Friday, April 04, 2008

Thoughts...

I haven't posted a thoughtful post in ages because I've been deeply struggling with some stuff spiritually. The Lord is working through stuff with me, as He is ever faithful to do...

In the little book The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence says at one point that God will "not allow such a person {one who is surrendering to God} to suffer through trials for very long, but will give him a way of escape that he might endure." Several weeks ago when I read this, it truly raise my hackles. We had just been discussing with some friends, in a completely different context, the fact that, when you look at the Bible, it is obvious that God is not in the habit of keeping His people from trials, or of making things "easy." Trials are how we are grown.

James 1.2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.


One ray that helped illuminate these seemingly contradictory ideas is Perspective. God's view of "very long" and my view of "very long" are worlds apart. He sees from outside time, and this space of time that is my life is a speck on the time line. From here in the midst of my speck, 11 years is a "very long" time. But in light of eternity, in light of His eternal plan for me and those around me, it is as a day...

The ray of Perspective also applies to the depth of our trials and their bearable-ness. What is crushing to me in my own strength (or lack thereof!) is an easy yoke to Him. And again, in light of eternity, everything changes...

Romans 8.16-18 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

The chapel memory verse for this week is from Matthew 26.29, where Christ says, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."

Any "cup" that I have to drink could not compare to the sacrifice that Christ made for me when He took my sins upon Himself and paid the price for my sin at Calvary. I wouldn't even begin to compare the struggles I encounter with what He has bore for me. At the same time, I have so much to learn from Christ's response to His upcoming trial.

I think Christ's fervent prayer here indicates that it really is okay for us to ask for deliverance from our trials. The key is remembering that last phrase, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Not just remembering it, but having a true heart's surrender to His will.

I have this nasty habit of trying to contemplate the drinking of every "cup" that lies in wait for me over the next forty years. But I don't yet have grace to deal with tomorrow. He gives grace to help in time of need. So when His will is for me to drink a bitter cup, it's vital that I accept His grace in that time of need, drink the cup, grow and learn, let Him use it to make me more like Christ, and keep on running the race that is set before me. And trust that His grace will always be there for me when I call.

Elizabeth Elliot wrote, "I had been praying for something I wanted very badly. It seemed a good thing to have, a thing that would make life even more pleasant than it is, and would not in any way hinder my work. God did not give it to me. Why? I do not know all of his reasons, of course. The God who orchestrates the universe has a good many things to consider that have not occurred to me, and it is well that I leave them to Him. But one thing I do understand: He offers me holiness at the price of relinquishing my own will.

Take my will and make it Thine, it shall be no longer mine.

1 comment:

Wayne and Genene said...

Laurel, Just after I read this, I also read one of my perpetual calendars which contained this:

"Flowers never emit so sweet and strong a fragrance as before a storm. Beauteous soul! When a storm approaches, be as fragrant as a sweet-smelling flower."
Jean Paul Richter

Your post reminded me....
When we "endure", whether it be trials or "no" to our petitions to our lovings Father I think He enjoys just such a fragrance; evidence that we are leaning on Him to see us through the storm.

Your mama, who loves you dearly!!