Whilst travelling in the U.S. this year, a brother walked into a store to browse whilst waiting to meet up with friends. He was drawn into conversation with the store owner, who politely enquired of his reason for visiting his country. The brother simply replied that he was travelling with friends, declaring and sharing the Gospel. The store owner’s manner was very gracious and sincere, but he earnestly responded, “Oh! We don’t need any more of that here, it’s cultish!”
Seeking to discern where the store owner was coming from, and in need of heavenly wisdom to continue, our friend responded, “With all due respect, I believe there has been such a history of hypocrisy and gross misrepresentation of what true Christianity really is, currently by some T.V. evangelists with hype and celebrity status, also by many Christians who say so much but whose lives do not live up to their words. We believe our lives should DEMONSTRATE what we believe and declare.”
Someone once said, “Preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words!” A demonstration speaks far louder than any eloquent declaration. It is reality.
The store owner became thoughtful, then came into agreement with the former declaration as though the clouds had been swept away from his sky and the conversation became light hearted once again.
Folks do not want religion and hypocrisy. The life God has given us in His Son, Jesus Christ, we either “live it,” or, we do not have a voice! We will never convince people with just words, but with lives lived to the glory of God – “…living epistles, known and read of men.” (2Corinthians 3:2)
In Hebrews 6:1 Paul exhorts us, “……..let us go on to perfection.” He is speaking of maturity as we become mature sons/daughters of God. As we walk this out in our daily lives, let us consider Jesus in Hebrews 5:8, “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” The word “suffered” used here, in Old English means “yielded to” or “allowed” – a surrendering of one’s own will.
Jesus learnt obedience whilst here on earth, yielding to his parents. Luke 2:41-52 records the account of Jesus, twelve years of age, being left behind by his parents accidentally in Jerusalem. He astonished the doctors and teachers of the law in the temple with His understanding and answers to questions, but He had to return with His parents, yielding to them as He learnt obedience in every day family life, until His appointed time. As He learnt to yield, so must we.
However, there is another type of suffering as we understand the meaning of the word, an emotional suffering that never gets healed because of a resistance to working it through with God. I continue to suffer emotional pain when I resist yielding and surrendering to God.
There have been many anointed songs referring to the dark times in our lives. For example, the words in The Weaver’s Song declare:
“The dark threads are as needful as the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.”
The song “The Anchor Holds” declares:
“The ship is battered, the sails are torn,
But the Anchor holds (referring to Jesus)
In the time of the storm.”
Wonderful words – we can identify with the emotional suffering in these songs. We all have a testimony of how God held us in these times by His love, grace and abundant mercy…..but let not these dark times become a lifestyle and our portion forever because we resist God leading us out. God seeks to bring us through them. As we yield to Him IN the situation, surrendering to Him, seeking His face, He works in our yielding to Him, producing his joy and peace in the “trial of our faith,” and finally bringing an end to the emotional suffering and pain with redemption healing.
God turns the mess of our lives into His message.
There are times when we suffer emotional pain because of the dark situations we experience, but when we seek God IN that place, He brings us through. We can experience the joy and peace of God IN the situation, independent of our circumstances because joy and peace are the hallmarks of His Presence.
Hosea 2:13-14 declares the Valley of Achor (valley of death), becomes a door of hope. The dark experience is a means to finding the door of hope that God seeks to usher us through, bringing joy and peace and a new day to be lived for His glory!