Growing Into the Fellowship of Christ’s Sufferings

Woman and Jesus

“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”~ C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

I recently posted this in a comment on another blog and felt the Lord wanted me to share it with you all.

When we suffer pain, God has a purpose in it. First it makes us to turn to Him alone when everything else in our lives has “gone south.” I had to reach the end of myself before I surrendered to Christ in 1970. If He had not come to me when He did, I would have ended my life. He picked me up and gave me His beauty for my ashes, His joy for my mourning, and His praise in my heart for the spirit of depression and suicide.

Then phase two started, God’s child training. After a wonderful honeymoon with Jesus that lasted ten months, the pain started again, but this time it was my Daddy taking me out to the woodshed (see Hebrews ch. 12). I then went through years of church abuse and disillusionment with what calls itself “the church,” because I found it to be the same dysfunctional family that I grew up with. My father was an alcoholic, but this time the booze of choice was power over the people. God had to let me get kicked around in that system until I quit looking to men for what only He could give. Jesus’ words, “Call no man father, teacher or Rabbi (pastor)” finally took on new meaning and scope. Christ was to become my all in all and He shares that place with no man.

More recently another thing has been happening along the lines of what Paul alluded to in his letters. For years I have licked my wounds and felt the pain of what others have done to me, but now He is letting me feel the pain of what I have done (and am doing) to others instead. It is part of “the fellowship of His sufferings” (See Philippians 3:10). Paul said about a healthy body, “when one member suffers, all members suffer.” I rarely saw this in all my years of church going. Most of my life I have been so absorbed in my own pain that I could not feel what I was doing to others and could not feel Jesus’ pain. He stands before the Father ever making intercession for us as our High Priest who is acquainted with our humanity and sufferings in a very real way. He has been making me feel His empathy as well – feeling the pain and sufferings that others are going through whom I have not affected directly. Paul spoke of wanting to “know the fellowship of His sufferings” and “filling up the sufferings of Christ” in himself. This happens when we finally start to walk as He walks upon this earth, and gladly start embracing the pain that death might work in us so that life might abound to others. It is no longer about “our little owie ” any more, but us reaching out beyond our pain in Christ’s love for others because of our love for Him–such a great love that we even want to be conformed to His death.

“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

Love you all,
Michael

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Voiceless.

This is a must read for anyone who has been abused and tossed away by their uncaring attackers and suffered from the indifference of those who should have cared. I highly recommend this sister’s blog. Thank you Tiffany Clark of Scotland.

messytheology

Pleading hands stretch out on a wooden doorframe. Crimson blood stains its lintel. A woman’s life slips silently away as the members of the household sleep in peace, safe on the other side of the door. Do they not care that she has spent the night in indescribable torture? Does it not matter to them that she has been raped and beaten beyond recognition? But they sleep on, undisturbed by her plight. And she breathes her last, voiceless in life as in death.

In those days Israel had no king. Now a Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. But she was unfaithful to him. She left him and went back to her father’s house in Bethlehem, Judah.
Judges 19:1-2

What voice did she have in leaving home and becoming a concubine? Bethlehem was her birthplace, and…

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He Gives Beauty for Our Ashes

Beauty for ashes

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound… to comfort all that mourn… to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1-3 KJ2000)

Jesus read from this passage in His home town synagogue in Nazareth and after reading them he closed the scroll and said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted, to set us free, open our prison doors, unbind and comfort us, but we also have a part in this.

It is hard to love someone when the things they say or do trigger bad memories of former abusive situations we have been through. Some of these offenses include child abuse, sexual assaults, trauma from wars, physical assaults, divorces, and abuse by authorities in the church. Sometimes someone close keeps rubbing salt in the wound that they may have caused and we become more and more reactive and closed off to them and others as a result.

God has had to go deep into my heart and show me areas in my life that were not healed and why each of them made it impossible for me to love certain kinds of people. He took on one offense at a time, showed me the past event in my life that caused it and how it formed a “trigger” in me that was reactive to that thing or type of person. Jesus also told me that He would never be able to use me in their lives until I was healed of those offenses (this, by the way, included over half the world’s population for I had a bitterness in my heart against women). I then had a choice to make–to let the Lord heal me or continue on in my bitterness, striking out at everyone that tripped my triggers. I had to face my own hardened heart and unforgiveness in each of these areas and call out for Him to heal me of all the baggage I was carrying from those old offenses.

As I though about these things I saw a picture of a hotel lobby from above with a main entrance at one end. All around its perimeter were doors that opened in to the rooms in the hotel. In the middle of the lobby Jesus stood, asking to be let into one of the rooms. The hotel was my heart. Years ago I had let Him in (see Revelations 3:20), but that was as far as He had gotten. The lobby was His but not all the rooms, because I had not given Him permission to enter most of them and take possession of those areas in my life. The New Testament says that we who believe are the house or temple of God (see 2 Cor. 6:16). With this vision and verse in mind, the following passage took on scope for me:

“Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3 RSVA)

Jesus has come to the Father’s house, and we who are His are that house! He is preparing a place for us and Father to dwell. It is a house made of living stones. “You also, as living stones, are built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5 KJ2000)

Bitter Roots

In Hebrews we read:

And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (Hebrews 12:13-15 KJ2000)

Speaking of the coming Messiah John the Baptist prophesied:

And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (Matthew 3:9-10 KJ2000)

Our bitter roots that spring up from past offenses have to go. Jesus is after them. They are good for nothing in His kingdom or in His Father’s house. They defile everyone they touch. Each of our locked rooms has a bitter root behind the door that is festering, and its tentacles extend under the door and trip up anyone who comes near. Instead of the lame being healed, we trip them up with our open wounds.

This is the process God has been working in me. Jesus asked me to open my heart’s door to Him in 1970, and He came in at that time. In 1978, after dealing with a couple of my festering rooms, He asked if I would be made whole, or would I be content to be like the lame man at the pool, being able to walk. I could go on without my deeper heart issues dealt with and risk falling right back on my pallet by the pool, looking for a man to help me (read John 5:7-14). At that time, I had more faith in my ability to be lame than I had in His grace to cleanse me, make me whole, and keep me that way.

So, for years I continued to carry many bitter root judgments in my heart that defiled those around me and kept Him from using me as part of their healing. I did not strive for peace with all men and women, but subconsciously I often looked for buttons to push in a vindictive way. The wounded became the wound-er instead of an instrument of healing, and many became defiled. In the last eight months the Lord has been going after the other shut doors in my heart and it has been painful, but worth it. People who have come to know me have been praising God for the healing that is going on and the fruit that is coming from it. Praise His name. I know that He is not finished yet for He also showed me that there are more rooms that have yet to be opened and cleaned out, but the more freedom I experience, the more I want Him to leave nothing in me that is not of Him.

So often the abused become the next generation of abusers when we are not healed… and the beat goes on. In Exodus we read,

“… I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me..” (Exodus 20:5-6 RSVA)

With generation after generation, sin begets sin. But wholeness also begets wholeness. It is in our holiness (God’s healed wholeness in us) that men see the Lord and as we are healed we break the cycle of handing on our sin to others.

When Jesus touches the latch on one of our doors asking enter and heal us, all the pain of the wound behind the door comes flooding up to the surface, and we bolt the door against Him as we have bolted it against everyone else in our lives who touched our door. It is up to us to not fail to obtain the grace that God has for each one of us, and to call out to Him like blind Bartimaeus who refused to be silenced, “Jesus, you son of David, have mercy on me!” In short, we have to become sick and tired of being sick and tired and sick and tired of wounding other people.

God has a new heart, a new spirit and even the mind of Christ that He wants us to have in us so we can be extensions of His Son on this earth. Jesus said, “I will not leave you alone. I will come again to you.” He comes to us again and asks to be let in so we can be healed. As Christ has freedom to heal us, He also gains the freedom to act and speak through us, and then we start bearing His fruit instead of our own. As His healthy body, we become a manifestation of who He is on this earth to everyone who wants to be healed. Jesus prayed for this just before went to the cross He prayed saying

“That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which you have given me: for you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:21-24 KJ2000)

How can we be where Jesus is? Where was He when He said these words? He was in unity with the Father and could rightly say, “The prince of this world is come and has found nothing in me.” This is where Jesus also wants us to be. He had no locked rooms that the devil had the key to. We don’t have to live in a house divided against itself. We don’t have to live with all manner of dead things behind the locked doors in our hearts. All He asks is that we open up to Him and let Him come in and heal us. He loves each of us, knows our end from the beginning, and knows that when He appears we shall be like Him for we shall finally be able to see Him as He is without our vision clouded by our former hurts and wounds. He does truly give us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for our mourning and the garment of praise for our spirit of heaviness.

Learning Obedience as Sons and Daughters of God

carrying crossIn the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered (Hebrews 5:7-8 RSVA)

I recently wrote an article on our blog titled, “The Death of a Vision.” I described an ordeal in which I dreamed that I was to pray for the healing of a sister in Christ named Sandy. She was a dear friend with terminal cancer, and according to the dream I was to pray in person while laying my hand on her. I did this in front of the congregation at the leading of the pastor. She later died of that cancer. It was a traumatic time for me for I was still young in the Lord and just knew I had heard God.

Since I posted that article I got an email from long time readers of ours, a couple from Australia who commented and shared from their own experiences on how God trains us as His obedient children. Writing for her husband this sister wrote:

 “God gives us the vision as you had, but often the details are not as the vision actually is and we misinterpret them, as God knows we will. Then we are in the problem phase of the whole process as we try to hold onto our belief in God and our ability to hear His voice despite appearing on the surface of things to having got it all so wrong. Then, eventually comes the provision of the promise, as with your other ladies being healed [many years later after Sandy died. ~ mdc]. It’s not straightforward is it?”

This explanation of hearing God and misinterpreting what we hear because of being emotionally involved or just not understanding and then disillusioned by the outcome was right on. I have gone through these three phases in my life more than once; 1) The Vision for your calling in Christ, 2) The Problem – the vision does not work out the way we had planned, and 3) The Promise – God comes through, but not the way we thought He would. All you have to do is look at the lives of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Elijah and David (to name a few), to see that this is part of the way that God trains His saints for obedience to Him.

After Sandy died, her husband, Dan, sought me out to comfort me. In my dream I saw Sandy in perfect health at the peak of her maturity, and she radiated life. Dan explained that I had seen the heavenly Sandy after the Lord took her home, and that I should not be dismayed, which was very kind of him. I saw Sandy in her perfected body in a room flooded with light, but I chose to believe that it was here on earth and that she was physically healed.

Eventually, my first interpretation of the dream of me stretching out my hand and seeing people healed did come true, but not until I went through a lot of dying. God knows that man is corrupted by power and that old Adam in us must be thoroughly killed before He dares to use us in the lives of others in such a powerful way. I had to go through many years of Him killing everything in me before He used me almost 20 years later to heal those other two women that had terminal cancer.

These successful healings set me up the next temptation, to think that I was a “healer.” One friend, a retired pastor, even suggested that I “exploit my gift.” We all have read about and seen the TV version of people with famous healing ministries and all the hoopla that carnal people make over them as they are elevated to stardom. In effect Satan is right there saying, “All the kingdoms of the world are mine to give if you will obey me and just bow down and worship this image of fame that I have for you.” He is good at what he does and many people fail at this point. Paul wrote that Satan will come “with all power and signs and lying wonders seeking whom he may deceive” and he does.

I overcame the temptation to see fame, because by then the Lord had drilled into me that I was nothing and it was not my place to think otherwise or try to “grab the gold ring” when it is within reach, but rather to rest in Him and let Him do what He wants to do when He wants to do it. But once the word gets out that you have been used to heal terminal cancer, you get a lot of attention just the same and you really don’t want to disappoint others who are dying. That is the real test–will you obey the wishes of others, or will you disappoint them, seem cruel and cold, obey the Lord, and stay put?

Bob Mumford told a story in one of his books or tapes about a neighbor across the street who was training his retriever dog. He would take a stick, throw it and say “Fetch.” After many days the dog would go get the stick, bring it back to him, and he would tell the dog, “Heel.” The dog would sit by his side and wait for the next command. Eventually the dog was doing both these commands well. But then one day the man threw the stick and said, “Heel!” instead of “Fetch.” That that poor dog nearly came unglued. The action said “Fetch,” but the command said, “Heel.” That is what God does with us. He fine tunes us to obey and we can’t always go with our experiences. We have to listen to His voice.

As young Christians, when God does something miraculous or prophetic in our lives, we want to run out and tell everyone about it. What starts out as enthusiasm for the Lord ends up with us believing in our own “press releases” and blowing our own horns to draw attention to ourselves.

The sister in Australia went on to write in her comment,

“My biggies were thinking I was being told to trust a pastor for three years when he was the most untrustworthy person I have ever known! It took me a year to trust anything other than the Lord is my shepherd and he is worthy. Talk about learning to walk all over again!

“I don’t think I’ll even go into the next biggest challenge I had in trusting in what I believed I was being told by God but it was devastating. For three years I believed that something wasn’t going to happen, that God was reinforcing what I was hearing, and then it happened and I was shattered. Again! Now we hold very lightly to what we believe we are being told and just wait to see if it happens and if it does, then we talk about it to others.”

Being obedient and then having things blowup in your face as a result, as many of us have found out, pops our bubble. We think that if we obey the Lord, everything will turn out great, but in the short haul it doesn’t always do so. In the long run it does, but often not the way we think.

Sometimes obedience makes us do things that cause misunderstandings and rejection from the ones we love and care about. This very fact has gotten many of us bounced out of our churches in the past, just because we obeyed the Lord! Obedience is not about instant gratification as we would like, but about following and obeying His voice. The results to our comfort zones can be disastrous.  Jesus was a classic example of this kind of obedience and so was Paul. It got them into hot water with the religious establishment of that day and eventually killed!

There is often a cost to obeying the Lord as far as our immediate well being in this world is concerned. This cause and effect mindset had to be undone in me. I felt that as long as I obeyed the Lord or his representative (read: pastors) perfectly, everything would come up roses. It did not. Jesus obeyed the Father perfectly and it cost him everything on the cross, but it produced a far greater weight of glory and reward later — the bringing forth of many brethren and the sons to the Father. Jesus learned obedience through the things which He suffered and He is the Son of God. What makes us think that we will have it any easier? He endured the cross because of the joy that was set before Him, not the things that seemed right in His own eyes.

The real lessons in our lives are never about us having the best of both worlds. God is a good Father and He does not spoil us. We read in Hebrews that He rebukes and chastens those who are His children and He scourges those who are His sons (Put that verse in our politically correct ideas of how to raise kids!). If we are one of His, God puts us through all kinds of trails because He is a good Father. He is more concerned with our eternity with Him than He is with our temporal comfort here on earth that lasts for a short time.

T. Austin-Sparks wrote:

What is the purpose of sonship? It is to bring us into a place of spiritual responsibility. God never puts responsibilities upon ‘official people,’ but upon sons. Therefore He has to train us as children in order to develop sonship in us, to bring us there where we can take responsibilities for God. He seeks to bring us to a state of spiritual maturity, to full growth. This cannot be done in some Bible school, or by putting people ‘into the ministry.’ God never works on an official side. Oh yes, God does take us into His school. He can also take us into His school in some training institute. And it is a blessed thing if He does it.

But God’s school is something very different from mere scholarly activity. His Word says: “My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art reproved of Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” Note this word “whom He receives.” The exact meaning in the Greek is not ‘receives,’ but “whom He positions” or places. It is a matter of position. God is seeking to develop a state in us where He can trust us. When God is dealing with us, there is behind it a wonderful assurance that He is going to put His trust in us. He is bringing us into a position of trust. We do not just want to be servants, bits of a machine, but sons who have become one with the Father, and in whose hands He can put spiritual responsibilities. When we truly recognize this, we begin to understand why God is dealing with us as He does. But because God is in it we knows that the end is sure. He will bring His children through.

http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002941.html

So dear saints, if you feel that God has slighted you and rained on your parade, He probably has, but it is for your maturity and for His long-range purposes. God is funny that way–He believes that He is God, not us. God bless you as you submit to Him as your Father who loves you and knows what is best.

May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 RSVA)

It’s a Great Life IF You Weaken!

jesus_calms_stormHow often have we heard the saying, “It is a great life if you don’t weaken”? It sounds great at first, but is that the gospel of the cross of Christ?

I was comparing the following two passages written by James and by Paul…

James wrote:

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 KJ2000)

Paul wrote,

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us. (Romans 5:3-5 KJ2000)

Here we read that trials and tribulation work patience, and patience works experience, and experience works hope, and hope works the love of God in our hearts because of the Holy Spirit whom God has given everyone who puts their trust in Christ alone.

T. Austin-Sparks wrote:

Experience with God is much more than knowledge. We may be very greatly informed, and have a great deal of knowledge, but, lacking experience, our knowledge will remain purely technical information. Experience is more than knowledge. It is also far more than human cleverness. Clever people may be able to do a lot of things and seem to be successful. The absence of this quality of experience will find that their structures will sooner or later come crashing down, for there is no body there. Experience is something that we can never inherit, nor can it be transferred from one to another in any other way; it has to be bought. It is therefore the sole possession and property of the individual who has it. It is something very personal. If it had been possible for the Father to bring His own Son, the Lord Jesus, to the designed and determined end in any other way, He would have done it. The only way was experience: “…yet learned (he) obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb.5:8); He was made “perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10). Even Jesus Christ (and I speak in a certain sense) had to buy His experience. He had to come to the full end, or the end of fulness, to be made perfect, made complete, by the way of experience.
http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/001978.html

It seems that God puts a high premium on seeing us gain experience in overcoming our trials and temptations. He wants us to quit looking to ourselves and other things and start casting all our cares on Jesus, Who is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. We, like Jesus, must learn obedience through the things that we suffer. According to James, it is our faith that is being tried. Peter also spoke of our faith being tried.

“[We who believe]…are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In which you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold trials: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 1:5-7 KJ2000)

First, we are kept by the power of God, not our power. Even our faith is not ours, but Christ’s (see Gal. 2:16). It seems we get an infusion of His faith to get us started, and it grows until we have our own faith based on experiences we have overcome through Him. From these verses, I picture my faith in Christ being put in a refiner’s crucible with the heat turned up. That heat is trials and tribulations that determine if I will call out to Christ to be my strength and sufficiency in all things, or if I will just “gut it out” by my own strength. Paul said it best for me when he wrote:

“And he [Jesus] said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.’” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 KJ2000)

Paul, like James, counted it all joy when he found himself weak in a trial. That meant he had to throw himself on Christ, and see Jesus come through for him every time. He saw that his own human strengths were his biggest enemy. He expounded on this in telling about how he despaired even of life itself:

“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9 RSVA)

Paul’s faith was tested to the point of death, yet he believed that even if he were killed, Christ would raise him up again. It seems that Jesus might have done this earlier in His life (see Acts 14:19). This man had a strong faith in Christ because he lived on the ragged edge of walking by faith. Like a muscle, faith has to be exercised or it atrophies and dies.

In the American church, we hedge all our bets and do all we can to keep from having to walk by faith. We have insurance policies for everything imaginable. We have our 401k and IRA to cover us in retirement. We join unions to give us power and job security. If we get some kind of pain or infirmity, we run for the medicine cabinet or doctor’s office (for more pills – there seems to be a pill for everything) without even giving Jesus a chance to heal us. We avoid trials at all cost. We even avoid being tempted by cloistering ourselves in our churches and homes away from the real world where we might be seen with the wrong kind of people. We are inoculated against walking by faith in Christ alone. Our faith is not being tried! Is it any wonder that the American church is so feeble and powerless against the rise of evil that is closing in around us as a nation? We are a nation of weak Christians being led by weak church leaders who fall for every kind of temptation that comes their way. If you think I’m exaggerating, just type in “church corruption” on a Google search!

All that is missing is for us to totally put our trust in Jesus alone and walk wherever the Spirit leads us that we might know HIM as our sufficiency and strength in adversity. During my years in churches, whenever I felt God calling me out of my comfort zone and to get out in the trenches among the people of the world and do something that would make a difference in their lives, I was told the same thing by the pastors I submitted to, “You are not ready yet!” Nobody I knew was ever “ready yet” in the minds of these church leaders, if God was calling them to go out into the fray of the world and take a chance outside the daycare center called “Sunday church.” As one man from Argentina put it, “The church as we know today is designed to preserve the perpetual babyhood of the believer.”

So, dear saints, it is a great life in Christ if we allow Him to make us weak through trials and testings so that nothing comes out from ourselves. We are not to walk by might or by power, but by His Spirit. All we have to do is abide in the Vine and He will abide in us, and then He will bring forth the fruit of His kingdom, not ours. Amen.

August Rush

Oliver and FaganI am sitting here in tears as I try to express what is on my heart with mere words. I am not sure it can be done. I just finished watching a movie that is a newer version of the 1968 movie “Oliver,” which was based on a Charles Dickens novel, Oliver Twist. It is called “August Rush.” It’s about a boy named August (Evan) who was separated from his parents as a newborn and how he finds them again by “following the music.” It turns out he is a child protégé and could play almost any instrument and he composes and leads his first concert at eleven years old.

I believe that we are all orphans on this earth and our Father is God, Who puts a melody in our hearts when we are born. We spend the rest of our lives trying to find the Source of the music and get back to our Father. We, like August, end up on many side avenues in that search. We sometimes settle for something less as we are looking for love, but God’s true love is that melody and the music we long for. There are many kinds of love, and some of them are near misses to the real thing. But there is only ONE Love that our hearts are tuned to resonate with, the love of our Father in heaven.

I, like many of you, have spent my life looking for the Source of the music. I had many people tell me that they had the music I was seeking. And this also made me vulnerable to these who claimed to have the music or know where it could be found (see Acts 20: 29-31). Later I found out they were lying and had concocted a tune of their own to lure people off course for their own nefarious purposes and away from the quest that God put in our hearts. Eventually we learn to shut out all the discordant notes and sounds that claim to be coming from Him, as August did, and press on for the mark, the high calling of knowing and abiding in the Father’s love as Jesus does.

Yes, August kept on following the music until he found his mother and father. They were also musicians who believed their son would follow the music to them. Keep following the music, my precious friends and siblings in Christ, and don’t settle for anything less than the Love of your Father who calls you. Here is what His song sounds like:

 Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]

 

“The music is all around us. All you have to do is listen.” ~ August Rush