It’s Time to Roar
Paul L. Garlington
In a recent Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, Calvin is in his history class taking an examination for which he is woefully unprepared. The question before him reads, “What was the significance of the Erie Canal?” Calvin, assuming the character of his alter ego Thomas Hobbes, responds to the question thusly, “In the cosmic sense, probably nil.” The next frame shows Calvin reclining in his chair quite satisfied with his performance declaring, “We Big Picture People rarely become historians.” The irony of this comic situation is that it is indeed a fact that all who have seen the Big Picture cease to be historians or futurists for that matter. Why? The Big Picture is The Vision, and The Vision has to do with a glorious, present reality, namely the whole earth is full of the glory of God. From this vantage point, are you an historian or a Big Picture person?

The truth of the matter is, admit it or not, we have all been master historians and all historians are chroniclers of past events. However, since these records have nothing to do with the Big Picture it is uniquely his (the historian’s) story. “My thoughts are not your thoughts,” says the Lord. Although God knows absolutely nothing about these historical documents, for most people, that’s their story and they are sticking with it. Furthermore, they bind themselves to the past because the study of history is a mandatory prerequisite for all prognostications about the future. The dilemma that must be faced by all is the fact that since the infinite One who says, “I Am that I am,” can only inhabit the eternal now, “Now is the accepted time.” Consequently, anything that would deprive us of a present tense realization of what the Gospel says is true of us now is a thief and a robber. Hence, as long as you remain tied to history, you will be a companion of thieves and robbers and remember, there is no honor or loyalty among thieves.

The good news is that when the thief/robber who was crucified with Jesus repented, he saw the Big Picture and immediately heard Jesus say, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” All those who cling to a past they regret and a future they dread, remain their own worst enemy by robbing God of the glory that is the exclusive property, even now, of the One, besides whom there is none other. When has the eternal God ever been less than infinite, absolute, all? Who is this awesome being that insists that he has a record documenting this incredible event? Isn’t it obvious by now that all history is a record of man’s insane attempt to ungod God in human experience, establishing his ridiculous claim to lack in every form through the death of God? Why is this conclusion unavoidable? If God is, then God must be infinite, omnipresent good, dwelling in the eternal is that makes all historical record keeping redundant and absurd. Isn’t it time for all of us to be Big Picture people? The story of Hannah exemplifies what we need to do if we want to see the Big Picture. (1 Sam 1 and 2)

Hannah, which means grace and favor, was being mocked unmercifully for her seeming inability to bear a child. Out of her extreme sorrow and desperation, she cries out to the Lord. “Now it came about, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli (the priest) was watching her mouth. As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk. Then Eli said to her, ‘How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you.’ But Hannah answered and said, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman; for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation (Would you say that Hannah was operating from the vantage point of the Big Picture or history?)’ Then Eli answered and said, ‘Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.’ And she said, ‘Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.’ So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.”

Hannah’s wholehearted acceptance of the word of God as a fait accompli was indicated by the fact that her face was no longer sad. As the eyes are a window to the soul, so one’s face will reveal the joy or sadness of one’s heart. When the priests under the old covenant prepared to enter the tabernacle, they were required to wash themselves in the bronze laver. The bottom of the laver was like a highly polished mirror in which they saw a true reflection of themselves. Inasmuch as the priests were required to “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise,” serving the Lord with gladness of heart, upon seeing the reflection of their countenance during the washing, they could ascertain the state of their heart. Question: Have you observed how people can be faithful mirrors to us all? Have you utilized your mirrors to assist you in determining whether your heart has joyfully embraced the Big Picture? Do you get offended if someone, perhaps even a total stranger, makes you aware of your crestfallen state?

Then Hannah prayed and said , ‘My heart exults (i.e., ascribes greatness to God alone with great rejoicing) in the Lord; my horn (strength) is exalted in the Lord, my mouth speaks boldly (roars) against my enemies (lack of all things), because I rejoice in Thy salvation.’” This is the only prayer that truly glorifies God for there is a total absence of any desire to “tell” God about problems, pain, lack, etc. There is simply the recognition that rejoicing in the Lord is synonymous with rejoicing in salvation as an accomplished fact. This is the Yet Point that cries out, “It’s Time to Roar.”

What is the Yet Point? The Yet Point is always precipitated by the acute awareness of the conflict that exists between the Big Picture and human experience. It is that juncture in one’s life where one must decide to either glorify God by saying, “Let God be true and every man(-ifestation) be a lie,” or choose to exalt his experience against the knowledge of God. It is the point where all too often, we demand yet another proof of God’s goodness by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not, and if so, why all this human suffering?” The Yet Point is analogous to the call for the question in Parliamentary Procedure. It is a declaration that discussion is over, it is time to decide.

The prophet Habakkuk beautifully illustrates this principle when he is challenged by God, in spite of all contradictory appearance, to “Record The Vision (i.e., the Big Picture that the whole earth is full of the glory of God) and inscribe it on tablets that the one who reads it may run.” You are either a man of vision or a captive of history. Remember: All history concerns the past. The past is dead. Let the dead bury the dead. The Vision is a living, dynamic, now reality without which we’d perish. Don’t just write it, read it. Don’t be content to merely read it; meditate on it day and night until your heart is hot from musing, the fire burns, and you must exclaim with joy and gladness, “My heart exults in the Lord.” Can you feel this? This vision is “Yet for the appointed time, it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail (lie).” Do you see it? If The Vision concerns what is so now, how can it lie? Therefore, it only seems to tarry, waiting for the Yet Point in order to be released into the arena of our experience. It is at this point that an Habakkuk cannot contain himself any longer and he cries out in a triumphant song, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail (lie, deceive, disappoint), and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.” (Hab 3:17,18)

In other words, Habakkuk is declaring that at the Yet Point, he is no longer interested in resolving the so-called philosophical problem of evil. Let evil fend for itself, let God be true. If I have to go through the fiery furnace, lion’s den, Red Sea, or even the grave, I am determined, in spite of human experience, to rejoice in the fact that it is impossible for God to lie. Either the Big Picture is a lie or the barren fig tree is a lie. God is calling for the question. Habakkuk said, yet I will rejoice in the Lord and luxuriate in the Big Picture as the eternal present reality. And even if to human sense I seem to have died, not having obtained the promise, and “Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes shall see and not another.” (Job 19:26,27) Do you get it? Nothing, absolutely nothing, not even the appearance of death itself will cause me to recant from the Big Picture for I am convinced that absolutely nothing can separate me from the infinite One, in whom I live and move and have my being.

When Hannah reached the Yet Point, 1) She heard the voice within; 2) She saw the Big Picture (she is no longer an historian); and 3) She realized her heart’s desire (i.e., grace, favor). With a glad heart and an uplifted countenance as an accelebrant, she let’s out her magnificent roar. “My mouth speaks boldly, ROARS against my enemy because I rejoice in Thy salvation.” Most people confuse roaring against their enemy (the lack of all things) with discussing, describing, or analyzing the situation they deem hostile. The only way to roar against your so-called enemies is to turn your back on them and rejoice in the Lord, just as Jehoshaphat did when confronted by seemingly overwhelming opposition. (2 Chron 20) He turned his attention from the appearance, totally to God. As a result, Jehoshaphat also heard God’s voice, got the Big Picture, and realized his heart’s desire, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.

“Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s...Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel. You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the Lord is with you...And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the Lord and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for His loving kindness is everlasting.’”

Do you see it? The joyful, yea even, upROARious celebration of the goodness of God that endures forever being the only reality is the way we speak (roar) against our enemies. “Then on the fourth day they assembled in the valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the Lord. Therefore they have named that place ‘The Valley of Beracah’ until today. And every man of Judah and Jerusalem returned with Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies.”

Jehoshaphat, together with all Judah, with their infants, their wives, and their children moving as one man, joyfully reached the Yet Point. Having located themselves, choosing to give all glory to God, they roar out, “Experience be damned! We’re going with The Vision that cannot lie.” When in doubt and your back is against the wall and you don’t have a clue what your next step is, just say, “Father, glorify me with your own self with the glory I had with you before this appearance began.” If it seems you are destined for the furnace, be yet more vile. Tell them to hold your coat, you’re coming back with a roar.

“And they came to Jerusalem with harps, lyres (liars if you are still questioning the vision), and trumpets to the house of the Lord. And the dread of God was on all the kingdoms of the lands when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God gave him rest on all sides.”

Herbert Spencer said, “That which is real is permanent, what is not real is not permanent.” To this truth, scripture bears witness when it says, “I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him.” (Eccles 3:14) What a joy it is to know that God, the only creator, spoke and it was done, commanded and it stood fast, and then pronounced everything He had made, good and very good. Can you see it? Only what God has made exists. It is good, it is permanent, it is real. This is the Big Picture and The Vision that cannot lie. “For Thou, O Lord, hast made me glad by what Thou hast done, I will sing for joy at the works of Thy hand.” “After these things, I heard, as it were, a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God’...And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him...’” (Rev 19:1,6,7a)

It’s time to roar. “Let the heavens be glad, let the earth rejoice, let the sea roar.” As all those who have visited Niagara Falls will attest, you hear the roar before you see and feel the spray from the waterfall. In the movie, The Bear, set in 1885 British Columbia, an orphaned bear cub is befriended by a huge, fully matured Kodiak bear. The Kodiak bear, serving as a surrogate parent, teaches the cub all the necessary survival skills until it is time for the two bears to separate and follow his own path. In a very poignant scene, the Kodiak bear suddenly encounters a hunter along his path who had laid aside his weapon temporarily in order to take a shower. The great Kodiak lets out a long, magnificent, heart-stopping roar which caused his would-be assailant to literally plead for his life. It was because the bear had shown the hunter compassion in sparing his life when he was most vulnerable that he later kept back all of his companions from killing the very one that had given him a new lease on life.

That scene is closely followed by the young bear being stalked by a hungry, opportunistic cougar. In an attempt to outrun the cougar, the cub GOES OUT ON A LIMB that breaks under his weight, and he falls into the rushing waters below. While the cub is struggling to swim up stream, the water current is forcing him to the shoreline where the cougar is waiting to devour him. Clawed, bloody, and having nowhere to run, the bear cub must finally face his enemy, and lets out his most ferocious, but nonetheless, pathetic roar. Suddenly, it was as if someone had turned up the volume ten-fold. With an expression of fear that seemed to amaze even the little cub, the cougar stopped dead in his track. While the cub continued to roar, the camera pulls back to reveal the mammoth Kodiak bear roaring in support of his friend. It was almost as if his friend, the Kodiak, was saying, “I had to wait until you made your move; until you reached your Yet Point.” The cougar grateful that his own life was spared, turns tail and runs with a look that seemed to say, “I didn’t know, I didn’t know! Obviously, those who be with you are more than those who be with me.”

Fear not, your roar may seem to you to be quite anemic and shrill, but if it comes from a whole heart and a willing mind, the Lord will send help from His sanctuary and roar from Zion like mighty peals of thunder causing your enemies who come against you in one way to flee in seven different ways. “Can you thunder with a voice like His?” (Job 40:9) “But the Lord thundered with a great thunder (voice) on that day against the Philistines and confused them, so that they were routed before Israel.” (1 Sam 7:10) “You called in trouble (rejoiced greatly in the Lord in spite of all appearances), and I rescued you; I answered you in the hiding place of thunder.” (Ps 81:7) In other words, don’t worry about the intensity or quality of your roar, just work on the intensity and quality of your devotion, but by all means, ROAR! God will most assuredly cause you to rejoice over your enemies and cry out with the psalmist, “I have been young, and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his descendants begging bread.” (Ps 37:25)

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