An answer to a note from a brother, for thought and prayer…
Hello. I do definitely understand your dilemma, and agree that this wrestling about such things as “fruitfulness,” and “turning the world upside-down for Jesus,” and having to say “good-bye” to people (ones over the years we have loved and tried so desperately to help), and all of the painful, confusing things we face—is unto the deepening and widening of our hearts, as well as deeper Revelation of the nature of our pilgrimage here on this planet. As I’ve said before, it is not always the ANSWERS that God is trying to help us find to make the pain “go away.” Often times it is the PAIN ITSELF that God is teaching us through. Sometimes, there ARE no answers! Walking through pain IS the answer! Yet, I offer these thoughts…
The things that “shield” me from falling apart when difficult situations arise and keep me from collapsing in despair—fall into three categories, I think. Again, I haven’t tried to express this exactly before, so bear with me.
The obvious WRONG way to “steel” ourselves to feeling too much pain is to treat people as projects, rather than souls. Doing that, we can avoid pain, but we won’t really bring people to the REAL cross and the pain of betrayal and true deep life in the Spirit. And we cheat ourselves and Jesus, immensely. We can only take others to the place where we’ve been, and that sort of lifeless, painless christianity (“project-oriented,” program, hype, pumped up zeal for “spiritual” accomplishments that “count”) can only bear the children resembling the same. That stinks. There must be love, and love brings LARGE risk. And the Cross, every time. “…everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me…” (2Tim. 1:15). Only Love can get you THERE. If you’re afraid of hurt, you may never truly understand or enjoy the magnificence of Love. “Without love…” You know the rest. The “project” approach, in order to protect ourselves is arrogant and un-Christlike and some other things.
The things that “shield” us and keep us “stable” to go on? (As a couple of us discussed earlier today, every item in 1Cor. 13 that describes love is also a description of Godly STABILITY in our relationships with God and with one another! Look them up! STABILITY is a synonym in many ways for LOVE! This is important.)
Though the temptations to quit or back away certainly still occur, here is a ROCK of Truth to stand on…
1. Climbing into Jesus’ lap, for real. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. I’m not kidding. I don’t know if I need to go on past this one, except that Jesus IS the Word, and the TRUTH sets us free, indeed. So, the rest of what I’m about to say IS climbing into Jesus’ lap as well. Truth and Jesus can’t be separated, of course.
The second thing that shields me from collapse or despair at times when things or people or my own failures or _____ don’t go well:
2. The Truth about “reality.” Are we not in a 4-dimensional hologram projection, originating in another realm? Life and death, pain and pleasure, victory and failure… none of these things are the same in GOD’S Economy as ours. We MUST not be desperate over physical death, of course. Why? Because MEN can never take anything away from us without God’s permission. This is what Jesus said when on trial, with His “life” at stake. “Kill” my cocoon? Yea, right.
And with pain or pleasure? Do we seek the second and avoid the first? No. “It’s for this very reason that we’ve come.” We PREFER for the cup to pass, but this is not priority one. PAIN is not an enemy, nor is death in the sense that we cannot see God in them and the benefits being FAR larger than the “seeming” loss.
And what IS a victory? Or a failure? Joseph in prison at the hands of Pot’s wife? Which one is it—victory or failure? And Job’s “tragedies”—so-called? What REALLY are they? Do we dare answer that question from our perspective? Is ANY failure or victory “sacred” in terms of the ability to interpret it as something to be happy or sad about? Death or life, healing or not, suffering or pleasure? “Where WERE you when I pressed the button to begin this 4-dimensional hologram projection?” (God to Job.) Can we let God be God? (This is the question that I ask myself at times of crisis or confusion—when Absalom does his thing—“Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons; not one of them is left”—or, or…).
How does this apply? Well, maybe it’s obvious. Yet, I doubt easy to apply when the confusion or pain or failure lands on our lap. It is a skandalon JUST TO THINK IT THROUGH PROPERLY each time, rather than to react to it—judging ourselves or others, or whatever else our escape valve (“trying harder,” etc.) might be. The application? As we view our neighborhood (or the entire Church, or the entire continent) through the filter of knowing we are here, in these circumstances, not by chance, nor by our own merit or fallacies, but by the Will of God. There is therefore, never cause for panic or reaction or striving or paralyzing remorse. (Think of David just after his first child by Bathsheba “died.”) Things are not as they appear on this “holodeck” projection called earth. God is preparing us for Eternal Habitations and Authority and Healings, and the rest is learning by the Cross and the Spirit. In one way this causes us to interpret all things far more deeply and thoughtfully and seriously than most would. We MUST prepare for the Eternal Task that awaits.
At the same time, this knowledge of how things REALLY are, no matter what they look like, allows us to never take anything “tragic” too seriously. How bad does it “hurt” to get shot by a gun on the “holodeck”? Jail, sickness, loss of eyesight, loss of loved ones, failure in helping our neighborhood to make it spiritually, and on infinitum. The “WEIGHT” of these matters is Learning Christ, not the events themselves. IF we see things God’s Way.
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2Cor 4:13-18).
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight (2Cor. 5:1-7).
And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:27-31).
3. The third “anchor” that holds in times as tough as those you described relates to the nature of what we’ve termed “the Call of God.” We have a solemn obligation before God to represent His current thought to everyone that we come across. That’s called Christianity. If Jesus would “spew” a lukewarm person, so must we without carnal “regret.” I say “carnal” because our version of compassion would not be much like Jesus’ version, usually. He did look at the rich young ruler and “love him”—but He did NOT *regret* saying good-bye to him at that point. There was NO other way and, while he did love him, He KNEW it was Rich’s best chance to EVENTUALLY make it. It would have been some form of self-love to have a different view than that. Or an ignorance of the Principle of point number two above, at least. A shallow view of what LIFE really is.
To make the point, when a person REALLY does have God’s CALL on their life, we may need to do some HEAVY-DUTY work on them, at God’s Command (like sending them off to another city, knowing the terrible times they will have ahead of them)—but THEY WILL BE OKAY!!! If they do NOT have God’s Call on their life, Biblically speaking, they are truly no better off than Darwin’s descendants of chimpanzees anyway. “DEAD in their transgressions and sins.” “Dead even while they live.” So, asking them to move to another city is not any bigger a deal than when God commanded that His People kill every man, woman and child in village after village. Same deal. Same Principle. You can’t kill what is Alive, nor make alive what is Dead.
You can then see, based on Principles ONE, TWO, AND THREE—it isn’t even a big issue if we KNOW if a person has God’s Call on their life and God’s Spirit IN their life! We just go with what He shows us, as best we can. God is God, and we just need to do our BEST to Obey Him. A “mistake” in how we spend our evening (or half of our lifetime!), or if we ask someone to move to another city that we have known for twenty years, or _____…—these are things, mistakes or not, we LEARN from. But nothing could EVER “lock us up” if point one, two and three are firmly rooted within us. Those that are in Christ will EMERGE in immortal Life, and the rest cannot and will not. We are, in a sense, a part of their “holographic projection” to bring them to Christ, perfect them in Christ, or simply to walk through their life to allow them to fill up in themselves the rightful condemnation for their sin. We are part of their holograph. And to us, we are “real”—and all others are part of OUR holographic training course. It is all divinely inspired and ordered, on a Level that only God could understand—intricately weaving each man’s free will with His Sovereign Purpose for each person and event!!!
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen (Rom. 11:33-36).
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Rom. 12:1-2).
Let’s talk more, on a more specific level if you’d like about whatever details of your letter remain outstanding after weaving in these thoughts…