Just for clarification, having chosen this particular title, I did not want to suggest that God’s love would not provide a wide range of wonderful feelings, both for our soul and body, that are intrinsic features of an abundant life in Christ (cf. Jn 10:10). Rather, my intention was to point to the fact that our walk with God is often characterized by a lack of good feelings when we find ourselves in another trial where we suffer according to His will. We might also call our walk with Him in these times a mere walk of faith. It is in these times where we learn to trust in what we cannot see (yet) and in what we cannot understand (yet).
Ha! While writing I just had an interesting experience with God I want to share with you.
Today I read a lot of Christian stuff, wondering about what I could write myself. Whether Bible commentaries were concerned, articles by T. Austin Sparks or other blogs I had not known before, eventually, I was so bored that I said, “If I cannot write about my own experiences with You, God, I will drop writing completely.” I recall that I read something about the difference between the mind of Christ versus the mind of the natural man and the unbridgeable gap between flesh and spirit by Sparks. While reading, I would ask God to show me the difference in my mind whenever the old nature went unnoticed by me. In fact, it happened as I wrote the first paragraph above. As soon as I had mentioned ‘suffering’, I wanted to deepen that issue as I often did in the past. After writing another sentence on the long duration of suffering and more, I felt suddenly sooo sad… Since I have known from my own experience that I often write prophetically regarding my own future on my blog and in comments, I felt a big burden on my heart, presuming there was another long period of suffering right ahead of me. I recall how often I wrote about certain issues on here or elsewhere and I would not need to wait very long until God put me to the test. Indeed, I described several trials that happened to me shortly afterwards! Not that I KNEW they would happen, but they did. The funny thing that happened just now was that God interrupted my delving into the depths and duration of suffering by saying, “This is not from me.”
Immediately I saw clearly that my old nature tends to project its fears and anxieties on God and His doing in my life. Therefore, I cannot fully trust Him whenever I walk in darker places (speaking spiritually). After God had given me this seemingly small revelation, my heart leaped with joy. All of a sudden I KNEW (read had faith) that there is an abundant life with love, joy, and peace in circumstances that might look pretty ‘dark’ from the outside when we are attacked by Satan, be that through sicknesses and chronic pain, through enmity by former friends, or even through the death of loved ones. There is a higher level of (eternal) life we can only reach by God’s grace, as always.
Returning to the headline I chose, it refers to our struggle to accept God’s will for our life. As long as we struggle, we can only try to obey Him by surrendering all that we are and all that we are not yet and ask Him to guide us in all, even adverse, circumstances. With God’s help we will see that where there is real agape love, there is always the fruit of the Spirit, too, just as it is written,
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Gal 5:22-23 ESV)
If we obey God by surrendering our thoughts, feelings, and self-will to Him, we prove that we love Him by doing so. Through the whole Bible, even in the Old Testament, we find the close connection between loving God and obeying Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn 14:15 ESV) Later the apostle John goes on to say,
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (1 Jn 5:2-4 ESV)
All this negativity of feelings, such as sudden mood changes, doubts, anger, fears, anxieties, and worries are part of our Old Adam nature which belong to this world, still. Above we read that our faith is the key prerequisite of being victorious regarding this ongoing struggle against disobedience, distrust, and discouragement. Actually, His commandments were never meant to be a burden for us! Instead, if we love God, we will be enabled to do everything He wants to see realized in our lives. However, even the love of God must be received (cf. Rom 5:5) before we can obey God out of this same love. Jesus said, “If you love me…” (present tense), “you will keep my commandments” (future tense). His love must dwell in our hearts before we really want to do His will. So, dear brothers and sisters, no hurry with trying to change ourselves, or in other words, no self-salvation projects any more. Just rest in His loving presence because it is all about Christ’s doing in our hearts and minds. Eventually, He will work through us without us even knowing about it. May God help us to get there. Amen.