Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lessons Learned

I wasn't planning on making this a blog post. At least not now. But I the more I thought about it the more I thought it would be appropriate. Besides, I have not posted in about two weeks. Things have been more hectic than usual for me, so I have to pick and choose things to let go. However, that's a whole other post for another time.

Here's my thought: Isn't it strange (and neat) how you will hear the same theme over and over again? It comes from different sources at different times. For me this past couple of weeks, I have been hearing the same two themes through radio, podcast, a book I have been reading, sermons at church and Sunday School lessons. Though different, both theme go hand in hand.

The first is regarding trials or difficulties of life. The pervading theme has been how the struggles, trials or difficulties we face can be used to prepare us for leadership or other opportunities or circumstances later on. I have had a few struggles recently. For those who have followed me over the past four years, you know that I have struggled with some voice/throat issues which we have finally narrowed down the cause to being food sensitivities. Most of the time the effects can be minimized by food avoidance, but have never been fully resolved. Lately, it seems that I have been more sensitive to things that I was able to eat previously. It comes and goes. However, I have always checked to see how God might be using this to teach me something. I have always prayed for insight. Not that I think He had to have caused it, but that He can use it whether He caused it or not.  Also, not that I have always met it with a cheerful and trusting heart. I have asked "why?" on  a number of occasions.  Usually receiving what I perceive as a response of "just wait and see". That excites me sometimes and frustrates me others. But it is teaching me trust none-the-less and likely has even more to teach me when the wait is over.

The other theme I have had circulating around me is the truth of total dependence on God.  Total dependence for daily living, total dependence for salvation and total dependence for my growth as a follower of Christ (a.k.a., discipleship or sanctification). The first reminder of this came when I read the passage Romans 3:10-12 again: " As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one." The phrase I cued in on this time when I read this verse is the one that says "They have together become unprofitable..." We had nothing to offer Christ before salvation and we have nothing to offer Christ after. He offers everything. He gives us value when His life and His Spirit fills us (Ephesians 2).

When we realize our utter weakness, then we can begin to declare our dependence upon the One True God who loves us and cares for us and desires good things for us (Hebrews 11:6). A good father has his child's best interest at heart. As the child grows in the love of the father, then he or she is willing to give full trust to the father and rest fully dependent on him for wisdom, strength and protection. When the child is confident in the father's love, then the child is at peace.  That is the relationship we are to have with God the Father. He is perfect and promised to never leave or forsake those who put their trust in Him (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Here's the bottom line of what I have learned with these two repetitive lessons from the past two weeks: If I acknowledge my weakness and trust in God, fully depending on Him, then I know that He will work out whatever difficulty I face for His glory and I will reap the benefits as well. Often this is easier said than done, but then again, it breaks the Father's heart when we don't trust Him. I know my heart breaks every time my naturally anxious son doesn't trust me when I tell him that he is safe with me. We need to learn to rest in Paul's words:  "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Come on, be weak with me. Trust in the Lord. Learn from your difficulties. Keep asking questions. He will eventually reveal what you need to know: either through His Word (the Bible) or by His Spirit or in the final outcome of your circumstance(s).  When trials come, begin to live in great expectation for what great thing God is going to reveal. This doesn't mean everything will be rosy and fun. It also doesn't mean that God is the one causing everything that happens. It does mean that He can use anything that happens to teach you and to glorify Himself (Romans 8:28). 

 For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet

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