Hello from Kathy Collard Miller in the Southern California desert near Palm Springs where I’m feeling the heat.
Have you ever wondered what holiness feels like? Malachi 4:2 expresses what God might like us to experience when we see the fruits of holiness that he is producing in our lives: “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.”
Have you ever “leapt” in your spirit after recognizing that your trust in God had expanded to include forgiving someone who hurt you because you recognize how much you’ve been forgiven? Or giving grace by listening with understanding to a friend share a problem—even though she usually ignores you—because you’ve experienced God’s grace? Or resting calmly in a situation that normally drives you over the edge because you know God is in charge? Or being patient when your child spills milk at the dinner table for the third time because you know God has repeatedly been patient with you? We’re no longer fenced in and held in bondage by sinful patterns like worry, fear, selfishness, hate, resentment, and so many other binding things.
The NIV words it: “And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.” Oh, to frolic like well-fed calves! Can’t you just picture it? This calf isn’t emaciated; instead it is healthy and well-nourished. It has drank often from the fresh, flowing spring. That seems to give the idea that it is assured that all it’s real needs are supplied and it is free from concern about receiving love and care.
That’s the foundation of holiness: believing and trusting in God’s sovereign love that provides everything we truly need; therefore, we don’t need to demand it from people who are needy themselves. But where does all this start?
The background to Malachi gives us the answer. The Israelites were in another phase of disobedience and Malachi gave God’s prophecy to try to turn them back to God. After three chapters of rebuke, the final chapter, Chapter 4, predicts what will happen when they do turn back. Meditate on that promise again. “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.”
God brings healing to his people and there’s a feeling of joy about being set free. Healing brings holiness and holiness brings joy. God heals us of our wounds which have created wrong ideas about life, God, and people. We begin to view our circumstances and the people around us as opportunities to serve God by being a servant. Less and less our attitude is, “I want to be a servant only if my needs are also fulfilled.” More and more our attitude is, “I’ll be a servant for God’s glory regardless of how my own needs are met.”
We all are still growing in this of course, for as long as we live, but the joy that comes when we cooperate with God is like skipping out of a pen where we’d been restrained. We do not obey in order to have that feeling, but how generous of God to give us the reward to bless us.
Are you like a calf encircled in some stall? Could it be bitterness, a critical spirit, a sense of entitlement, people pleasing, or self-absorption? Do you want to break free? You can in God’s power through asking for God’s forgiveness and healing. Then surrender to whatever His plan is for you. Receive the healing. Get ready to leap, gambol, and frolic. God is opening the gate.
(Excerpt from Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today by Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller)