“’All things work together for good…’ How many of you know that verse is completely unnecessary if all prayer was answered immediately? Faith brings answers; enduring faith brings answers with character. God is interested in both…Bishop Joseph Garlington told it this way, ‘We go from glory to glory, but it’s hell in the hallway.’ Romans 8:28 is for the hallway, right?…This is where trust is anchored in WHO He is, and that’s not abandoned because our circumstances don’t seem to measure up. And that’s where trust becomes fortified.” –Bill Johnson
There are seasons in faith of refining fire, where everything is a lesson on trust and dependence. It is in those times when we get a glimpse of how much we have yet to learn. I want to be mature in my faith, but unfortunately my faith doesn’t mature in green pastures and gently flowing streams. Although I occasionally experience that peaceful paradise, it is not a permanent resting place. I am called to take up my cross.
Hebrews talks about how Jesus, who “for the joy set before Him endured the cross.” Bill Johnson puts it this way: “Joy was the reward for the cross.” I wonder what cross you are called to carry today? I wonder what risk you have been moved to take? At the risk of sounding too much like a fortune cookie, I say this: although there may be great sacrifice, be encouraged; there is great joy to be found. Philippians 3:10-11 says, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. I want to suffer with Him, sharing in His death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead.” That first phrase: “I want to know Christ” is the cry of my heart, and I pray that it is the cry of our generation.
This life isn’t about us; it’s all about Him. Heidi Baker puts it this way: “He’s the One who’s lovely; He’s the One who’s beautiful…and He has captured my heart.” It’s that magnificent obsession that should draw us in to do anything He might ask; to do whatever it would take to know Him in all of His beauty. I don’t understand Him, and in many ways I feel that the longer I walk this journey and the more I come to know Him, the less I have a handle on all of this. It’s because every day I find that His ways are so much more intricately put together than I thought, and His heart much deeper than I had dared to imagine. With each new step I find that I understand Him less but desire Him more.
Dying to myself is a painful thing; it’s a daily thing; and it can seem like a never-ending thing. However, God is showing me that it doesn’t have to be a struggle. I don’t have to fight. That’s hard for my stubborn soul to hear.
A friend told me not too long ago, “We love the mountaintops, but in order to go from one to another, we must walk through the valley.” It’s a journey that God has called us on. It’s the Potter and the clay; it’s the gold and the furnace. It’s the prayer I pray for God to do His will in my life and make me more like Himself that brings the process that I don’t like. And how many of us truly like the answers to those beautifully spoken prayers? I am learning that I have no right to complain (though I often do anyway).
I don’t know what process God has you on today, but I want to leave you with something God told me just the other day: “Just keep walking.” Keep going; keep moving toward His heart. Although the waters might seem muddy and you can’t see very far ahead, follow His lead. Although the process might be painful, trust Him. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them (Romans 8:28).” Although you find yourself in the hallway between glory and glory or in the valley between the mountains, allow Him to anchor and fortify your trust in Him today.