standards befitting of being children called by His name, we passively relent to His promises instead of proactively pursue the heart of God to call Him “friend.” Do you understand the depths of that statement? When Jesus said, “I call you friends?” It isn’t a mere invitation of lets hang out for coffee and work out together twice a month.
This is life or death, ride or die type of friendship. The stuff that military buddies get on the front lines of war, why veterans miss war so much and remains a mystery to civilians. Because of the realness of brotherly love is revealed to its greatest intensities. To understand what it means to have God’s back while He has yours. It’s a give and take relationship on BOTH parts. We are to offer ourselves as “living sacrifices” to Him who ransomed His son for us.
He made the hard call of giving up His own son for the sake of His beloved people. Most earthly judges, DCS workers and lawyers would call that “bad parenting” but truth is, it was the only way, or Jesus wouldn’t be called “The Way”
So think about this, the next time you make a judgment call on someone’s actions, especially God’s. Do you really know the depths of reasoning behind their decision? But more importantly, are you a safe enough person for their reasoning to be entrusted to?
All leaders have their “board” with whom they speak with and disclose pertinent information to. Are we worthy enough to be trusted by the King of the universe?
For more on God’s heart, check out the book Faith to Move the Mountain of the Heart here