The evil we all need to experience for ourselves

Do any of us need to see evil? It may exist in our world, but do we really have to experience it and learn what it feels like? Do we have to confront how powerless we are before it?

I have asked myself these kind of question so many times. The inference has been Why, God? What do You think You’re doing with me? Where are You, and why do You think it’s okay to let me know suffering so well? I thought the point of walking with You was for me to experience joy? 

I don’t know all the reasons why God does what He does and allows what He allows. Suffering will always be in large part a mystery for us while we’re on earth. But I believe once we are in heaven we will see things wholly as He sees them. We will applaud His purposes and we will appreciate the way He poured His holiness into us even while we were on earth. We will exalt the Lord our God because we will know Him and have need of nothing else.

I pray that knowing what is ahead of us will affect us today. I pray that hope might be so firmly implanted in us that we might live like there is a reality that goes far deeper than suffering. As we long for the redemption of our bodies, may we learn to love the Redeemer of them all the more!

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So much more than “I’m sorry, I’ll never do it again”

...and still I've got it wrong

Suffering seems a far cry from salvation. But maybe I’ve been missing the reality of the two being intertwined.

Salvation according to Christ can never come apart from repentance. We receive this — His grand accomplishment won for us — by confessing our sin and receiving His forgiveness, but we don’t stop there. This becomes the pattern of our lives. Every day from that point on, we turn ourselves over to living lives determined to bear this out in every smaller action and event in which we participate.

God has been showing me a persistent idol in my thoughts and dreams. I can either see it and quickly jump to defending myself, or I can look into the light of what He’s saying long enough to meet Him at the cornerstone of His judgment.

I must ask myself: Do I just want to clear myself of His judgment, or do I want it to change me? Do I want to be self-assured, or more subject to His precepts? Is it more important for me to be right or repentant?

You see, I’ve discovered that there is more to repentance than simply telling God “I’m sorry; I’ll try not to do it again.” He wants more than that. He wants a changed heart and a changed life.

This idol I have mentioned is something that seems so necessary to me, and worthy of my worship, that I have not naturally taken God’s point of view about it. I want God to be happy, but I want myself to be happy more.

Yet, this mode of operation does not satisfy my all-righteous, pro-relationship God. Apathy in the right direction is not obedience at all. Thus, God brought the idol up again — for the third time this week. He seemed to be waiting, hanging over my head to see what I would do.

God, I prayed, I want to repent, but You need to show me how; I don’t know what I’m doing here. You keep telling me to turn from this idol, but I don’t know all that You mean by that.

And as I began to pray, His power and deliverance (from my sin) came; He enlightened my mind as He excavated my heart.

I began where I was:

God, I repent of making ______ an idol;

and from there He moved me steadily along, calling me to name my idolatry for what it is…

I repent of worshiping (this idol) as my savior;

I repent of treating living in a condition in which you have made me aware of my need (in so many prominent ways) as a thing to be saved from;

and then the last piece of this reconciliation puzzle came into place:

I repent of not seeing You as my Savior because You haven’t gotten me “out of” my present condition.

There it was — my heart in a nutshell. Now it made sense why God had came at my idol with His holy hatchet again and again: only He knew how deep and how wide the course of my evil commitment had spread. He couldn’t just heal one area, but my whole person had to be treated as diseased.

Idolatry is a sin that goes so much deeper than we realize. It is never a matter of simply removing the offending object from our reach, but in crusifying the lusts that make it appealing.

And here lies the hang-up for most of us in fighting this God-offending quality in our hearts — what we are rebelliously leaning our whole body, mind and soul upon is good, but it’s not God. Turning away from Him in one manner is turning away from Him in every other matter. Rejecting Him in one area of our personality is a rejection born out by the entire body.

Therefore, to follow God and embrace His life indefinitely, we must not deny our propensity to be sin-filled and -directed at every level. And, if this be true, then we must also be unearthed by His truth till all of our arrogance has been quantitatively removed.

Dying to Make Room for Him

Could there be any other way to learn to love my precious Savior without suffering in His will? If I were not pinched and picked by various things that His hand controls, if I did not learn to surrender in all things for the sake of what I cannot see, would I be what He needs me to be — a soil ready for sowing, a construction site ready for the cornerstone to be set in place?

His seeds of truth and righteousness will not grow unless they may be sown way beneath the surface. The excavation He does to get to the deepest places of my heart, are painful because He digs into flesh, and removes rocks and roots that I have wrapped myself around in comfortable companionship. But, the habitat for His precious embryos of hope must be cleared and contoured in such a way that it may be settled in place and remain upright and able to grow up and out of me.

The fruits of the Spirit cannot be plucked from other trees and shrubs around us, but cultivated from tiny seeds within our own souls. And in the hope that such Life will emerge, we die so that it might be nourished and protected, it’s life being far more important than the body that holds it.

God, give me the grace to see what you’re doing in my heart. You have bid me to die and I shall live in the fullness of Your never-ending life. You are Love and I can believe nothing less of all that You do. Help me to trust You, help me to lean on You and give You my all willingly.