Yesterday, we talked about Christ in me, the hope of glory. And Today, I want to make it personal.
We went to church Sunday at the Acreage Church, and our missionary from Zambia, Pastor Nelms nephew spoke. It was just what I needed to hear.
He spoke about the Gospel, and how it should change everything; every aspect of our lives. For every aspect of our lives are tainted with sin and hopeless without Christ. We in our own strength are unregenerate. But the restorative power of the gospel changes everything. The Gospel is a process in which Christ restores what the enemy has stolen: relationship with him. It is both a once forever change and a lifetime process, at the same time. And he said something that really got my attention. He said, "You are the hope of the world. You are uniquely qualified to be and to bring the hope that the world so desperately needs, even thou they dont even know that they need it.
That got me to thinking about something that God has been doing in me.
Most of you know the pain in my life. In my heart and in my body, which I think is a result of the pain in my heart. But God has been schooling me in this classroom of pain. And just as the emotional pain has an impact on my physical body and is causing physical pain, beyond what I could have ever imagined, these things that take place on a physical plane have great bearing in the spiritual realm. And particularly on my spiritual life. A Process. So here's my synopsis. I wrote this to a friend today who is going through a difficult trial and is in the hospital right now. And this is for you, too my dear friends. So think about what you are going through, and read this as if I am speaking to you about it.
Your whole life up to now he has been preparing you for this moment in time. And this is the exam. You have been studying, preparing and practicing. Now is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. If you look back, I am sure you can see the moments he put in your path...the teachers, the Bible studies, everything to prepare you to be here right now. I love how he does that. And even if you cant think of specifics, He has.
I was just thinking today about pain. My heart is so broken right now, and has been constantly being crushed by our second daughter. She is living a lifestyle that is contrary to the word of God. However, God has used this pain in such incredible ways, and my heart cries out to him in gratefulness for this pain. I didnt start out that way. I was kicking and screaming and denying and wrestling with God. But now I am settled in this. But it doesnt make it easy. It is hard, and it still hurts. In fact, I told someone today that I didnt know it was possible to have your heart so crushed and still be alive and walking around. Honestly, sometimes it hurts so bad that I think I am going to be crushed under the weight of it. Thats when I know I have lost perspective and have to take a step back and see it from his point of view. We have such a short time here on this planet. And he is so loving that he lets us have such good gifts. And we expect them to last and last. We don't expect it to all be easy, but we dont expect it to be so hard, either. And that we forget that sometimes pain can be a friend. Weird, I know. But would you have needed him so desperately without this? And as you said, you have alot to learn in trusting him. I know what you mean. So here is your opportunity. Your "exam". Not your final, probably just the mid-term. Because there is more to come, my friend. But the cool thing about this exam, is that it is an open book exam. And the teacher is there, holding your hand and walking you through it. He is standing by your side saying, "I am the Answer to the questions you didnt even know you had." And he lets us experience just exactly what will make us jump into his arms and learn exactly the lessons we need. No more, no less.
It is such a comfort to me to know that He is in control. He is able. He is God. And he loves me. He loves me. Why?? I am so unworthy to experience his grace in such a tangible way. His love so perfectly poured out for me. In the midst of a terrible pain, God has birthed such a deep love- a desperate, quiet and peaceful kind of love that I can't live without him. I cannot manage anymore without him fully present every moment in me. I realize that everything I do, every moment I spend without him is just rubbish. There are still too many of those, too. But I am learning to see him more and more and want him to be my everything. And I thank him for driving me to my knees. For choosing me to fall so desperately in love with him, and settling me deep in his peace. And isnt it worth it?
Col. 1:24-29 4 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.We have been stuck in this verse for a few times. But it is so important. And so rich and full. I rejoice in what I am suffering.....I rejoice and fill up in my flesh what I am still lacking in what Christ needs to be in me for myself, and so I can learn to love others like he does. He is carrying out in me- in my body, soul, mind and spirit right now his transformation process....that is what I think it means. And he is the reason we strenuously contend, with All HIS energy. Because when we do it in our own strength, it is just rubbish. My dear friends, God is at work. And he has chosen you for his canvas. He is crafting something beautiful. Thank him for what he is doing in you, even if you are not at the place where you can thank him for the vehicle he chose to use. And pray that you will get there. I am still praying that for myself, because I often forget his purposes and want to just get in the vehicle he chose and drive away. Away from the pain, the hurt and disappointment. But if I learn to embrace it, I can live above it, and not let it drag me down. Only then can I truly learn to have real joy in whatever life brings.
With a grateful and joyful heart,Leslie