The moments I long for most in life are those where God decides to pour out fresh revelation of His heart in a way that brings life-altering conviction, while simultaneously enveloping you with the intimacy of His healing grace. There is nothing in this world that compares; it is to your soul what sinking into a warm bath is to your aching body on a very cold day.
God did this most recently in my life through a passage in Genesis. It’s a passage I’ve read many times before, and to be honest, a passage that I’ve always somewhat skimmed over. But as I led a group of women through the book of Genesis this Spring, I was forced to meditate more intentionally on what the Holy Spirit was saying not only to the original hearers but to me personally.
This passage is Genesis 4:17-26. Cain has murdered his brother, Abel, and as a consequence, he has been driven out of the presence of God. And now the writer of Genesis begins to list Cain’s ungodly lineage (hence why I normally skimmed over this part). But included in this genealogy is a distracting list of the cultural advancements that came through Cain’s line. I say distracting because, at first glance, it seems as though these accomplishments are there to make us admire the talent and entrepreneurial spirit of Cain’s lineage!
Through Cain and his descendants, an urban centre was built (17), herdsmanship was birthed (20), music became a source of livelihood through stringed and piped instruments (21), and bronze and iron craftsmanship began to evolve, undoubtedly revolutionizing everything from agriculture to weaponry (22). What an incredible list of accomplishments to be traced through a mere six generations of people separated from God’s presence!
After the author records a very disturbing song in verses 23-24 that was sung by Cain’s descendant Lamech, we’re then given a shockingly brief account of the godly line of Cain’s brother, Seth. Seth was God’s appointed replacement for Abel, through which Eve declares in faith that God’s promised seed would come (25). But instead of including a long list of accomplishments and cultural advancements that came through Seth’s line, in a single verse the writer of Genesis simply states:
26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.
It appears that in the earliest account of humanity, in the very opening chapters of God’s word, the Holy Spirit reveals to us what causes God to boast in His image bearers. While the world boasts in those who make a name for themselves, our God boasts in those who call on the name of the Lord.
This is where the life-altering conviction part comes in…
For three and a half years, I’ve struggled to understand why God called me to serve alongside some of the most gifted, Biblically educated, hard-working, Gospel-loving pastors I’ve ever met. For three and a half years it’s been a great source of joy to learn from these pastors, and an equally great source of insecurity to serve amongst them. I do not hold a Bible degree and I’m not a particularly gifted speaker or teacher. And when I do teach, it’s with a pounding heart and shaky voice. My prayers are far from elegant and I have no special training in leading teams. I am an amateur by all accounts.
And because my flesh causes me to compare, I haven’t led with the boldness with which I’m called to lead… Many times I have shrunk back in areas where God has called me to be courageous, simply because I have calculated my worth on this leadership team through the world’s values.
However, God in His healing grace is helping me see that He has called me to leadership not in spite of my weaknesses, but because of them. For my weakness actually puts me at an advantage in many ways, as it forces me to realize my utter dependence upon Him. Because in order to be part of the lineage that “calls on the name of the Lord”, we must first realize that we bring nothing of value in and of ourselves to the table. It is only what God does through our complete dependence upon Him that will last for eternity.
For unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain (Psalm 127:1).
Praise God my boldness is coming… One prayer at a time, I am learning to boast in my complete dependence upon the Lord.