Whatever It Takes

     Every New Year's Eve for the last several years, we've joined together with two other fellowships to worship and bring in the new year.  Each year, there is a time of testimony, when people relate how the Lord has moved in their life.  Usually, it's about how God came through in the midst of, at least to them, very dire circumstances.  Now, it's good to relate to others how the Lord works and blesses in our lives, for it does bring encouragement, but as a good friend says, we so often  say "God is good!"  only when He's done what we wanted Him to do.  Leaving the impression that if He has not, then He's not good.  We like to say that "God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good," but we seem to presume that God will be doing what we want, "all the time."  However, that night, a lady got up and shared words one does not often hear in most fellowships.
    The good sister related that her husband had left her that year, and that she was alone, and with mounting pressures on all sides.  Most, if not all, still remained.  Yet, it was her final words that laid hold of my heart.  She said that in the midst of all this, she had discovered a beauty and knowledge of Him she had never known before, and that if the result of her pain was to bring her deeper into the life and heart of Christ, than her desire was that whatever it takes for that to happen, even if it be deep pain, she welcomed it, because she, like Paul, knew it brought her into the surpassing greatness of knowing Him.

    For most of us, our response to pain is that He remove it, and quickly.  Our ongoing concern in the midst of it is how much longer will it go on, and why isn't the Father doing something to take it away.  Seeing pain and suffering as a roadway to Him, something that He may not author, but will certainly use, continues to be unseen by us.  We see only the immediate cause of the pain, and so, we're unable to see Him in the midst of it.  We may know that, as we read in Jeremiah, that He is the Potter and we are the clay, but we expect Him to only shape us through gentle, easy ways.  As James Robison put it, "We say to Him 'Squeeze easy,' and He says to us, 'Stay soft!.' " 
    I've heard it said that "God's 'good' is being conformed into the image of Christ."  Christ's road was the one of pain and suffering, but we in the west would rarely consider that a "good road" for us.  Sometime ago I wrote two statements down in my notes.  I have no name beside them, so I do not remember if they are mine, or another's, so I take no credit for the power I believe they hold.  The first is that we must follow Him in life, even if this is not the life we wanted, even when the following leads through pain and sorrow.  The second is, that it is harder to waste pain, than to walk through it with Him.  I think these are truths that the sister on New Year's Eve had discovered.  Have you and I?  Will we?  Will our heart's desire, like hers, be "Whatever it takes to come more deeply into your life, Lord lead me on."  Yes, Lord, lead us on.

Blessings,
Pastor O

 

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