The Care and Feeding of the Heart: Be on the Lookout for the Watchman… In YOU!
The main course for a feast of the heart today is how those who are in Christ, running the good race [E.g., disciples of Jesus Christ], should Be on the Lookout for the Watchman… In Him or Her Self.
The content and attributes of what it means to be a “Watchman on the Wall” (Ezekiel 3:17-19; 33:6; Isaiah 62:6) below is vitally important and taken from my book, The Weeping, the Window, the Way.
As it pertains to my book about how best to redeem suffering in the life of a Christian: It’s important to note that the role of “Watchman on the Wall” in the life of a growing, refined, more Christ-like disciple is included in THE WAY portion: A redemptive characteristic or “fruit” of THE WAY we move back into the world after “faithfully and intentionally processing the pain” is how we mature as a Watchman on the Wall.
I know that as you read about for the first time—or refresh your memory—the attributes of a “Watchman on the Wall” below, you will recognize the vital importance OF the role, and how we must seek to take it up each and every day!
A Preface to Be Very Honest About:
The Heart of a Watchman is a Matter of the Heart.
Have You Been Born Again?
The DOING of the Watchman must begin with his or her BEING. If our DOING precedes the precious and grace-given transformation of our BEING, we are dead men walking… striving, groveling, and grinding our way in life, Beloved.
Can you tell me the circumstances of your coming to faith in Jesus Christ? Can you tell me exactly or approximately when you were born again, and what occurred “inside and out” to change you in sometimes simple and quiet to start, sometimes dramatic, and yet in some fundamental ways?
Can you tell me your chronological / faith story in enough detail… draw me a picture… recall certain memories of the high’s and the low’s… to describe the personal tapestry of futility, faith, and fruitfulness in your life?
Moving from darkness to light?
From woundedness to wonder?
From being an orphan to being a cherished son or daughter of God’s family?
From being deeply ashamed and guilt-ridden to being highly approved and grace-riddled in Christ Jesus?
From hard-hearted resentment, exasperation to a soft-, flesh-hearted empathy and good will?
From being anonymous to mattering to The Only One that… Who… matters?
From fear, worry, and analysis paralysis to assured, content, and free to fly or to falter?
From a sourpuss, pithy, under- or over-ripe tasting fruit to a juice-down-the-chin, scrumptious, organically-grown-by-the-Spirit sort of fruit?
From focusing only on the hurt to seeing the help God graciously offered you?
From being hardened, embittered, contemptuous, and suspect to being softened, peaceable, hopeful, and trusting?
From an identity of imperfection to the imputed perfection of Christ to your record?
From an identity of being a disappointment to that of being a pure delight?
From always feeling undressed and ashamed before man to being naked and unafraid before God?
From the untenable high-wire act of not being as bad as Hitler, as good as Mother Teresa to being clothed in the righteous of Jesus Christ… free at last to serve in fallible yet joyful obedience?
From a “damned spot of indelible stain” to washed white as snow in the Blood of the Lamb?
From avoiding conflict of any sort to becoming better at addressing it as a peacekeeper, secure in and through God’s Truth and Love?
From being in bondage to the world, the flesh, and the devil’s ways to the freedom of the Kingdom, the Spirit, and the watching-Saints ways?
From avoiding pain, or any sort “discomfort-as-punishment”, to embracing suffering and the “discomfort-as-purification”—moving ever-closer to the likeness of Christ?
From a scarcity, glass-half-empty person to an abundance, glass-as-fountain, always overflowing to slake the thirst of others, person?
From the grimace and grind of getting through each day to the gratitude of and in yet another day?
From one who was always being compared to being incomparably loved by God, in Christ?
From Squanderer, Enemy, and Hireling to
Conservator, Friend-Ally, and Watchman?
PLEASE NOTE: These “characteristics of story and conversion” are not offered as some sort of checklist, my friends. Each “From… To…” experience is a sample of how God redeems us, brings us “FROM death TO life”: “Sola Scriptura” (by Scripture Alone); “Sola Gratia” (by Grace Alone); “Sola Fide” (by Faith Alone); “Solus Christus” (by Christ Alone); and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory). Perhaps you have identified in one or many of these “characteristics of story and conversion”… or not. It’s crucial to be open to question, to confirm, to resonate, to affirm, to doubt, to weep tears of joy and / or sadness, to reach out and talk to others about this, and to secure, savor, and sing it out from the mountaintops… beginning where you lay your head at night!
One’s conversion, and the organic journey of faith thereafter, is a non-negotiable for God—we must be:
a) chosen by God (Colossians 3:12-17; Ephesians 1:4-5),
b) given as a gift by the Father to Christ in His atoning sacrifice (John 3:31-36),
c) regenerated, made spiritually alive, by the Spirit at just the right time (Ezekiel 11:19-21; 2 Corinthians 5:17),
d) born again from the outside and above (John 3:3-8), and,
e) set free, saved-to-serve as a disciple—revealing light and preserving salt—in order to partner with The Trinity to help redeem the world (1 Corinthians 15:56-58; Matthew 28:16-20). Period (1 John 2:18-27).
God’s plan of redemption is offered to the world, all humankind, but must be accepted by each human being though repentance, faith, and good works… in that order. [NOT works, or trying to follow the law, that precedes repentance and faith to earn God’s favor. No fallible human being can stand before a pure and utterly holy God or work ourselves to death on the way to pleasing Him—we all need the covering of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross and the freedom to serve out of gratitude… not begrudgingly or claiming God should be beholden.]
Short of embracing God’s Plan of Redemption, we are on, a) this fallen and fast-passing world’s side, b) our selfish nature’s side, or c) Satan’s side. That’s a hard truth, or way-big elephant under the lumpy rug admission, but—unlike the endless parsing we can go into—God’s not into gray here: “It’s My Way [Truth and Life] or the Broadway to Perdition”, claims God (Matthew 7:13-14; 1 John 2:18-27).
Don’t let this biblical claim of exclusivity distract you: All religions have exclusive claims; logically, they cannot all be equally true; biblical Christianity is not only the only faith that could be true, but God reaching down to save us [relationship in the bible]—rather than man reaching up to save himself [“religion” by definition and our detriment]—reflects the deepest need of humankind’s heart!
Biblical Christianity is the most EXCLUSIVELY INCLUSIVE plan and faith of all (John 3:16).
Until we see our utter unacceptability to God we will not consider how dearly He accepts us… in Christ… as dearly as God accepts His only Son, His Beloved, with Whom God is unimaginably well-pleased.
Please, Know Your Conversion Story Well!
It’s How We Lovingly and Truthfully Enter into
the Stories of All Humankind.
Conversions are rarely a “road to Emmaus”, lightning flash, or sea-parting experience. It’s sometimes a quiet and subtle shift in spirituality, emotions, perspective, relationships, and intellect over time. It can be akin to being plucked out of hell; but it can also be a gentle yet real paradigm shift about God, self, heaven, and the hell of the self-saving life.
Whatever the case, I beg that you might search your heart, make an explicit record of your story and your conversion within it, and tell it to ONE person to start with… and MANY MORE down the road.
If none of the above touches your heart—or pokes at a place that elicits resentment or deep doubt—please [oh please…] be circumspect, be brutally honest about this most important facet of your time and eternity: “Have you repented of your sin, been born again, baptized as an adult, and saved to serve?”
From Squanderer, Enemy, and Hireling to Conservator,
Ally, and Watchman?
Upon your conversion, I bet you didn’t know right away that not only were you adopted into a new family and relieved of any shame, but were also commissioned in God’s army as a Watchman on the Wall, right?
“WWW”, Appendix A
An Important Consideration for the Way Forward:
Ezekiel and the Role of “The Watchman on the Wall”
The prophet Ezekiel points to the prophetic role God calls all Christians to play in a culture that strays from God in all sorts of awful ways, a culture very much like the one in which Ezekiel and the other prophets ministered. Regularly applying God’s protocol, the weeping, the window and the way, helps transform our hearts in such a way that we become “watchmen on the wall,” just as Ezekiel was.
Perhaps this is obvious, but let me remind you that the watchman’s audience is primarily the church, not the world. Some of God’s people there have, to be sure, devoted themselves to faithfully following God’s will. But others in the church have gone astray, drifting from the True Truth. And some, sad to say, have become as worldly and corrupt as the culture of comfort all around us. But all tend toward forgetfulness. All need constant reminding.
- Watchmen are called by God. This calling does not ordinarily come with dramatic fireworks or a striking vision but rather as we are born again, as we become new creations in Christ. With the new birth comes a new direction.
- Watchmen love Christ and his followers in a way that provides a covering of God’s person and provision, especially in times of wandering away from God, which happens in every generation! Therefore, Watchmen continually remind God’s people of who he is in every way possible, while also encouraging fellow believers of the many and multifaceted provisions God has mercifully promised to his people.
- Watchmen remain well-aware of the ways in which God has radically transformed their own hearts, emotions, and lives. They are also aware of their ongoing need for further transformation. This awareness creates deep humility, and a broken-heartedness that makes it possible to serve in joy, entrusting the results of their service to God.
- Watchmen live in the world, but are not of it (cf., John 17:15-17). They stand on the wall, as it were, serving as a lookout for approaching spiritual dangers. This provides a unique and much-needed perspective unattainable by those who do not regularly separate themselves from the distractions and deceptions of the world.
- Watchmen take full advantage of the heart transformations God offers. Through this cyclic process, they become more compassionate. They also grow increasingly passionate in their role as watchmen, offering God’s perspective and counsel to his people in: a) remembering who they are, b) warning them of the dangers they face, c) encouraging them in God’s pardon and unconditional love, d) exhorting them toward increasing holiness, Christ-likeness, and e) sharing the hope that flows from Jesus’ open tomb and impending return to rescue his bride.
- Watchmen love the Church Universal as the bride of Christ, the body of true believers scattered throughout the world, God’s people of every tribe, language, and nation. Watchmen also love the church on earth as the institution Jesus has set in place to steward the mysteries of God (cf., 1 Corinthians 4:1-2). While imperfect and flawed, the church on earth is vitally important to our Lord’s mission here on earth. Watchmen stand on the wall, committed to love the church in truth, and to speak truthfully about the church in love.
- Watchmen do not shrink from their God-given responsibilities because of any push-back from the world, the flesh, or the devil, knowing all of these are pitted against God’s plan of redemption.
- Watchmen regularly and intentionally spend time with the Triune God of the Bible, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Watchmen rise early in the day to be with God and in his Word. Watchmen also surround themselves by a community of spiritual friendship and direction, because they know their own hearts and refuse to allow isolation to damage either their faith or their effectiveness in ministry.
Having read this description, in what specific ways do you believe God has called you to be a “watchman on the wall” for his people?
How does your personal story relate to a universal need for Watchmen?
Can you see that the need for Watchmen on the Wall is greater than ever before in our day?
Who in your community of faith can you commit to surround yourself by in order to stay faithful, fit, and free to serve as Watchmen on the Wall together?
May God richly bless you as you take up for the first time, or re-double your faith in word and deed, as a Watchman on the Wall “Today…” (Psalm 95:7-8),
Chosen by God, by R.C. Sproul
When One Person Wakes Up, by Pastor John McArthur