Limiting the Holy One
Paul L. Garlington
 
There is an age-old adage, “Seeing is believing.” While we have persistently resorted to this worn out crutch to support our view of reality, the facts are polar opposites. People always see in their experience what they believe. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Being committed to their belief, their perception of reality is distorted to conform to their belief system, even if the end result is not in their best interest. The tragedy here is that every belief, without exception, requires that we limit the Holy (wholly) ONE. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.” (Rom 1:18,19) Hence, we all know the truth, but because of our prideful commitment to make the truth conform to what we choose to believe, we suppress the truth, limit God, and experience the wrath of God. Irrespective of what you may have been taught about the wrath of God, it is never, ever personal, but always a result of refusing to concede all glory to the Infinite One. “For my people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me (the infinite, unlimited God), the fountain of living water to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. Is Israel a slave?...Why has he become a prey?...Have you not done this to yourself, by your forsaking the Lord your God, when He led you in the way?” (Jer 2:13,14,17) In other words, since God unlimited is the reality in which we live and move and exist, whatever (i.e., in our thinking) limits God, also limits us. As a branch separated from the vine withers and dies, when we suppress the truth that “I and the Father are one,” we inevitably experience the painful sense of separation from God, good, and all that our hearts desire. “For even though [we] knew God, [we] did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but [we] became futile in [our] speculations and [our] foolish heart was darkened.” (Rom 1:18,19,21)

To this very day, futile speculation constitutes the basis of all beliefs and requires that we limit God’s power, presence, and intelligence. Therefore, if anyone desires to facilitate a speedy return in consciousness to paradise, the promised land, a return with the whole heart to God unlimited is a mandatory prerequisite. You have no choice here. If you would be free, you simply must abandon without remorse the restricted, limited God of dualistic thinking to embrace the Infinite One, besides whom, there’s none else. All of life’s painful and seemingly interminable complexity has been reduced to sublime simplicity: We limited the Holy One. There is, therefore, only one reason we run out of money, time, energy, or experience lack in any form. We limit the Holy One. I have come to a point in my life that even if it means I have to travel alone, I will not limit the Holy One. It is unthinkable! Whatever fear I have to face or monster of my own creation I need to expose, I have abandoned the untenable concept of a limited God to embrace, with joy unspeakable, God unlimited. God is all in all. This is not my Utopian vision of a future world, but a joyful declaration of eternal, unchangeable, present reality.

“Yet they still continued to sin against Him (i.e., miss the mark, the glory of God), to rebel against the Most High in the desert (i.e., the place where we think we see lack in its most severe form, the place where we feel justified in our reasons for limiting God). And IN THEIR HEART THEY PUT GOD TO THE TEST by asking food according to their desire. Then they spoke against God; they said, ‘Can (limiting God’s power) God prepare a table in the wilderness? Behold, He struck the rock, so that waters gushed out, and streams were overflowing; can He give bread also? Will He provide meat for His people?’...They did not remember His (unlimited) power.” (Ps 78:17-20,42a) They are reacting to the wilderness, the scene of lack, as reality, while foolishly insisting that God’s claims, not their beliefs, should be put to the test. Like Adam, they would rather arrogantly, yes, even stupidly, lay the issue at God’s doorstep (i.e., God must prove beyond shadow of doubt His right to claim absolute power), even if it means they forfeit paradise, the promised land. Will God ever respond to this foolish challenge? In the words of Bill Cosby, “How long can you tread water, Noah?”

As if this position isn’t heinous enough, the children of Israel compound their problem by conducting this controversy in their hearts. Isn’t it true that when we vocalize our true feelings, especially to a faithful friend, the absurdities in our thinking are immediately apparent? The day we drop all defenses and become totally honest with God about God, will also be the day that our dungeon shakes and our chains fall off in an awesome display of God’s power. It is the day of our visitation.

Can you understand now why it was written, “For they (the disciples) had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened”? (Mk 6:52) We are unable to gain insight from yesterday’s miracles because we have yet to deal with why we needed to have a miracle in the first place. Committed to accepting the problem as fact, and questioning the extent of God’s power, every new situation raised the same, age-old, tired question, “Can God...?” These God dishonoring beliefs lie dormant as long as the money is flowing, the job appears to be going well, and you’re feeling good. But let any one of these things seem to go awry, and the ancient controversy is ignited afresh. Without exception, whenever people come in to talk with me, everything is fine until I start getting close to what they are saying in their hearts about God, the very lie that, once exposed, will reveal how they limit God and lead to a turning of their captivity. Oh how we fight tooth and nail to protect the lie, the enemy within. Like the Israelites of old, “How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! And again and again they tempted God, and pained (limited) the Holy One of Israel.” (Ps 78:40-41)

Jesus said the seed (word of God) that brings forth some thirty, sixty, a hundred-fold is sown in an honest heart. The people are legion who will be scrupulously honest with the facts but not the truth. God unlimited in power for whom nothing is too wonderful is the eternal truth. Your heart isn’t honest until you are ready to own how much and how often you restrict, in your thinking, God’s power. It is not what you deserve that’s causing you to have the problem. As Clint Eastwood said in the movie, Unforgiven, “Deserves ain’t got nothin’ to do with it.” What you think you deserve is just a by-product of the one issue, namely, you limit God. Do we limit (the power of) the desert to hurt us? Never! We are totally convinced that the desert can kill us! We never question its power. Nevertheless, we always find justification for raising questions about God in our hearts, resulting in a limitation of the Holy One. Now that our problems are bigger than God, we have to come up with non-issues like, “I don’t deserve this or that,” or “I feel so unworthy” to explain our experience of lack in a way that portrays us as the victim and God as the victimizer. Like Job, we feel we have a case against the Holy One. Do you really want to even try to make this case against God? Wouldn’t it be far better to lose the battle and win the war? Can you limit God and not restrict yourself? Can you exalt God and not be exalted yourself? Aren’t you ready for the light of truth that God is to destroy all of your God dishonoring speculations to the end that your captivity can be turned? Would you foolishly consent to a god who is less than all, simply to allow room for human boasting? Are you determined to be right even if it’s dead right?

If we are to ever be restored, we must repent. “The wicked will return to Sheol, even all the nations who forget God.” (Ps 9:17) Protest as much as you like, there is only one reason our life seems like a living hell, and that is because we have forgotten God. But in the day you remember the Lord, “Even if I make my bed in hell, behold Thou art there with me.” In the light of the revelation, “Thou art there with me,” the place where we are is no longer hell. Face it! If you still feel you are catching hell, the issue is entirely on your plate. You have yet to remember the true God! In the poignant words of Jonah, “‘While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to Thee, into Thy holy temple. Those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness, but I will sacrifice to Thee with the voice of thanksgiving...’ Then the Lord commanded the fish (whale of a circumstance), and it vomited Jonah (set him free) up onto the dry land.” (Jon 2:7-10)

“Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.” (Ps 103:1,2) Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? If God can’t, who is there who can? God is the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient One. Who is there to stay His hand or say to him what has Thou done? He speaks and it is done He commands and it stands fast. Will you not be aware of God and all that God is? David said, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Ps 27:13) David is dealing authentically with the fact that he was about to throw in the towel. It is a moment of painful, yet joyful, honesty with himself. In his dark hour of despair, it suddenly “clicked” for him. “If I don’t believe I’ll see the goodness of the Lord while I live, futility and despair is my only alternative. Therefore, I’m joining the celebration of the truth that the Lord is good, without limit, without end.” Do you get it? All that God is (and God is all), He is that forever, world without end.

Is it starting to sink in? God cannot cease to be all for God cannot deny Himself. We persist in our own private hell because we forget the truth that God is. From this vantage point, we want to analyze nonsense, always looking in the wrong places for the truth that liberates. We must look in our own heart. Paul says, “God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness has shined into our hearts.” Isaiah said, “The people that walk in darkness have seen a great light. They that dwell in the valley of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined.” Once that light has shone into your heart, he then says, “Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.” There is no alternative. You must get off the fence, and declare, “Desert or no desert, wilderness or no wilderness, difficult circumstance or not, I will not limit God. I will not put God to the test. I have settled it. This is where I stand, I shall not be moved. This is the path I am on, I will not stray, nor be distracted from it.”

Once you have assumed a position that honors God as the only power, you will begin to see the 23rd Psalm in a totally new light. “The Lord (the consciousness of God’s omnipresence) is my shepherd, I shall not want (lack for anything). He makes me lie down in green pastures (abundance of everything we could ever need or desire).” Can you sense the joy, peace and absolute security of this sweet singer of Israel who penned these words in the crucible of nitty-gritty life experience? This is not the murmuring heart of one that is still questioning the allness of God’s power, is it? Isn’t it time for you to ask yourself what do you really believe? When in your heart, with all your heart, you remember the true God and give Him all the glory that is due, you too will feel like singing His praise.

Continuing, “He leads me beside quiet waters (waters of rest).” When we think about water, we think about that which totally slakes our thirst. The God of peace is the fountain of living waters in which we find rest and satisfaction. It is in that state of inner calmness, called the secret place of the Most High, that we invariably find the reality that satisfies. “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat.” (Is 55:1a)

“He restores my soul.” What does that mean? David says, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?” It would seem that it is in the area of the soul that we limit the Holy One. Hence, David said, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord (make God great in your thought life) with me, and let us exalt His name together.” (Ps 34:1-3) Mary says, “My soul doth magnify (make great) the Lord.” Your soul has been restored when you have returned to the truth of magnifying exclusively the Holy One. What did Moses tell them when they were about to enter the promised land? “Ascribe greatness to our God (i.e., not to giant problems, circumstances, etc.).” Are you having difficulties on the job? Could it be because you are ascribing greatness to the boss, or the customer, or employees, everyone but God? In every facet of our life, without exception, where we are experiencing problems of any kind, it will always be due to our failure to ascribe greatness to our God. You must exalt the Lord and ascribe greatness to God until God, and God alone, is power. Then you too will say, “He restores my soul.”

What do I do when my soul is cast down? I must commence without delay the self-interrogation process. I must say to my soul, “If you are cast down, disturbed, or in despair, is it not because you have limited the Holy One?” My heart, illuminated by the light of the glory of God, always leads my soul out of despair. It is the heart that knows the way out. ASCRIBE GREATNESS TO GOD until God alone is exalted, until God is all that is. When my soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my savior, and all captivity is turned. “Therefore, my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices, my flesh also will dwell securely.” (Ps 16:9)

Do you see it? When you are feeling cast down to such a degree that music doesn’t even seem to make a difference, you need the truth that stands alone. Only the truth that stands alone will lift you up and cause you to exclaim, “My soul does make its boast in the Lord.” Why? Because it was my soul that conceded to another power. Far too many people, having entertained the lie in their hearts, find their souls greatly cast down. However, rather than take responsibility for their actions and change, they are looking to something or someone outside themselves to alter their state, be it alcohol, drugs, sex, another person, a vacation, et cetera, et cetera. All addictions are rooted in believing a lie about God, good. Isn’t it ironic that having forsaken the fountain of living water, with a heavy heart and a soul in despair, we would rather forfeit paradise than concede all glory to the one and only God? However, a new day is dawning where an ever increasing number of people are saying, “Enough is enough!” These are they that Isaiah called, “The ransomed (those who ascribe power, glory, and honor to God alone) of the Lord.” You will always recognize them for Isaiah says, “They will return (to Zion, paradise, a state of bliss) with joyful shouting, everlasting joy, and all sorrow and sighing has fled away.”

“He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Why? Because God being the self that I am, cannot deny Himself. Do you see it? With our soul being restored by making its boast in the Lord and magnifying God, we now find ourselves being guided in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. It is a dangerous myth to think God will act because we are in pain or that He is moved by our suffering. The children of Israel, who languished in pain and suffering for 400 years, proved that wasn’t the case. However, when they, led by Moses, turned to the one and only true God and magnified His name, He brought them out with a shout to a place of abundance.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me.” Since God who is life is the eternal, omnipresent reality, where can death be found? Hence, death, the last enemy, is destroyed by the revelation of God as infinite, eternal life and there is none else. Because God unlimited is with me, yea even present as me, I fear no evil, for God, good is the only power. Moreover, a shadow by definition is comparative darkness due to interception of light rays. But who or what is there that can stop God from being the omnipresent light that God is? “I am the Lord and there is no other.” Hence, I must conclude that the valley of the shadow of death is an illusion because God is there and God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. So the darkness must exist only in the heart of the one who entertains doubt about God’s power. Again, ascribe greatness to God alone.

“Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.” Then why do we often feel beaten and afflicted? Could it actually be that we have been believing that God is the source of the beatings? Perish the thought! The source of all suffering is due exclusively to self-flagellation sustained by the refusal to concede all glory to God as the only One. Contrariwise, from the vantage point of oneness, it was God’s rod that brought water out of the flint rock for the thirsty Israelites, worked miracles of deliverance in their wilderness, and still comforts us today.

To the burning question, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?” We have to respond with who’s asking the question? If we, like the Apostle Paul, have declared, “...For I know in whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him (mainly myself)”, then we will celebrate on a daily basis the fact that God goes before us preparing the way for Himself as us. (2 Tim 1:12) Every day confirms the truth that there is an abundance and to spare for all those who persist in the celebration of the fact, “That the Lord is good and His mercies endureth forever.” Let God be true, let every appearance that limits the Holy One be a lie. From now on, let’s have an in-your-face celebration towards all of our enemies (the lack of all things) by exclaiming along with David, yes, even in song, “THOU DOST PREPARE A TABLE BEFORE ME IN THE PRESENCE OF MINE ENEMIES. Thou hast anointed my head with oil. My cup (the abundance of all good things) overflows.” And if you are wondering how long this could possibly last, is it too good to be true, keep on singing, “Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” If like Abraham, we too have been tempted to limit the Holy One of Israel, then let us also as Abraham embrace with joy God’s loving, yet infinitely gentle rebuke, “Is anything too wonderfull for the Lord; at the appointed time, I will return to you (the banquet celebration)...and Sarah shall have a son (every desire fulfilled). (Gen 18:14) “Thou hast also given me the shield of Thy salvation and Thy right hand upholds me; and Thy gentleness makes me great.” (Ps 18:35) “And Sarah said, ‘God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.’” (Gen 21:6)

Again I say...It’s time to laugh! It’s time to roar (in praise that makes God great)! It’s time to move that mountain!

 
 

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