The Surpassing Greatness
 "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord...." Philippians 3:8

Loss.  Discouragement.  Defeat.  Failure.  Suffering.  All of these are very much a part of the life of us all.  Those who believe and follow Him are in no way immune, and are in fact, in many ways more challenged than anyone when they come into our lives, and always uninvited.  In a church culture that too often likes to "sell" Christianity as a ticket to happiness and fulfillment, as defined by the flesh, these states have no place or part.  Their presence in our lives can disable, even destroy our walk with and faith in Him.  They are the "low places," the valleys of trouble and darkness.  We can become consumed with those places, and so become crippled, even paralyzed in our journey with Him.  I know, for there have been so many times when I have been consumed with the low places of life.  Mourning, grieving what has been lost.  Focused on what has been, and so, unable to see what yet remains.  To see and move toward what He still calls us to, and who He continues to be.  The "valley of the shadow of death" will come to all of us, but we are to go through it, not remain in it.  Yet so many of us do.  Why?

Scripture says that He created us with eternity in our hearts.  This means that He created us for something more, far more, than this life and world.  Without Christ, we are blind to this.  The fact that so many who would profess to be His continue to be blind is a tragedy beyond words. We walk according to our senses, and not by the leading of His Spirit.  T. Austin-Sparks wrote, "The disciples were bold when He was with them, weak and afraid when He was gone.  They'd depended on their senses.  When their sense of Him ceased, so did their power.  We will be on trial for our belief in the resurrection."  We too depend on our senses, and when the deep spiritual crisis comes, our flesh is overwhelmed.  If it can't have visible proof of His presence, then despair is the only option.  We're trapped in the valley of the shadow of death.

But I'm finding, and increasingly, that there is something more to be known here than just that He is with us.  That He will get us through.  Even that we will see victory.  We can know all that, and still be anchored to the world and its "things."  There is a place He calls us to, the place where He lives.  That entering into makes the loss of anything pale in comparison to the knowledge of knowing and being with and in Him.  This doesn't dismiss the pain of losing a loved one, or of divorce, or the waywardness of a troubled child.  That pain is real, but its power over us is broken by His presence and power over all of it.  If we will live a life consumed with Him, we can never be consumed by what seeks to destroy us in the valley of the shadow.  We know there is something far greater.  We know that everything here is passing away, but He and the Life He calls us to will never pass away.  He created eternity in our hearts, and bids come live with Him there right now.  No, we cannot have its fullness here, but we can have it to the fullest extent possible right now.  It is His resurrection life, and that life is available to us now.  He conquered sin and death in all of its forms at and on the cross.  Therefore sin and death in all forms is powerless against His life when it is freely at work within us.

Whatever loss, heartache or valley we may be walking in today, know not just that He is greater.  Know Him.  Know His Life.  Live in it.  We were not made for this world, but for His.  We are passing through this world even as it passes away.  He will one day wipe every tear away, but in the meantime, He will not allow the very real tears of this life to conquer us.  Bring it all to Him.  To His cross.  Yield it up to Him.  Let Him minister His Life to you.  The reality of the loss will be there.  The reality of Him will be greater.  The loss is in the moment.  He is forever.

Pastor O
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   May 2019   
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