Jesus seems to be spending much time with me lately taking me into deeper understandings of a few verses which have long been favorites. He has been “sowing” this seed into my actuality—my real life experiences—for some time now.
It has to do with our responses to life’s unexpected and difficult events and whether we choose to respond in our flesh or in His Spirit. It has to do with suffering and being filled with fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit in the midst of suffering. It has to do with being conformed into His image (Romans 8:29); and being transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2). There are many layers to this teaching, and with each layer, a new and deeper experience of His perfect peace becomes ours. This journey is ours—He is reaching out His hand and asking, “Will you follow me?” and we, like the disciples, can indeed, follow Him. It is a strange and wonderful journey; it can often be a terrifying journey as He sometimes allows dark passages down lightless alleyways and at times, hanging suspended over treacherous cliffs. With His hand always on our backs, He repeats His question “Will You follow Me? Will you trust Me?”
There are times when I have said “No, not if it means suffering—not if it means allowing this thing into my life—this thing that nearly destroyed my faith altogether!” But, in the end, I always consent because my burning, passionate love for Him—a love that has grown ever deeper through the difficult times, drives me into Him.
This journey has given me a passion to walk alongside others as they navigate this path; as their faith feels fragile and hanging by a thread. My one message is this: There is something more wonderful at the end than you can ever imagine; something so much bigger than your mind can conceive and it is all worth it. It is all worth it. As Paul so beautifully wrote:
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge– that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:16-21).
I have spoken many times of the above verses, and have prayed them word for word for my children and grandchildren. It seems to encapsulate everything God would Himself pray for us. He wants us to know Him. He wants us to be rooted and established in His love. He wants us to have His power to be able to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is His love—a love that surpasses knowledge and to be filled with all of His fullness. This is the will of God.
Yet, we choose to live here in this temporal fallen place and wallow around in our pitiful selves and then to question God as to why He is allowing thus and such to happen to us. Beloved! He is allowing it in order to release all of the things spoken of in this passage of Scripture! It is all a part of the story He is weaving. Press on! Keep on believing—against hope—believe.
I read in my Streams in the Desert this morning a wonderful translation of another of my favorite passages:
“Therefore I take pleasure in being without strength, being insulted, experiencing emergencies, and being chased into a corner for Christ’s sake; for when I am without strength, I am dynamite!” (2 Cor. 12:10).
A.B. Simpson explains:
“The secret of knowing God’s complete sufficiency is in coming to the end of everything in ourselves and our circumstances. Once we reach this point, we will stop seeking sympathy for our difficult situation or ill treatment, because we will recognize these things as the necessary conditions for blessings. We will then turn from our circumstances to God, realizing they are the evidence of Him working in our lives.” (Cowman, L.B. Streams in the Desert. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI. 1925, 1953, 1965, updated 1997.)
Paul goes on in this same passage and actually says, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10).
He delights in these things!
This is our victory—this is our declaration of truth in the very face of the onslaught of oppression and attack and emotional pain and suffering and this is where His strength is made perfect. Trust me, this is not an easy thing to learn, it is a seed that we often hear and it brings a divine Amen to our emotions, but to take the seed and sow it into our actual experience—well, this takes supernatural, divine sowing and the only part we play is to consent to it, and to declare it as truth, whether our emotions believe it or not.
Here is our declaration of truth:
I am hard pressed on every side, but I am not crushed!
I am perplexed, but I am not in despair!
I am persecuted, but I am not abandoned!
I am struck down, but I am not destroyed!
I always carry around in my body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in my body!
For I am honored and count it a privilege that I am always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake!
Our emotions will come to believe it, trust me, and it will produce the harvest that Jesus is after in our lives and that harvest will feed many for years to come because when it has done its work in our soul, others want what we have—they see that “we have been with Jesus.”
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
Let this then be our passion in life—that others would say of us, “we see that she has been with Jesus.” And they would want what we have.