April 30th, 2017
Basically, I wanted to go to bed early. However, before I checked the internet as I sometimes do and there I read in the news that someone had died today. Not knowing who this man would be, I felt nudged to read more about him. Wikipedia told me that he was a Swiss man who passed away at the age of only forty years in the exercise of his favorite occupation which had been rock climbing and mountaineering. As I checked out his website, I clicked on some beautiful pictures I really marveled at. Not completely sure which photo I liked the most, I eventually chose one of them for my blog and began to write on here. Only a few minutes later I returned to this man’s website in order to insert this and, perhaps, another picture into my blog article, as I wondered again. Good pictures, yes. Even very good pictures, taken by a professional, no doubt about this. But where was this very first amazement I had felt? This awe and wonder, this joy about I-do-not-know-what-it-is as John of the Cross once called it (am paraphrasing him here). They were completely gone! I was no longer interested in these pictures that seemed to be normal, even ‘dead’ to me now and I decided to delete what I had just written, all at once. Well, God’s leading, you know, is truly a strange thing at times…
May 1st, 2017
Now, some time after midnight as I just shared a cold, roasted chicken thigh with Lily the cat, I do not know yet what God might have had in mind, but I sense I should keep writing. About life and death, perhaps? These pictures of high mountains where you could see Ueli Steck climbing (see http://www.uelisteck.ch/de/) were alive to me although he had died, but ONLY in these moments as GOD made them alive to me. Not before, since I saw similar pictures in the past without any comparable feelings. And I felt no life in them afterwards, either. As simple as it might sound, God is the Life that He shares with anyone He wills, at any time, but always in His time. Believe it or not, I just experienced the same thing while checking the Bible. I was thrilled to find 1 Cor 15:45 which tells us that “[t]he first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (ESV). Reading through the following verses, I saw they somehow led to the gist of it all which consists of these words,
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:54-55 ESV)
Jesus Christ has become a life-giving spirit in order to raise the dead. Not only those who die physically, even those who have died to their old nature’s shackles. After I had jotted down the above-mentioned Scriptures, I could not relate to them anymore, not at all. That is bizarre, isn’t it…? 🙄
May 27th, 2017
Life and death, still. Rather, I have experienced months where I have found myself spiritually dead. Months during which my old nature could not find anything to cling to, nothing to get any life or joy out of it, neither out of hobbies, things, experiences, nor out of encounters and talks with people, NOT A THING provided any life. Nonetheless, just now I found an interesting description about such a period by T. Austin Sparks.
Three Wilderness Features
There are three things in this wilderness period:
- A barren place of dependence. This is a tremendous factor in coming into our inheritance in Christ; for a wilderness is a wilderness, a dry barren place, where you cannot see anything, or feel anything; where if your only resources were in your senses you are at an utter end. It is a barren place of utter dependence upon God, and there is nothing else to depend upon. This is an essential feature in order to possess, a vital factor for obtaining the inheritance. How often God says to His people, “I am your inheritance” (Num. 18:20). “The Lord is my portion” (Ps. 119:57). “The Almighty will be thy treasure, and precious silver unto thee” (Job 22:24,25 A.R.V.).
In Christ you have all that, “For all things are yours… the world, life and death, or things present or things to come, all are yours and ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor. 3:25).
He is shutting you up to exclusion where in that barren place He can be your life and you have to depend on Him for everything; thus, you come into your inheritance which is – HIMSELF. It is an utter separation from all and everything unto God.
- The wilderness is a bounded place of separation, within the limits of God’s appointment, where you are separated unto God. There must not be the slightest overlapping with Egypt, “not a hoof to be left behind” and there had to be “three days’ journey into the wilderness” (Ex. 8:27). The separation is unto the degree of Divine completeness, it is being wholly separated unto God. God has come in between and defined the limits to our life and what it means to be separated unto God.
- The wilderness is a hedged place of imprisonment to God, there is no getting out of it, you are imprisoned, given wholly to God and for Him, and know Him as your only object.
God shut Israel into the wilderness and there was no way out; Pharaoh saw that, see what he says about it: “Pharaoh will say… they are entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut them in” (Ex. 8:27).
Yes, the devil knows all about it! He says, “the wilderness shut them in” – but, God shut them in. What a place of imprisonment when you have come out wholly for the Lord! Yes, that is the way, the Lord has imprisoned you, and you cannot run away. There are sometimes fiery trials, and often Satan says, quit, quit, and you know you cannot. The flesh would love to be released and find a way out, but you know you have got to go through, and He is holding you. If He had not held you, where would you have been? We would kick and run away, only He holds, and will hold until He has done the work; and you will say, “the Lord did it”; you are hedged by a Divine compulsion.
The Lord sovereignly held the children of Israel in the wilderness, while the testing and training was going on, preparing for the inheritance. And He is holding you while He does the same, you are the prisoner of the Lord, hedged in unto His Divine completeness; the Lord is sovereignly holding and getting us through, the credit is not ours, but His, it is all Grace.
The duration of the wilderness depends upon our maturity in our knowledge of the Lord, until HE becomes and IS our “all in all,” He – HIMSELF. When He has His place, we come into our large place, for our coming into a large place is on the ground of our personally knowing in a very real way the Lord – HIMSELF as our all; and conquest depends upon this knowledge of the Lord.
All images © 2017 Susanne Schuberth.