church, compromise, darkness, discerning the spirits, encouragement, experience, following Jesus, freedom, God's love, hope, Jesus Christ, joy, life, light, peace, promises, spiritual power, T.A. Sparks, tithes, visions
I wonder how can we describe something we have never experienced before? 🙄 Although you might realize that this unexpected shift of perspective belongs to the most amazing experiences possible in the life of a follower of Christ, did you ever expect God to really work miracles? 🙄 As for me, I had given up on waiting for miracles. Over the years and particularly during the last one and a half years, I had more and more given up on expecting something more from God than an ordinary life full of daily struggles. Having no real breakthroughs in many areas of life, I waited on God to fulfill His promises of which I, honestly, thought I might only enjoy them after this life on earth. Quite a saddening prospect for the rest of your life, don’t you think? 🙄
Which promises am I speaking about? Well, I thought of three specific promises God gave me from December 2019 until spring 2020. The first one that hit my heart was the following Bible verse,
“The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.” (Zeph 3:15 ESV)
As it is often the case with God, He announces something a considerable time before it really happens. Unexpectedly, we get a wonderful promise from Him, and while looking forward to seeing it fulfilled (hopefully) soon, then there goes all our happiness as we find yourself sliding into another deep valley filled with trials and darkness. The second promise I found in one of T. Austin Sparks’ devotionals. It reads,
“To him who overcomes I will give the privilege of sitting down with Me on My throne, as I also have overcome and have sat down with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:21 WNT)
While reading this Scripture from the Book of Revelation above, I had just read the following part that says, “To him who overcomes I will give the privilege of sitting down with Me on My throne, …” when I was suddenly being drawn or pulled ‘elsewhere’. In addition to the vision that followed, I was somehow getting weaker at the same time. Out of the blue, I saw myself sitting to the left of Jesus on His throne. 🙄 As I was still wondering what I was doing there, I tried to finish reading the devotional, however, it did not work! I felt so weak as if someone had taken all my strength away from me (which was not really a bad feeling, though). I could only repeat this half sentence until I arrived at the comma again.
This picture of me sitting on the throne with Jesus did not leave me for days and it is still there. It was a pretty strong and vivid impression, accompanied by a deep quietness and silence in this huge space that had opened up in front of me. I recall I looked at Him at first, asking Him why I was sitting there. Although I felt His love and support, He did not answer me. So I looked down on the earth and on some people I could see from afar, pondering, “I do not really understand what I am to do here” since I rather wanted to hide behind Jesus’ back, watching Him reign and rule. I know I cannot rule and what appears to be even worse, I do not want it, either.
The third promise was, once again, a smaller part of a Scripture put in front of one of TAS’ devotionals last year. Although the whole part quoted spoke to me like the ‘throne promise’, the Scripture was taken out of a context which has been misinterpreted by many a church. The part quoted by TAS that hit me was this one,
“I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! (Malachi 3:10 NLT)”
The context, though, was something especially non-denominational churches rely upon when they want to nickel and dime their sheep to feed their own man-made sheepfolds. We read,
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” (Malachi 3:10 NLT)
Even false teachers can say good things at times. I recall someone said that those tithes, aka 10 percent of your gross income, would only be the starting point of our (monetary) ‘donations to God’. It is true that God wants to have everything from us, i.e., our whole old self life, in order to bless us abundantly regarding our spiritual life. However, it was never God’s intention to feed self-appointed hirelings with His sheep’s money. I cannot forget that another person, the Jewish scholar Ruth Lapide, shared on German TV that tithes in the Jewish system had to be provided for widows and orphans. That made much more sense to me, indeed.
Returning to my first paragraph of this article, I can say that after an increasingly dark period of time, starting with my Covid-19 infection on February 1st, 2020, our Lord has really started to fulfill His promises. Slowly, but continually, Jesus began on June 2nd this year to pull me out of my deep darkness with this simple question,
“Do you believe that I AM THE LIFE?” (1)
From that evening on several dead spots in my life and soul got revealed and God set me free soon afterwards. Continually, His light and life have been flowing into my spirit and soul, as I would verbalize it a bit clumsily. Although I make mistakes daily, I sense more freedom, joy, and peace and, most of all, a power and strength to eagerly follow His Spirit’s guidance. I do not really feel comfortable to point to my own experiences here, but I want to encourage you to hold on when your current circumstances are exceedingly difficult right now. It seems to me that Jesus Christ overtakes our whole life finally when we are really done, having come at our wits’ end in all areas of life. But then, the miracles can begin…
Even though my circumstances have not changed yet, God gave me a new perspective on all things, a view that rather looks from above on all earthly things that are transient. It seems to me – and that is why I chose the title – that Jesus Christ has begun to weaken my soul life by strengthening my spiritual life since having raised this question above. Today I somehow sense a deepening gap between my soul which has been bound by earthly concerns and my reactions on these and my spirit that found its rest in His Spirit. This condition provides a security and a protection I always longed for, yet I neither found it anywhere nor with anyone. Just now I was reminded of this Scripture where the apostle John wrote,
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn 1:4-5 ESV)
It seems to me that divine light and divine life truly belong together. We cannot walk in darkness and simultaneously enjoy the fruit that merely grows in the light ‘of the day’. Therefore, our God who loves us changes our hearts, pulls us closer to Himself and, eventually, He sets us free from all our soulish baggage.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!” (Jn 8:36 ESV – emphasis added)
Oh my God, I am all in tears now… Thaaat was so touching… Sigh… There’s a reason for that because at the same moment when I pasted this Scripture from John, I heard a song from a neighbor’s radio that reached my ears through the open door of the balcony. It has been a cloudy and windy day today. And it was exactly this wind that brought along the end of a song by Whitney Houston. I heard her voice almost shouting, “Then in that one moment of time…..I will be…. I will be….. I will be free!” What an amazing confirmation from God!! 🙂
After all, I offer you subsequently an excerpt from one of T. Austin Sparks’ articles of which I posted a longer part in an older article of mine already. Here TAS gives us an explanation why we struggle so much until we really want to follow the Lord more than anyone else.
“If our lives are powerless it may be due to this lack somewhere, somehow, of this utterness for God, this separation unto God, of some kind of compromise somehow, somewhere, with the prince of this world who’s robbing us of our spiritual power and vitality on his own ground. The secret of power is holiness; whatever you forget, remember that!
“The secret of a testimony that counts is a holy life. It is not our teaching, our truth, our practice, religious ordinances and so on, our forms; it is nothing of that. In the first place our real testimony is the testimony of a holy life. It counts far more than all our words, it really does. And remember, this being true, this is the secret of divine support. The Lord will commit Himself to His own ground: holiness. The Lord will stand by those who stand for Him in His nature. The Lord will look after such. And whatever we may have in this life, in this world, we may have a lot but mark you, if we haven’t got the Lord with us at last, it’s no gain. It’s no gain, it’s a terrible loss. Israel had the ordinances and the oracles and the tradition and all that; a mighty lot that they had, but at last they lost the kingdom. They lost the kingdom; it was no gain was it?”(2)
All images © Susanne Schuberth 2021