circumcision of the heart, darkness, dying to self, experience, Fellowship of His Sufferings, following Jesus, God's love, joy, Morning Star, pain, Sickness, suffering, T.A. Sparks, the dark night of the soul, the mind of Christ
This will be a rather short blog post since I am not doing that well at the moment. Before sharing with you what I have learned lately, inspired by an exchange with a sister, I offer you two quotes from Francis of Sales who said,
“The indifferent heart is like a ball of wax in God’s hands, ready to accept all the impressions of his eternal good pleasure. It does not place its love in the things God wills, but in the will of God who wills them.”
“A truly loving heart loves God’s good pleasure, not only in consolations, but also in afflictions….”
Easy to get there? No. It is simply impossible! However, there is a chance to reach this goal after countless painful trials, afflictions, and suffering as we finally despair of our own self and realize that we never cared a pap for God and His will for us. Just for clarification, I am not yet there! What I have done recently was that I was complaining continually before God, lamenting that He seemingly did not care about me. Sometimes you have one trial, sometimes two trials at the same time, but God seemed to be pleased to increase the number of my afflictions almost every day. Although I would remember having had good experiences with God in the past as well, I was not sure whether God’s love was still real for me, having been cut off from His presence for quite some time now. I began to ask myself, “Does He not care when I get more and more sicknesses like toothaches for nine months (six teeth hurting at times simultaneously), allergic asthma and hay fever, knee tendons, feet, and muscles hurting, virus infections of any kinds…?” Having prayed for deliverance and release, having visited different specialists, too, and then getting sicker and sicker did not make much sense to me. Dear reader, this is only the physical part of my trials since I do not want to share these other trials publicly; they are private and I do not want those who are concerned to read this and feel exposed in any way.
From many of my own experiences (like bipolar depression and dark night of the soul) I know that we need to go through countless dark valleys of the shadow of death until the Morning Star truly rises in our hearts. Of course, my Old Adam nature always wants to be delivered as fast as possible! But God Whose ways are not ours let me I rarely see quick deliverance, quite the contrary! It seems to me TODAY that we learn patience when we wait and wait….. and wait on Him until His perfect timing. My latest experiences remind me of a devotional from T. Austin Sparks where he said the following.
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame. (Hebrews 12:2)
The passion of the Cross is the way of our release, and if you consider your own spiritual experience, those of you who have any experience of a walk with God, you know quite well that it has been through times of deep and acute suffering that you have found fresh releases; fresh releases in your spiritual life. Is it not true? Yes, we pass into a time of excruciating spiritual and soul suffering. We do not know what the Lord is doing, what He means by this, what He is after, but we know the features of our experience and know what it is that we are suffering, and it goes on. We, of course, ask the Lord to stop it, to bring it to a quick end, to deliver us from it. He takes no notice of us, and it is only those people who get out the other end who say, ‘Thank God, He did not take any notice.’ In the meantime, we think He is anything but kind and good and doing the right thing, but as we get on under His hand, we begin to see and to sense that He is dealing with something. Maybe He is dealing with our pride, our independence, or our irresponsibility, for example. That is the issue that comes up, and we are faced all the time with something about ourselves that is almost devastating. We would not have believed that that was so strong in us.
Oh, of course we were always ready to believe that that is in mankind and in us as a part of mankind in a general way. Yes, we would never have resented being told that there was pride or something like that about us, but we would never have believed how deeply rooted and terribly strong that thing is until it was put to a fiery test and everything was held up, and we saw that everything in our life and work for God was held up on that point…. And we know quite well that what the Lord was after was not the pulverising of us, as we thought, the winding up of us, but to bring about enlargement, to bring about release, and release always lies along the line of the Cross, the passion. Enlargement always lies in that direction.
It appears to me also that God brings forth the mind of Christ in us when we are well acquainted with mourning, grief, and suffering as it was written about Jesus, too.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Is 53:3 ESV)
The mind of Christ always seeks God’s will, not our own. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But without Christ’s Spirit and help, we cannot achieve anything on our own which is truly spiritual (cf. Jn 15:5). Dear brothers and sisters, take care and let us beware of applying biblical principles to our natural ways of thinking and acting. Only if we wait on God to change our hearts and minds as He sees fit, we will be enabled to think and act in ways that are pleasing not only to God, but to ourselves as well since the fruit of the Spirit is PEACE and LOVE and JOY… 🙂