There was a day once when I had God figured out. In those days, I was sure the Lord was going to do exactly what I, imagined He was supposed to do. In my ignorance, I had it all figured out. I even had this beautiful picture of kind and gentle Jesus who would never allow me too much suffering. I also started to construct in my mind’s eye how the Lord was going to give me exactly what I wanted and rightly deserved. I wonder what Jesus was thinking while I was trying to play God and dictate how He would govern this created life of His.
Was Jesus amused at my blatant stupidity, or was He merciful because my brain capacity wasn’t any more intelligent than a box of rocks. What does this God of ours think? I just can’t help but wonder what Jesus is thinking about with my endless mistakes, my absurd ideas of what He is supposed to be. Jesus, the God of heaven and the Creator of all things had some naïve man He created, telling Him what He is going to do, how He is going to do it, and that everything needs to be completed first thing in the morning.
Man, was I in for a big surprise when I gave my life to the Creator of the stars. I think my thought process was like, “Shoot I just hit the lottery. Jesus and I are best buds. I got the golden ticket now.” I can only speculate but Jesus was most likely thinking here is another rookie who has no clue what he just signed himself up for.
I think a lot of us might go to God for many reasons. I confess I was a shattered human being when I crawled into church in Kansas City that Sunday morning. I also admit I am no super saint, and what I have learned so far is that God has His own agenda. All I wanted when I went into church that day was for God to fix all of my earthly problems, and eradicate any pain from my life.
Instead, God put me closer to the flame. He was making sure I realized that He was in charge, and that He wanted a genuine disciple. Looking back it’s like God pushed me to my very limit of my ability to bear a trial and then He would turn the heat off. Then He would raise the temperature again, and each time it seemed to just get hotter and hotter. God was fulfilling my prayer of gaining strength. God was peeling back layer after layer of all of my impurities, and replacing them with strength, wisdom, and perseverance. My friend, this is the molding hand of our God in action.
It is quite mind blowing to live the journey of a Christian. Sometimes you just can’t believe you got through the last test. Scripturally, we can get a look behind the scenes of what is happening to each of us as we stand the test of a true disciple.
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face” (Job 1:9-11).
In this dialogue between our Lord and Satan we see Satan for who he really is. First he accuses God that He could have no worshippers unless He bribes the people with blessing, and secondly he slanders Job’s true faith as circumstantial. These few verses really show us that Satan isn’t going to allow the test of discipleship to be an open book test.
Our test is not only for us to learn and grow in faith, but it’s to show the evil one that God does have true faithful believers who trust Him, no matter the hardship. So I guess that once I started running to Jesus, Satan was standing before the throne of God making his case against my true faith. Satan probably said, “Donnie is a phony, as soon as he realizes you are not going to fix things the way he wants, he will certainly walk away from you.”
Well if I told you the truth, I would admit I almost quit a couple of times. I swear I heard a voice just tempting me to quit, just whispering in my ear to just walk away and all the pressure would disintegrate. “Your life will be restored to joy and pleasure if you just leave Jesus alone,” the voice said. Looking back I take no credit. I mean I swear it was like something just carried me through it all. All I did was not walk away. I just picked up that Bible and kept reading, and kept praying and just holding on one more day, and then another.
God forced me through suffering to let go of this world, and look toward His kingdom. Jesus allowed the exam to prove my faith to Satan, but He also used the anguish to get me to have an eternal perspective. When I was in longsuffering I started to change my prayers, I started to change my perspective. I realized after a couple of years that God wasn’t going to change the circumstances even though I kept praying for Him to do so. Instead I started praying to understand His will for my existence. Instead of hoping for that idol that I kept praying for, I let go of this world and started daydreaming about what heaven must be like. God forced me to make a decision on my own sanity. Would I hold on to this world and all of its idols, or would I start looking toward His kingdom?
God didn’t create us to chase ever-changing worldly idols. He created us to experience the glory of God. These worldly idols are the worst cancellation prize any person could ever get. Jesus created the planet Jupiter while He was probably on the phone with one of the angels. Jesus was most likely making the rings of Saturn while half asleep on one of His heavenly hammocks. Jesus is an extraordinary God, who can multitask like a champ. I mean imagine what Jesus can do when He is not on the phone or taking a nap. Yea, I know what you’re thinking, Jesus wouldn’t be sleeping on a hammock─He would have one of those sleep number beds. Those are just details guys, but remember Jesus is just trying to develop you as a person in those tough hours.
Remember the trial you’re facing right now is to develop you as a person, and as a Christian. Remember as you drink tears by the bowlful and eat your bread of tears, God has a plan for it all (Psalm 80:5). Jesus wants His people to have tasted all forms of life through emotions. How does God make a person really understand and experience real joy? They experience true sorrow and true longsuffering, first. How does God expect any person to be able to have the blessing of compassion? When that person is so broken their eyes finally awaken to the suffering of others. How does Jesus expect us to ever have an eternal perspective if life is just biscuits and gravy?
Take a look at yourself for a minute. Look at what our Lord has done. How is it that you have been able to single out and discern the truth through all the garbage being spewed out these days? How is it that you’re not online right now shopping for the perfect packaged “feel good” religion to satisfy that “itching” ear? How is that you noticed freedom getting flushed down the toilet? How is that you have been able to separate this world from eternity?
It’s because King Jesus develops His people. You, my friend, are being molded and equipped to be a weapon of righteousness for the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is telling you through your circumstances that life is a huge training seminar so you can achieve the eternal perspective. I guarantee that Satan does not want you seeing that wisdom. All the enemy ever does to us is ruin our current blessings by telling us they are not good enough. Satan just keeps poking thoughts over and over in our heads telling us that life would be so much better if we were not married anymore. Life would be so much easier for the family if we could just unwind with a few cold beers again. Life would be so much easier at work if we just conform to the worldly norms again.
The enemy doesn’t want you realizing that life is just about getting to Jesus.
The enemy wants you so confused, angry and intoxicated that all you can think about is your current dilemma. The secret to making things work is to let go of this world and start running full-speed into eternity. When the enemy starts off again with his lies, recognize that he is trying to get you knocked off the path. Stay the course, and remember the last time you decided to buy that new car you couldn’t afford, but you just had to have? What happened? Yea for a couple weeks, maybe a month, that car was amazing and then the sweet flavor got chewed away like─a piece of old bubble gum, and then you woke-up to reality again.