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Victorious Christian Living Newsletter – October 2014
This month I want to share with you a very personal story.
God turned a very tough and trying time into a much deeper level of growth and maturity than I have ever experienced before. I can truly say that it has made a forever impression on my life.
There are many memories that are still painful when they cross my mind. But God has ministered to me in an awesome way and revealed things to me that I would have never learned otherwise.
As I read the passage below I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit to share with you what happened. I can’t talk about specifics because other people are involved, but I can share the big picture.
C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity says:
…we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected) he often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come along–illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation–he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now?
Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us.
The first paragraph of the above quote is exactly how I used to feel about my life as a Christian. I never thought about the fact that God might send some adversity into it in order to grow and mature me. That is why it is so important for mature Christians to make it a point to help new Christians grow in the right way.
God does things much differently than we do, so new Christians need to be trained in new thought patterns that match what the Bible says. One outstanding example is the way God talks about faith – believe it BEFORE you receive it.
That is much easier to do once you start to see God’s Character. There are many places in the Bible where He tells me that if I will do a certain thing, He will in return do a certain thing for me.
As a young Christian, I never dreamed that God would on purpose place me in certain tough situations in order to grow my faith and mature me as a Christian.
I know in my case (and probably most of the population), I will do just about anything to keep things running smoothly and have peace in my life at all times. The only time I do something that I know will cause controversy is when I know specifically that the Holy Spirit has led me to do it. Then I have no choice if I am to continue in my close and personal relationship with God.
In 2013 God led me to take a stand for truth.
I prayed about it for 6 weeks to make absolutely sure I was to do it. I didn’t know how things would turn out, but I was so miserable that I had to do what I knew God was telling me to do. I know I could have chosen to ignore God, but then I would have been walking in disobedience.
How can it ever be a good thing to deliberately choose NOT to do something you are absolutely sure God has told you to do? Things didn’t go so well for Jonah when he disobeyed, and I knew they probably wouldn’t go well for me either.
If you have ever had a close and personal relationship with God, you don’t want to deliberately do anything to hinder it in any way. It’s too precious to lose!
I also knew I would never be able to look at myself in the same way if I didn’t take this stand for truth, and the situation was such that I was the only one who could do it.
God prepares you for years sometimes and then gives you a whopping, enormous, gigantic TEST to see what comes out of the refining fire as pure and real.
It’s easy to say the right things when you’re not under pressure, but it’s definitely not as easy to take a stand for those things when you don’t know what the outcome will be.
The outcome in this situation didn’t turn out well. It hurt because others whom I thought were mature Christians didn’t stand for the truth.
But I have peace that I did the right thing, and my conscience is totally clear about it. I know that my actions were done in the right spirit and that I was totally in the Will of God.
I learned a lot and have grown tremendously as a Christian because of what happened. God also used this very trying time to reveal areas in me where He desired growth and maturity on a much deeper level. I would not have chosen to go through this, but I learned things that have made an indelible and forever impression upon my spirit.
I also learned another important thing that I hope I remember in the future when another test comes along.
When you don’t stand for something you know is right, almost instantly your prideful flesh starts to justify your actions. (I saw this firsthand in two people who were involved.) You might wrestle with it but if you are determined to continue with the justification process, you can almost get to the point that you believe you did the right thing. But the KEY word here is ALMOST. Deep down you know the truth.
This whole process has brought to memory times where my own prideful flesh has won in the past. I justified my actions rather than acknowledging the wrong I had done.
In the future I hope that I recognize fleshly justification for what it is – a cover-up for keeping my fleshly pride intact. And I never want pride to come between me and God ever again.
I am so thankful that I didn’t back down from doing the right thing because I was afraid of the outcome. But sadly I can look back and see times where I know God was testing me and I failed the test badly.
I am so thankful that He didn’t give up on me after more than one failure. HIS MERCY AND GRACE ARE SO GREAT THAT WE CAN’T UNDERSTAND IT. At least I know I can’t. I thank God so much for 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th chances as I am on the road to Christian maturity.
God allows difficult things to happen in our lives to make us either run to Him or run away from Him and try to handle things ourselves. I shudder now when I look back and see the number of times I chose to run from Him. It’s funny how we think we control so much in our lives, when it only takes one moment to change things forever.
Always remember that God loves you so much that He wants to send tests your way to make you stronger.
But you are the only one who can make the choice.
Will you be obedient to what He asks, even when it might cause some pain? or will you let fear control your actions? If you choose the easy road, in the long run you will probably find that it has turned out to be the hard road.
If you’re like me, you will never desire controversy or problems, but if you can think about them in the light that God is maturing you as a Christian, you will desire to pass every test no matter how hard you think it might be.
God wants to change you into His image and likeness so that you can be used to point others to Him. But as always, He leaves the choice up to you!
To read about another experience that changed my life click here.
May God richly bless you as you seek to follow Him.