Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Short Version

It was late in the evening. I had been a Christian for several years already. I still didn’t completely trust in God; I wasn’t completely assured that He was love. I doubted that He was completely in control and that He wanted my best. So to pray “May your will be manifested in my life” and “Lead me closer to your heart” that evening was a leap of faith in those early days of my walk. I can recall that I was terrified that God would lead me into suffering, or that He would let some sort of tribulation come my way. I wasn’t ready for any Gethsemane experience, and I was certain if that would be the case I would plead: remove this cup from me.

However, God took my prayer very seriously, and confident that He could lead me perfectly through everything I feared He began His works in me. Let me be completely honest; all my worst nightmares came through. When my preconceived notions about how the Christian life should be lived were sufficiently shaken He could begin teaching me that I was dead to the law, that I was perfect in Christ and that my salvation was secure. When my desert experience came to a conclusion He led me to the Jordan River which He lured me across. Repeatedly He has encouraged me to take leaps of faith further and further into the Promised Land. This fall He has opened my eyes to the mystery, Christ in us. In everything He has turned out to be more than faithful.

In order to heal me from my many personal issues He first had to crush me. He led me into situation after situation which challenges I tried to conquer in my own powers. It wasn’t until I came to the end of myself and all my resources were exhausted that He could establish Christ in me as my new identity. During the dark nights there were times the excruciating pain rendered me with a wish to die. God has, however, revealed that I was already dead, and that I am now leading the glorious resurrection life of Christ. A week ago God showed me that Jesus was perfectly capable of vicariously living as me in pain and suffering, and through that revelation a new outlook was created in me, and darkness turned to light.

There was a long period of my life where I fought against difficulties perceiving them as the works of the devil. I believed that the Christian was predestined to prosperity. I dreaded to read passages which dealt with suffering, and I even rationalized them as experiences meant for the first Christians. Despite all this, God continued telling me that He would give me treasures hidden in the darkness. I thought He meant secrets hidden in the scriptures. He meant treasures hidden in suffering. Now He is establishing me in joy whatsoever circumstance I encounter, because He is all in all.

He has more than answered my prayer that evening. To my astonishment I can now say that I appreciate He has been finding it worthwhile to perform this huge job in me. I also find it important to note that it hasn’t been suffering all the way. There have been long periods of calm and peace, filled with joy and happiness and occasional daily challenges which I by and by have learned to return to Him. What I remember most clearly from this journey, are all those moments when He has spoken directly to me about things He has wanted to share about His character and who I am in Him, and all those times when He has embraced me with His love and held me tight. Together we have gone from victory to victory, and He has taught me how to reign in life.

I have lost count of how many times my Father has led me to this passage:

Isaiah 45

1 "This is what the LORD says to his anointed,
to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of
to subdue nations before him
and to strip kings of their armor,
to open doors before him
so that gates will not be shut:

2 I will go before you
and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze
and cut through bars of iron.

3 I will give you the treasures of darkness,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the LORD,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.

4 For the sake of Jacob my servant,
of Israel my chosen,
I summon you by name
and bestow on you a title of honor,
though you do not acknowledge me.

5 I am the LORD, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me,

6 so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
men may know there is none besides me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other.

7 I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the LORD, do all these things.

8 "You heavens above, rain down righteousness;
let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide,
let salvation spring up,
let righteousness grow with it;
I, the LORD, have created it.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. (2 Cor 2:14)

If we suffer, we shall also reign with him. (2 Tim 2:12)

For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:17)

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