being born again, experience, faith, following Jesus, God's love, grace, new life, peace, prayer, quietness of heart, rest, T.A. Sparks, the cross, The Lord's Prayer, thought life, walking by the spirit
I could have chosen another title also. But I guess the following, at first sight, might have had a slightly discouraging connotation. Nevertheless, the other title would have signified the same. I was thinking about the heading ‘Getting LIFE through the Cross.’ As you can see in the picture I posted above, there is a sort of summit cross, standing on a rock (!), out of which leaves have started to grow on all four sides which are to represent the whole world. Green leaves symbolize life as we know from Noah’s story, for instance.
When Noah was with his whole family and with all those animals still in the ark, waiting to eventually leave it again, one day the dove he had sent out to scour the earth for life returned to him. We read,
“And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.” (Gen 8:11 ESV)
This olive leaf which pointed to new natural life also symbolizes new life in the Spirit. Oil (made out of olives) has always been a biblical symbol for the Holy Spirit, just as the dove stands for the Spirit of God Who came down from heaven onto Jesus. As for me, I have always been wondering about the apostle Paul when he made the following statements,
“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:2 KJV)
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God”(1 Cor 1:18 KJV)
The Cross… the power of God…. knowing nothing but Christ crucified…? 🙄 It seems to me we need to have experienced the power of God through the cross first until we start to understand. Of course, if we have been born again by the Spirit of God, we have come to know that our sins of which we had not been aware before have been forgiven. Completely and forever. That experience has been an initial experience of the power of the Cross. The forgiveness of sins through Jesus’ crucified flesh and death serves as the ground on which we have gained access to a new life in the presence of God. However, does the power of the Cross stop there?
When a baby has come into this world, everything about this new being is cute and it’s a joy to look at the way babies begin to discover this (for them) new world created by God. Whether it is nature or human beings or animals, all things are new to them. Isn’t it just the same when we have come to know God through Jesus, our rock, and make our first steps in His kingdom? 🙂 Right at the beginning God carries us on His arms and nourishes our newly born spirit with spiritual food only He can give. There is no effort of our own needed as He is always there when we cry for Him, so to say. Yet sooner or later, there comes a time when we do not sense Him any more as we did before. Has God left us? He who promised to be with us always… where has He gone? 🙄
If the baby insisted on staying just the same while its body kept growing, we would wonder, wouldn’t we? Don’t get me wrong here, I do not speak about physical or mental disabilities which were not our choice. However, there comes a time, even for a spiritual baby, to begin to crawl and afterwards to get up and walk on its own. The spiritual child grows up when it starts to walk with God by faith, not by feelings or reasonings. While there are two faculties out of three that make up our soul which cannot reach out to God on their own (mind and emotions), the third faculty, our will, is what we need to approach God with our own spirit.
Whether we FEEL like seeking God or whether we ponder it would not make much sense to search for His presence (since He could not be found several times before, either), you and I might know that God tests our faith at times. It is always our own choice to approach Him Who is so graceful in a (maybe only short) time of prayer where we open up our hearts and let it all out. Every day. Although seeking God’s presence seems to be a small part of the cross, yet it is self-denial. We deny ourselves and all our desires to do other things which, though easier to the flesh, have nothing to do with God. Nonetheless, if we keep trying to do that which is impossible to our flesh, God will eagerly help us and pour out His Spirit on us so that we share more and more in His abundant spiritual life as well.
“But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen!
Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.
This one will say, ‘I am the Lord’s,’ another will call on the name of Jacob, and another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and name himself by the name of Israel.” Isaiah 44:1-5 ESV)
To come back to the topic of heart rest and how to eventually get there, I decided to add an excerpt by T. Austin-Sparks who in his book “Christ Our All” in chapter 8 answered the following question,
“But how do we get experimentally over our divided nature into such a oneness, such a rest, such a peace? The way is just this: as the Lord Jesus gains the upper hand in our hearts, we become more and more one with Him. As we more and more surrender to Him, all the conflict of mind, heart and will ceases. Christ’s attitude was absolute abandonment to the Father. He was holding back nothing, ready to do all His will. There was no conflict about it. His whole being was one with the Father. As we let go the self-life, letting Christ get the mastery in us, He brings to an end all the inward conflict. A heart wholly the Lord’s is a heart at rest, a heart conformed to the image of Christ. The Lord said: “Take my yoke upon you”, that is, “Be perfectly one with Me.” A yoke makes two beings into one. That is why it was forbidden in the Old Testament to use an unequal yoke, to put an ass and an ox under one yoke, for these two were entirely different beings. The yoke would tear and hurt them. But we are allowed to be under one yoke with the Lord Jesus. The yoke speaks of oneness, fellowship, being governed by one will. Thus we find rest unto our souls.” (1)
To give this blog a more personal note, too, I want to share with you that I have had to deal with more and more trials lately. Instead of trying to ‘pray those circumstances away’ as my flesh would have eagerly liked, I felt God’s grace and power enabling me to pray more often, “Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.” If faith was lacking, I felt led to beseech God to give me more faith and trust in Him. And to my own surprise, He did! Trembling with fear in the beginning of my prayers, I have realized that there was no case where God has not surprised me with the outcome of the trial concerned. Quite the contrary, sometimes God gave me the desires of my heart. And where His Divine will was opposed to my fleshly will, He set me free to let go to Him. In fact, that was exactly the opposite of what my fears had told me before. It makes me weep even now that I have started to see that GOD IS GOOD, GOD IS LIGHT and in Him there is no darkness, no negativity at all (cf. 1 Jn 1:5). That also means that
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (Js 1:17 ESV)
May God help us get to know Him as He really is.
All pictures by Susanne Schuberth 2022