First, my apologies for not posting in so long. Long story short, getting the site up on SSL, and a few other chaotic items in life, left me without much to say for a while. And in ministry, it is my rule to never fake-it-until-I-make-it. I will only ever give what I have received. Without further ado, here we go.
In the last few weeks, my heart has been broken and beaten and emboldened. With a new job, new schedules, pressures on finances, time, and family, I have been very short on strength of my own. God has granted favor in the sight of my bosses, strength (often only noticed in hindsight), and has blessed my family to make it through. I am in a time of stretching, strengthening, and learning with the Lord. Particularly, I liken it to the process a knife goes through to become a quality piece of steel.
When a knife is made, it is forged, shaped and then it is given a strengthening process to make it a quality knife. The steel it is made out of determines a great deal of the knife’s initial strength, but the final process builds strength into the knife that cannot be obtained from the untreated steel. In fact, a friend of mine illuminated me to a depth of this truth I’d never considered. You see, when a knife is given this greater hardness, it is heated to intense temperatures, making the knife almost malleable. Then the knife is thrust into intense cold. As my friend noted, this creates almost a vacuum-sealed effect. Inside, the knife is still hot, but the cooling brings the outside to compress on the innards. As the knife cools, it pulls itself into a tighter form, albeit not necessarily visually. This process of heating and cooling is repeated several times until the intended hardness is reached.
In my own life, God has done some great works; He preserved my children from dangers, granted me the ability to provide for our family, gave me an apartment (later a house) in a town that housed incredible people to encourage and lift me up before Christ, and He gave me a relationship with folks whom I thought our relationship was beyond repair. He has protected, guided, provided, and even backed me into corners (when necessary) as any good Father would. But it doesn’t always feel like that! In fact, sometimes, I am on the verge of insulting His character! Sometimes, I get a wonderful reprieve where all is wonderful and things click like puzzle pieces coming together. Other times, it feels like I’m stuck in an anaconda, fighting just to keep air in my lungs.
This is where Perspective becomes my word-of-the-year! You see, if I look at my situation through my eyes, I crumble! Literally, I end up a sobbing mass of flesh and clothing. It is WAY TOO MUCH for me to handle in my own resources. I begin whining about not having a wife/girlfriend/prospect, about how I don’t have as much savings as I want, about “what happens when…” and “why can’t I…”, and I generally end up sobbing in the arms of my Savior. Over the last several weeks, I have cried out to God over how tight and stretched I am. To quote Bilboa Baggins, I feel “like butter scraped over too much bread.” Are those valid concerns? Absolutely! Are they worth getting worked up over? Not at all because He will meet all my needs in His perfect timing! Further, He has made it known that this is His will for me, for a time!
“But why would God do that to someone? God has abandoned you, Messer! You’re just not bright enough to notice! He’s done with you, gone on holiday or some such thing!”
If you were to say this to me, I would chuckle as a tear slipped out of my eye! The tear is because the enemy is always in my head claiming the same thing! The Accuser stands oh-so ready to indict God or myself. I know the pain of that thought all too well! But I laugh because it is laughable; it is patently absurd to believe that God has abandoned me. In fact, God is right here, catching every tear, marking every whimper, holding up my arms when they cannot hold themselves! He is my ever-present companion, and I should think I would die, if He ever did leave. Yes! In fact, like a man would be crushed if his spotter walked away, so I would die under this weight if my God, if Jesus, would turn His back on me for even a moment!
But therein lies one answer to your question; He would do this to build our strength IN HIM! He would do this to build our confidence IN HIM! He would do this to teach us to trust IN HIM! You see, all things work for His glory! Oh yes, they work for the good of those who love Him, but even that is to His glory, and He will not share His glory! And now, here my tears come; in the midst of these truths, I so often tear up. I find the tears flow like sweet rivers of water into a land rife with drought. Why do they flow? Because in the truth, my soul finds comfort and rest! In Him, who is the Truth, I find my comfort and rest. And when I remember my place, as a creature created to bring glory to Him, and that in my trust, confidence in, submission to and strength in Him, I bring Him glory…that is something that makes me long for my Savior and home! In this moment, I become identified with my Lord, seeking the glory of His Father as He walked, knowingly, toward His brutal, torturous, excruciatingly painful death. And when I am identified with my Lord, my soul leaps, it runs with the strength of eagles and horses, and I am blessed from the inside out.
No. It is not easy. No. It is not comfortable. No. I do not “like” it. No. I am not “happy.”
Yes. His yoke is easy! Yes. He is my comfort! Yes. I am blessed by Him! YES! I am content!
Perspective, dear reader!
Perspective makes all the difference, and is the difference in the above sentences. When I look at myself, my desires, my “goals,” even my perceived needs, I am slowly crushed by the weight. But when I look to Him, to His desires, to His provisions, to His sufferings, I am encouraged! I am emboldened to walk with Him for another step and another step after that. And as I submit my ways to Him, He grants what I need, and He makes me into a tool for His use (with me unaware), to correct, direct, and bless others.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” – 1 Corinthians 15:10
Vires et Honorem