What happens when we consent? I can only speak from my own experiences. Of course, I can relate with the experiences of many of the men and women written about in God’s word, and that corroborates my own in many ways. But until I consented to His working to “will and to do of His good pleasure” in me, their stories were only stories for me. As He allowed sufferings, disappointments, depressions into my life, their stories became real and they became mine.
Once I consented to Jesus Christ and told Him I wanted Him to take the reins of my life it became the wildest journey I ever imagined. He has taken me to the highest mountain peaks of “God Highs” and back down through wilderness valleys and dry deserts. His presence has left me speechless and His absence has left me lonely. I pouted when I had to leave the mountaintops and lamented in the wildernesses as He allowed sorrow and trials to invade. But He has been relentless in His pursuit of our relationship, carefully weighing every ounce of what He has for me on the mountain peaks and every ounce of all that He has stripped from me in the wilderness. Nothing has been wasted. He sometimes allows me a peek behind His plan, but most times He only asks, “Do you trust Me?” I see Him doing that with the men and women in His word as well.
He is white-hot love, but He also remains a mystery in so many ways, and so I consent to the mystery of Him. All of my pre-conceived notions of Him have long since departed as I have consented to His mysterious ways. I no longer accuse Him of unfairness or of not being good after all, or if I do, it is short-lived. Everything He does is right and good even though many times it is shrouded in above-the-line eternal things and even though I don’t always like His chosen process. I’m no longer trying to impress Him with my own good works and I finally get it when He says things like “my strength is perfected in your weakness.” I get that. It is true—it really is.
He has taken me to the precipice of an abyss so deep that I teetered on the edges and nearly dove in, but He rescued me before I could. I have experienced black depression and no longer fear it. I have learned that when depression comes, I can stand, eyes fixed on God until the water rises clear up to my chin, and then recedes again. It always recedes. It comes—to pass. And I have learned from His word that many of His chosen ones experienced the same. And it came—to pass.
He has spoken audibly to my Spirit in night watches until I was forced to get up and write it down, His presence, so near I could taste it. His word has come so alive to me that I gulp it in—food, drink and sustenance. Other times, I merely read it because it is my habit to do so. I no longer rely on my emotional juices to try to work up a spiritual experience of Him. All of the spiritual experiences are at His bidding, not mine. They are not necessary to the relationship but oh, how precious when they come. As with my husband, there were those times when we could go long hours just sitting in the same room without talking, and relationship was as strong as when we engaged in heated discussion or the excitement of shared love. I remember once early in our marriage that I realized I had fallen out of love with my husband. It frightened me because being “in love” was supposed to last forever if it was real. What I learned though, as I held onto the marriage anyway, was that falling out of love was the best thing to happen. It meant that I would learn to “love” without feeling the emotional part of love and once I got hold of that, I discovered that I fell passionately in love with him again and again through the course of our marriage. I was surprised by love—it was nothing like the romance books and movies portrayed it to be.
Lest I forget, in this process of consenting I have learned some things about suffering. I haven’t learned it fully, but I am in that process. I have learned that there is something in suffering that produces—or rather exposes—rare, beautiful and priceless treasure and I would not trade any of it—not for anything. The nearness of Him is most palpable in suffering—ask anyone who has suffered for His name. I’ve never forgotten my friend Judy, dying of a horribly painful spine cancer, being wheeled in for a final surgery. As I asked her “Judy, how are you doing this?” she answered simply, “Kathy, you can’t have the peace I have until you are where I am.” I didn’t get that, but I was in awe of it.Suffering drives you to the nearness of Jesus like nothing else can.
In so many ways, this relationship is like a marriage relationship. It has its ups and downs, its distancing and nearness. There are times when I pout and try to get Jesus to respond and feel sorry for ignoring my feelings. In busyness, I can forget to talk to Him. Like my husband, John used to do when busyness crowded out relationship, he would insist that we leave the house and go for drives. It worked every time. Jesus takes me on quiet outings and insists that I rest—mind, will and emotional rest. It works every time. I understand the Sabbath rest concept more and more these days and I understand that He desires it as much as I do, so I consent to rest. A Sabbath rest—deliberately ceasing all activity, all screens and entertainment for a day, is the cure-all for our furious busyness and stress.
I think that if we looked at our marriages as a mirror of what our relationship with Jesus looks like, we might not be so anxious about the twists and turns that marriage takes. We might look above the line of our own little selves and see the bigger picture that it paints and why God made it the sacred institution that He did. No wonder the enemy has attacked Christian marriages so vehemently.
This relationship, like a years-long marriage, only grows more fully developed and satisfying with my Bridegroom and the older I get, the more I long to finally see Him face to face—not merely to escape the pain of this below-the-line existence, but to fall at His feet and to understand finally, what it has all been about. Knowing that this is yet to come, I consent to the life He has planned out for me here, no matter how trying, how difficult, how confusing. He hasn’t wasted any of it—He redeems it all.