I introduced the term “Personal Sovereignty” in the past week and I want to revisit the topic and give a bit of personal experience on this subject. Personal Sovereignty is not to me some political notion or linked to some group or process. I am simply exploring a concept that I think has significant spiritual and personal implications and which we do well to think about.
I explained last time that Personal Sovereignty, as far as I am looking at it, is the right and responsibility of each person to stand before the Living God. That, I assert, is an amazing privilege afforded every person on the planet. It is a level of personal sovereignty which cannot be taken away from us.We have to submit to authority, as a parent to a child and wife to a husband. But that does not preclude our complete access to our personal sovereignty before God. A slave, prisoner, refugee, paralytic, cripple, child or illiterate fool has the same innate right that the most educated and powerful people on earth are afforded. They can come into God’s presence and ask for God’s help, face God’s judgement and otherwise do business with the God of all eternity.
That’s awesome to me. That’s a level of personal privilege which is inalienable – it can’t be taken away from us. Bankruptcy, death row, the lunatic asylum, torture or any hideous predicament can’t take from us our right to deal directly with the God who created the entire universe.
Now, I promised to share about the first time personal sovereignty was experienced in my life – at least this is a significant moment when I found my personal sovereignty – even though I did not understand the concept specifically at that time. This is the short version. If you get to hear me in public, you may get to hear the ‘colourful’ version.
As a young married man I attended a small church. The pastor was at times quite confronting toward his flock. If he saw a problem he would follow it up, visiting people’s homes to track down gossip, or to otherwise deal with something he deemed out of order. During this season I made it my business to adopt a “guilty until proven innocent” approach. By that I mean that I was very willing to accept that I may have been wrong, even if I didn’t think I was wrong, since the human heart has a way of telling us we’re OK, when we have been out of order.
Several times I was challenged by my pastor over attitudes he perceived I carried. To my wife’s annoyance I always accepted the charge and happily apologised and put things “right”, even if Susan was sure I wasn’t wrong.
One fateful day, however, my pastor visited with some issue he felt I needed to deal with and I came to the conclusion I really was innocent. I politely accepted my pastor’s suggestions, but, rather than assuming I was wrong I responded differently. I said, “I’ll certainly pray about that and see what God says.”
After my pastor left my home I stood in the middle of my humble living room, under the light fitting, and looked up. I said, “Lord, I hear what my pastor says, and You know my heart. If I have been out of order I want to put it right. But I don’t have any conviction that I am out of order. So I present myself to You. I ask You to judge me and to convict me if I am wrong. You know that I will respond as soon as you do. But until you do convict me I’m going to treat this as a non-issue. Amen”
That moment had great impact on me. I never did get convicted about the thing. I don’t even remember what it was. But I knew that I had stepped into something significant. I had stepped before God’s throne instead of before my pastor’s office. I had walked into a new experience of my personal sovereignty.