Archive for April 7, 2012

Suffering is your Opportunity to Show Your Quality (Part 12)

To Die is Gain

Chapter 3 of Job is a relentless pleading for death. An intense desire to be released from life as it is currently being experienced by Job. To wit:

“After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.  And Job spake, and said,  Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.  Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.  Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.  As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months.” Job 3:1-6. I stopped copying at verse 6 but Job goes on for some time. These are the words of a man who is at the point of surrender and wants to die.

In the Dark Night of the Soul, the Valley of the Shadow of Death, the Wilderness, the Belly of the Whale, the Belly of the Earth, the Unrighteous Prison (Joeseph), the Flight of the Godly (David with Saul and Absalom, Elijah with Jezebel, and many others), we are faced with a very real and present suffering and darkness, an extreme temptation that presses us to the extinction of our human hope. We are forced past the end of our rope into the great nothingness of faith. We no longer have anything to hold onto, no longer see a meaningful future. We are out of our resources, plans, ideas and have exhausted all our efforts and strength. Then and only then are we willing to die to our Self, to hear our Father and submit to His will. Face it, we are stubborn when it comes to dying. We don’t want to do it.

To be certain it takes a lot for us to give up on ourSelves, to admit defeat and surrender. We have a demonic and determined pride of life that will not let go and trust Him. Just think of how much positive self-talk, marketing hype, and psycho babble has as it’s purpose to arouse, energize, fuel and perpetuate the inner man to “go for the gusto”, “never give up”, “get ‘er done”, and “just do it”. This world system is built on the strength, value and determined effort of man. Determined to do what?, you might ask. Determined to prove to others and especially yourSelf that you don’t need anybody, rely on anybody or submit to anybody. Not others, not God (although this is seldom realized or done consciously).

Oh, we pay lip service to need and love for others and God, but just under the surface is this determination to claim and proclaim, “I did it my way” and “I did it all by mySelf”. We love the freedom and power of independence and control, that is a big part of why money (the preferred currency of this world system) is so zealously sought and fought for. This is the demon that must be made to die – self-assurance birthed from it’s parents of self-sufficiency and self-protection. This is the orphan spirit that I have often referred to. I am all alone and have to take care of everything myself and can’t trust anybody to do it for me.

This death – the death to Self – is death to my claim to my right to mySelf, that nobody can tell me what to do. I am large and in charge. I run the Me Show and you can buy tickets but I pick the program and have the controls for what I will and won’t do. Now you would think that Job was none of these, but with stealth-like subtlety this monster lurks in the dark corners of your soul, not wanting to be known, seen, heard or exposed. It is there in each of us. If you were ever born of the flesh and have not had the beast unmasked and slain, and then slain again and again, he is there all right. He just sleeps. He has no reason to awake if you are operating in the flesh as a natural man. Only begin to walk in the the Spirit and he will come out of his hibernating slumber and you will see him in the full sunshine of the new season.

He only sleeps when he is happy and he his happy most of the time due to the rarity of anyone or anything poking him and prodding him to waken.

Job’s sleeping monster was awakened. How is that? Job had his soul and his will wrapped up in a theology regarding a God that he could control by strings. Job held the belief that if he was good and devout, if he loved God and sought to please Him, that God would (read: had to) act according to his theology, that being that God would reward him and his life would be happy and fulfilling. Note: Job’s friends held these same beliefs (as I once did) and they were not willing to change their theology to hear about and believe in a God that did not fit the image they had fashioned of Him. The ensuing chapters are a ringside seat to the bouts of Truth with error. At some point as the wrestling continues you will finally find your experience pinning your theology to the mat and you will have to surrender that belief in death to a part of you, yourSelf.

Listen again to Job as he is pinned to the mat, held in a tight place with no room or place of escape: “Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?” v.23. This is not unlike the wrestling match of Jacob with God where he ended up with a leg out of socket, a damaged walk. Oh, he walked with God but not without humiliation and shame, not without a death to Self.

We all fear death, and more than anything we fear death to Self, of giving up on our hopes, plans, agenda and will. Job feared these things as well. Now death has come to his door – not physical, but soulish – a death to Self and his own will. “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” v25. Job is in the ring and we have a ringside seat.

As you celebrate this Resurrection Day remember. There is no resurrection without there being a death first. My favorite verse is about this same resurrection taking place in me: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.

To die is gain.

Suffering is your opportunity to show your quality.

Quote Title Quotation Source
Living Waters Run Deep Continuously renewed immediacy, not receding memory of the Divine Touch, lies at the base of religious living. Let us explore together the secret of a deeper devotion, a more subterranean sanctuary of the soul, where the Light Within never fades, but Burns, a perpetual Flame; where the wells of living water of divine revelation rise up continuously, day by day and hour by hour, steady and transfiguring. Thomas Kelly – Becoming a Holy Sanctuary of Adoration, circa 1930; excerpted from Devotional Classics by Foster and Smith © 2005
Repenting of Me, Turning to Him This is how a person should prepare himself for true prayer. This is what St. Peter calls being of one spirit that the heart and mind are attached completely to God alone, and that a person have the focus of his ground and spirit completely turned to God as present, and have a tender, benevolent attachment to God.

Children, everything we have, after all, we have from God. And how could it ever be otherwise that we offer back completely everything that we have ever received from him with our interior focus and spirit, undivided and simple, turned toward him. And then one should engage all one s faculties, interior and exterior, and should carry them up entirely into God.

John Tauler – Sermon 39, circa 1340; excerpted from The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism by Bernard McGuinn copyright 2006 by Random House, Inc.
Progress – A Beggining, A Journey, A Destination This is why Solomon says that he has described the sacred teaching in a threefold way because of its threefold spiritual understanding, namely, the moral, the allegorical, and the anagogical. This triple understanding corresponds to the triple hierarchical activity, that is, purgation, illumination, and perfection. Purgation leads to peace, illumination to truth, perfection to charity. When these three have been obtained in perfection, the soul is made blessed, and according to the manner in which it busies itself with them, the soul receives an increase in merit. The knowledge of the whole of sacred Scripture depends on knowing these three things, just as does the merit of eternal life. Therefore you should also recognize that there is a threefold way of exerting oneself in this threefold path, namely, by reading and meditating, by praying, and by contemplating. Bonaventure – The Threefold Way; excerpted from The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism by Bernard McGuinn copyright 2006 by Random House, Inc.
Keeping the Goal in Mind Remembrance of him is the well spring of virtue; forgetfulness of him, the fountain of vice. George Horne, D.D. Charles H. Spurgeon – The Treasury of David abridged by David Otis Fuller, circa 1880, © 1968 by David Otis Fuller, Published by Kregel Publications
Excusing Obedience We dare not say that our Lord s words are not true. Yet somehow or other few Christians really seem to believe them. What holds us back? What seals our lips? What keeps us from making much of prayer? Do we doubt His love? Never! He gave His life for us and to us. Do we doubt the Father s love? No. The Father himself loveth you, said Jesus when urging His disciples to pray. Do we doubt His power? Not for a moment. Hath He not said, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye… and lo, I am with you alway… ? Do we mistrust His choice for us? Not for a moment. And yet so very few of His followers consider prayer really worth while. Of course, they would deny this but actions speak louder than words. Unknown Christian – The Kneeling Christian, circa 1890, © 2007 Bidge-Logos.
The Self-Life is the Source of Your Pain I willingly apply to myself the same advice that I give to others, for I am convinced that I must seek my own peace in the same direction. Even now my soul is suffering, but I am aware that it is the life of self which causes us pain; that which is dead does not suffer. If we were really dead, and our life hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3), we would no longer struggle with those pains in spirit that now afflict us. Fenelon – Let Go, circa 1690, copyright 1973 Whitaker House
Resurrection Comes After Death Power ought to be obtained on resurrection ground. Resurrection is living beyond death. What we need is not greater power but deeper death. We must resist all natural powers. Whoever has not lost his soul life knows nothing of power. But the one who has passed through death is in possession of life. Watchman Nee – The Latent Power of the Soul, circa 1939, copyright 1972 by Christian Fellowship Publishers, Inc.
Make No Graven Image for Your Self But strangely enough, while it is easy for us when we are happy and do not need any comforting, to believe that our God is the “God of all comfort,” but as soon as we are in trouble and need it, it seems impossible to believe that there can be any comfort for us anywhere. It would almost seem as if, in our reading of the Bible, we had reversed its meaning, and made it say, not “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,” but “Blessed are they that rejoice, for they, and they only, shall be comforted.” It is very strange how often in our secret hearts we almost unconsciously alter the Bible words a little, and so make the meaning exactly opposite of what it actually is; or else we put in so many “ifs” and “buts” as to take the whole point out of what is said. Hannah Whitall Smith – The God of All Comfort, circa 1890 – 1956 Edition Moody Publishers
Are You a Light-Lover or a Dark-Lover? No man is held responsible by God for having an heredity of sin: what God holds a man responsible for is refusing to let Jesus Christ deliver him from it when he sees that that is what He came to do (see John 3:19 ). Oswald Chambers – The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers
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