Meeting God in the dark places.
Posted by appolus on January 4, 2013
God’s love for us is empowered when it clashes with the darkest parts of who we are. Like a circle these meet and one is overpowered by the other. Prior to the new birth, when the sinner realizes who he is and also realizes that God loves him while he is yet in his sin, he is transformed. Yet deeper works are to follow. This meeting is no one time meeting. God searches us out and plumbs the depths of who we are and in finding Him there, at those depths, in that fire, in that darkness then we plumb the depths of His actual love. Can I say this process will ever end? No, I cannot say that. I do know that the Apostle Paul ” learned to be content,’ in whatever situation he found himself. What does it take to reach this place? Well, as I look at the life of Paul, it takes a life that most are not willing to live, only the few.
How many times was he scourged? How many times lost in the sea. How many times rejected, how many times hungry? How many times was the Lord rejected? How many times was He ridiculed and scorned? How grievous the journey knowing the end? How savage the battle in the garden? How savage the treatment at the hands of Romans? How cruel the desertion of all of his friends, including his best and dearest? How indescribable the drinking of the cup? Yet even in the midst of one of the cruelest deaths known to man, He ministers, even from the cross. How deep the love that cries ” forgive them Father?” How dead to the flesh a man must be to cry ” hold not this charge against them.” How transformed must the flesh be that has a vision in the depths of being stoned by his countrymen? And brother Stephen was taken home loving those who bore the stones and he that watched the coats of those who stoned him. I know nothing of these depths brothers and sisters.
Would I respond in kind in the same situation? I pray that I would, I pray that every trial and tribulation I now suffer is a mile run by one who trains for a marathon. Can I see my trials as blessings? Can I walk counter to modern Christendom and count my blessings as I count my trials? Could I sing ” Count my trials name them one by one, count my trials see what God has done, count my trials, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done” This is the deeper life brothers and sisters. This is the counter-culture. This is the way of the remnant. This is the narrow path. This is counter to the way of modern Christianity. Shall we look to stay on this path? Shall we arrive at such a place as to rejoice in our sufferings? How can a man rejoice in his sufferings? Well, a man cannot, only a saint empowered by the Holy Spirit can. “And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.”(Act 5:40-41) There is much power in their obedience and rejoicing.
There is no key or magic wand or instructions on how to rejoice in the depths of suffering. There is only encounter, there is only desire, there is only that thirst spoken of by David when he spoke of the deer that panteth after the waterbrooks. Make no mistake brothers and sisters, this place, this walk of the saints, this place of peace that surpasses all understanding in born out of fire. We have to encounter the Lord Jesus in the depths of the fiery furnace. We have to encounter Him when He reveals to us by His loving Spirit exactly who we are. Is there another way? No. Its the narrow path, it’s the taking up of the cross, it’s the decision made in the garden of Gethsemane and even that is not it, there is still the death, even the death of the cross. Many men will die for the cause, how many are willing to die for the cross?
I ask all these questions because I believe we are approaching a time soon when if you have not asked yourself these questions, if you have not examined your faith, if you have not examined your walk then all of a sudden you may find yourself taken unawares. One must beware when he stands lest he fall. 2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? This call from Paul has never been more appropriate in our times. It is something that we all must do. We are not asked whether we are believers, we are asked whether we are in the faith. Listen to what Matthew Henry says about this passage………..
What the apostle here says of the duty of the Corinthians to examine themselves, etc., with the particular view already mentioned, is applicable to the great duty of all who call themselves Christians, to examine themselves concerning their spiritual state. We should examine whether we be in the faith, because it is a matter in which we may be easily deceived, and wherein a deceit is highly dangerous: we are therefore concerned to prove our own selves, to put the question to our own souls, whether Christ be in us, or not; and Christ is in us, except we be reprobates: so that either we are true Christians or we are great cheats; and what a reproachful thing is it for a man not to know himself, not to know his own mind!
Here is the clue and the high watermark of every Disciple of the Lord Jesus, let us measure ourselves against this standard and strive towards it with all of our lives…….”But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, Paul was a man who encountered Jesus. Knocked off his horse, baptized in the Holy Spirit, walked through trial and tribulation and came out the other side counting all things as rubbish as long as he was found in Him, that he may know Him and the power of resurrection living. His highest ambition and the driving force of his life was not to write the two-thirds of the NT Scriptures, which he did. It was not to establish churches and disciples everywhere and he did, it was not to magnify his own ministry which he did not. It was not to enrich himself, he died with nothing for the cause of Christ. He did all that he did for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. He did it all because of his intimacy with the Lord. If we would seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness in our lives, then we would enrich our lives here and in the world to come. Not with gold and silver, but with the treasures that come from an intimate relationship with Jesus, when Jesus is the grand obsession of our lives.
Over one thousand years before the Apostle Paul walked the earth, King David knew what it meant to encounter the Lord in the very darkness of his own soul and find overcoming victory there in the agony of discovering his own sinful ways. It was the prophet that pointed this out to David, that opened up his heart and showed him who he really was. This work is now the Lord’s through His Holy Spirit. Men need desperately to encounter the Lord in this depth and then cry out, as David did so long ago….. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways; and sinners shall be converted to You.