Tuesday, March 14, 2006

When You Finally Bottom Out

Big, bad Nebuchadnezzar. He's flirted so many times with bending his knee to the one, true God. Eventually, God comes to him and warns him about the judgment he is bringing upon himself. God even lets him know what he could do to avoid it. But Nebuchadnezzar decides to ignore the warning. And God humbles him the hard way.

But there is a turning point to the story -- a turning point and a happy ending.

"At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven" (Daniel 4:34a).

Obviously, this doesn't mean he just looked up at the sky. The king had spent his entire life looking down on other people. God had brought him down so low that there was no one to look down upon. Now, in his despair, he finally had to look up, and, when he did, he saw the One he had been avoiding his whole life. Now he goes to God because he has nowhere else to go. And that's all God was waiting for.

All Nebuchadnezzar had to do was turn his gaze towards heaven, and he discovered a God who loved him with an all-consuming love -- a love that will discipline if necessary. A love that waits for prodigal little boys and girls to come home.

We all go through times of pain and difficulty. We all find ourselves at low points. But what do you do when you finally bottom out? My answer is: look up.

One of the things you'll find when you look up is that life isn't all about you. Nebuchadnezzar learns this. Here's the most powerful man in the world -- the guy who built the greatest city in the world. He's been disgraced, broken, humiliated, homeless, insane. If that happened to me, I wouldn't want anyone to know about it. But Nebuchadnezzar wrote this story; this is his testimony. And he sends it, "To the peoples, nations and men of every language, who live in all the world" (v. 1).

It no longer matters what people think about him. It only matters that they know about this amazing God who patiently warns and waits and disciplines when necessary but only disciplines as long as it takes. This God who is so humble will allow us to bottom out if that's what it takes to get us to look up and see him.