Before I got sick last January, the stress of everyday life was really starting to have its way with me.
Pictures that were taken of me within a few days of my hospitalization really revealed how awful I looked: My face was drawn, if I smiled my teeth were barely visible, my eyes weary with large bags underneath them. “Rode hard and hung up wet”, one might say.
These were the outward signs of overwork, lack of sleep, comfort-food consuming bodily abuse that I was convinced was the ministry in my work, which the Lord would reward me for at some point in the future.
More foolishly than that, I wrote it off as easily managed by the modern conveniences of prescribed medications and the overriding personal need to believe that God would reward me on the basis of my efforts alone on my behalf, and not on my dedication to His will for my life and the leadership of my family, which is where His unchanging light happens to be all the time.
After all, we were created to glorify Him and not serve ourselves first, were we not? The great truth we often exchange for a lie is that we are glorifying Him when we are really just glorifying ourselves with wealth, possessions, power, and comforts of all kinds. No, I’m not a socialist or anything like that. Things have a place in our lives and God wants us to be comfortable and happy. But He wants that no matter where we happen to be on the socioeconomic ladder.
We are called to be victorious and fruitful in works that God prepared for us to do before the foundation of the world. Paul said so in Ephesians 2:10. This means that He knew what He planned to do with our souls before we had bodies to hold them! Remember that there are three things that are eternal: God, His Word, and the souls of men. By the way, you are free to not believe this and be wrong, if you like. Please show evidence to the contrary, however.
Back to January. In my sickened, diabetic, dehydrated, flu-ridden state I was fully convinced that Abba had a great reward for me working through this despite these conditions. I wasn’t counting on an immediate answer to my longstanding prayer to be more surrendered to His will for my life, believing the surrender part to be more of a long term goal and not something He would use to get my attention right away. After all, He provided me with honorable work, goals and prospects to achieve in this work, a comfortable income and home, and the friendship and respect of my coworkers (I still think so), and the love of my family and friends, whom I love in return unreservedly. This turned out to be a grotesque misinterpretation of the reality that God wants all of us to hold deeply in our hearts and that is to draw close to Him in every way, and He will draw close to us in every way, also. Right now, as I rest in Him, I call it decompression.
This is why He sent His only Son, Jesus. He was the model for all mankind after Him, God in the flesh. He had to be human, so He could suffer and overcome the same temptations that we face and so often do not overcome. One of these things happens to be a great weakness of mine. The evening of January 3, 2011 went a long way toward shifting my paradigms.
One among many temptations to which I have succumbed but one which Jesus overcame in the wilderness is idolatry. Probably covetousness, too, since I wanted more and more of what the world could offer but for which I could thank God later. If that sounds hypocritical, you have called it correctly! My job and the comforts of my income had overtaken any wisdom I had and overcome my relationship to me loving Father.
The picture I have of God’s will for my life is a brightly focused beam of light in a pitch dark room. When I am in His will for my life, as I am now, I am at rest, healthy, not worried or ungrateful. I know that He has provided me and my family every good thing according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus as He promises all His children in Philippians 4:19. I am in His light.
When I am not functioning in His will, I am in the pitch darkness outside His light and the opposite, with all of the commensurate temptations and sins into which I have so often fallen, take effect again. There is a lot more darkness than light out there, so once we are in the light, we should work diligently to stay there. Interestingly enough, the opposite of diligence in Greek, is to drift.
We are exhorted by James in his letter to the new Christians of his time to prove ourselves doers of the word and not just hearers, thus deluding ourselves. He says in James 1:25 that the one who looks intently at the perfect law, and abides by it will be blessed in ALL they do.
Sounds like a contract to me. I’m glad I signed up! If you have not, you should get in on it. This truth will set you free.
Bless you all mightily!!