RESPOND by Keith Giles
"God does not respond to our pain, or our tears. He responds when we seek after Him," my friend said.
At first I wanted to disagree with him. Something about that statement didn't seem right to my ears. How could that be true? How could a loving God not be moved to action by our tears or our pain? Isn't He a compassionate God? Isn't Jesus in fact Love Incarnate?
But after a few moments pause I began to realize that my friend might be on to something. One by one I recalled verses of Scripture where God rewards those who seek after Him. Jesus was always telling his disciples to "seek first the Kingdom of God" and that everything else would be added to their lives in the process.
Maybe my friend was right after all? If so, the implications were monumental for us both. My friend has been enduring one crushing blow to his life after the other for the last several years. As much as I've learned through my own period of suffering and trial, I wouldn't trade places with him for anything in the world. Yet this kernel of wisdom he was sharing with me held an upside down logic that fit directly into the message of The Kingdom that Jesus came, and died, to proclaim.
Only a few days later I was sitting in the living room of a single Mom who had just undergone brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. She had little income and an uncertain future ahead of her beyond the Holiday season and into the new year. As we sat together and prayed for her about her challenges, she said something that stunned me. She actually, in a very simple and straightforward way, remarked that she was very thankful for her tumor. I blinked at those words. Thankful? How could she be thankful for something so painful and crippling? "Because of this I am able to see how I've missed out on being a mother to all of my other sons," she said. "Now I have only one left at home with me and for the next five years I want to be able to really enjoy him and to be his Mom. This is what the tumor has taught me," she said.
When we come to God and demand our healing, our focus is not on God. It's on ourselves. Our pain becomes the focus. Our rescue is all we can think of. Because of this, our attention is not on God, or His Kingdom, it is simply on our own comfort.
In Matthew chapter six, when Jesus teaches his disciples not to worry about clothes or food, he's not saying that these things are unimportant. He knows, of course, that without these things we will perish. These are not frivolous pursuits or concerns, they are life and death necessities. Yet Jesus urges us not to worry about these things at all. Instead, he says, we are to seek first The Kingdom of God, and His Righteousness, and his promise is that all of these necessities will be given to us.
Understanding these teachings is one thing, but living them out is quite another. This is what faith is necessary for. Faith is for those who are living a dangerous life. In fact, it's only necessary for those who are on the front lines. Those who sit in comfort and avoid the real pain in life have no need for faith.
For the last six months I've been working various temporary jobs to help pay our bills here in Orange County, California. On paper I've been earning roughly half of what I was bringing home the first six months of the year. There have been seasons of uncertainty and frustration and fear.
Day after day I have gone to work doing the most brain-numbing, boring, pointless work you can imagine. I've processed thousands of return mail envelopes, stuffed and labeled hundreds of marketing kits, and generally performed the most monotonous tasks imaginable. It has been painful.
At first I thought of this as "soul crushing" work. However, I soon discovered that it wasn't my soul that was suffering here, it was my flesh.
Most recently, I've realized that God has been using this time to help me put to death my own selfishness and to crucify my pride on a daily basis.
These last few days the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me about my need to die to myself and to learn humility. The temporary work I'm doing now is God's instrument of death to my flesh, my self-love. My flesh is what cries out for any sort of escape or stimulation or rescue. But it is my flesh that needs to lay down and die upon this cross of daily humiliation.
This is good for me. This is God's amazing grace for me. This is "Conversatio Morem!" or "Constant Conversion!". Today I bend the knee and submit to Jesus as my Lord. He knows what is best for me and what is best for me is to humble myself before Him and to let him crucify my flesh as quickly as possible.
"Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness."- Hebrews 12:7-10
I came across this great quote today while reading a chapter in the amazing book, "Let Go" by Fenelon and I wanted to share it.
"Many are deceived into thinking that the death of self is the cause of all the agony they feel. But that which is dead does not agonize. The more finally and completely we die to self, the less pain we experience. Death is only painful to he who resists it. Self always resists death, because of its intense desire to live! The imagination works overtime, exaggerating the terrors of death. The self argues endlessly that the life of self is simply the natural thing."
So now I must say that I really do agree with my friend when he says that God responds, not to our tears or our pain, but when we seek Him and His Kingdom.
Certainly God does cry with us when we cry and He hates to see us suffer, but even more than this, He knows that we have need of discipline that has the power to transform us, if we will allow it.
Arms Of Love International Presents:
CHILDREN AT RISK - RESTORING OUR FUTURE
(Strategies for Global and Local Impact)
Featuring author and speaker, OS GUINESS
March 9 & 10, 2007 - at the Anaheim Vineyard
FIND OUT MORE AT:
According to recent estimates:
120 million street children
15 million AIDS orphans
10 million child prostitutes
2 million deaths/year from treatable diseases
500,000 child soldiers
We have heard their cry. We feel compelled to respond.
But we cannot do it alone.
*Os Guinness - author or editor of more than 20 books, was Guest
Scholar at Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies
*Phyllis Kilbourn - editor of six books on ministry to
children-at-risk, founder of Rainbows of Hope and president of
Crisis Care Training International
*Johan Lukasse - founder and director of Rescue and Restore Urban
Missions and a YWAM Children-at-Risk School in Belo Horizonte,
*Bryant Myers - Professor of International Development at Fuller
Seminary, was V.P. of International Program Strategy at World Vision
*Olara Otunnu - U.N. Special Representative for Children and Armed
Conflict 1997-2005, was Chairman of the UN Commission on Human
*Tri Robinson - Pastor of Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Boise,
Idaho and author of books including Revolutionary Leadership.
*Bert Waggoner - National Director of Vineyard USA and Pastor of
Vineyard Church of Sugar Land, Texas.
ALSO ON-HAND: Representatives from World Vision, The Viva Network, International Justice Mission, Rainbows of Hope (WEC International), Justice for Children International, Fuller Theological Seminary, the ECFA, The United Nations, Soul Survivor, Orange County Rescue Mission, Olive Crest Homes & Services for Abused Children, and KidTrek.
FIND OUT MORE AT