I find it amazing that many times in life, I find myself making decisions and drawing conclusions without complete facts or data. There is this desire to sit in the “outer court” with others and speculate, pontificate, postulate, induce, and deduce meaning, purpose, judgement, and actions. O, the blogosphere of ideas! We have come up with answers for almost everything–we just need to sway the audience in our direction. And we can “succeed”, to some degree, in convincing others we know what we are talking about as long as not all the facts are presented. Sometimes we don’t know all the facts, and other times we don’t want to know. Let me give you some examples:
1, From my living room in Homer, Alaska, I speculate on what happened to the Malaysian jet that disappeared, using knowledge available to me from the internet (true or untrue). I can read articles, watch news casts, and talk with friends and neighbors. I can unravel the mystery, come to a reasonable conclusion, and be utterly wrong because I do not have all the facts. Perhaps someone or someones out there knows exactly what happened, and is keeping it a secret. I don’t know.
2. I am in the jury box selected to decide the guilt or innocence of an offending minor, and as the testimonies are presented, information leaks out–important information that could sway the case one way or another, and it is quickly stricken from the record and not allowable as evidence in the case. We the jury debate and grovel over someone’s permanent criminal record using just a few pieces of the puzzle while internally begging that they would release more, since we know there is. Again, from the sidelines, our information has been limited, therefore our judgement may be wrong.
3. I have a secret sin. Others around me have theirs too. None of us want to judge the other because in doing so, it will expose us. So we argue in the outer court. We rationalize our sin. “We have good reasons why we don’t need to break off that relationship.” “No one needs to tell us what to do in our private lives.” “God made me this way, what else does He expect?” “It doesn’t matter that we didn’t honor our contracts, our agreements, our word. No one else does either.” We brag about our laziness, go on and on about our addictions, tell hundreds of stories of our misbehaving children, our lack of self-control, and take no responsibility. This is the Outer Court after all. There is no judge here. I might be wrong, but no one here is going to tell me. No one here knows all the particulars.
What if i could know the facts? What would I do then? When it comes to our hearts, there is an answer.
God calls me into relationship with Him that brings me out of the “Outer Court”. He calls me to leave the “God wants me to be happy” zone, and calls me into intimacy with Him. Very few will venture here. Here is where I learn the hard truth. Here is where the ugliness gets exposed. From my motives to the execution of my actions, every mystery is unraveled. This is what happens in intimacy. I find out that my secret sins are not a secret. I am exposed for the lies I have covered. I have no excuses for the responsibilities I have let go of.
God’s holiness and character demand that I come clean. God’s kindness draws me to repentance. God’s mercy allows me to make a u-turn. God’s Spirit empowers me to choose Him over my secrets. God’s love renews my purpose and infuses my hope. God’s faithfulness establishes the reasons why I need to honor His Word.
Out here in the outer court, I justify myself, because I look pretty smart out here. I deflect the conversations off of me, and pin my troubles on another. Even “Born into Sin” becomes my banner. I am what I am. Live and let live. But in the inner-court, where the real judge sits, where the coach of the team calls the plays, where the laws of God call me out, where the Mastermind behind every mystery executes His plans–this is where I have been called to live.
See, intimacy can be defined “into me—see”. It’s where our lives are vulnerable and naked before the One to whom we must give an account. But not vulnerable to be exploited–no that is not God’s character. Vulnerable to be corrected, covered, clothed, and cared for. Here is the crazy thing–God is what our soul desires. He is the satisfaction of all of our yearnings. He is the fullest expression of every virtue we know, and the only source of it–but we are afraid. Why should we go there? For the very reasons I stated above–all of our longings are met in God. Every desire and yearning of our heart has a fulfillment in Him. “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” (St. Augustine of Hippo)
What else do we find in this “Inner Court”? Mercy, grace, love, forgiveness, a fresh page to write our lives on, hope, compassion, purpose, meaning, healing, satisfaction, direction, wisdom, miracles, humility, power, and life. See–it’s everything we long for when we are wasting away in the outer court, drowning in our excuses. It’s the power to start again and change the direction of our lives. Instead of living for the “outer court”, we boldly approach the throne room of God and ask for help.
Where is this “Inner Court”? It is in the presence of God. How do you get there? You ask Him to take you there. You read His Words (The Bible), You pray, You worship, and like David you say, “Search me O God and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
Hungry for revival? Say goodbye to life in the Outer Court.