Recently, he's be walking us through the lives of various 'saints' from the Scriptures, most recently Saul/Paul of New Testament fame. On Thursday, this was part of the text:
Like Saul, we're no match for God. Checkmate is inevitable. It's no game either. God will do whatever it takes to bring us to a point of absolute dependence on Him. He will relentlessly, patiently, faithfully goad until we finally and willingly submit to Him.**
Let me help you hone in on what hammered home for me: God will do whatever it takes to bring us to a point of absolute dependence on Him (emphasis mine).
Lately, I've found myself focusing on the v...a...s...t...n...e...s...s of God's plans, and how He is working out history--both broadly and personally--for the BEST end. Here is what I mean by "the best end": It might be that I am desperately ill and need God's healing touch. But the greater lesson might be to learn how God can heal my heart, and perhaps leaving my body damaged is the means to that end.
OR, it might be that I need my bills paid. But a greater need might be that I am placed in a position to remember Who my provider is. And to learn that lesson, my bills might have to go unpaid. My credit rating might even need to be trashed. I might even have to declare bankruptcy. When God has a great refining furnace lit, he will not stop until His servants are purified--no matter how much heat needs to be applied.
See, if God is all about His glory--and He is, make no mistake about it (Isaiah 48:11)--then the greater needs in our lives, not simply the cessation of our pain, are the ones that cause the reflection of His glory. If we twist and squint enough, sometimes we can catch a glimpse of the bigger picture God is painting, the one where the various moments of our lives become eternally echoing notes of praise to His glory, joining the symphony of all such moments across the scope of time and crescendoing into a larger, grander, more intricate and beautiful work than any that has ever been heard on planet earth--a work far greater than even Handel's Hallelujah Chorus!
But, if you're like me, you often just want the discomfort to end. Now would be good. Yesterday if possible. But because of His love for us, his infinite desire to refine and restore us, He will not leave us alone. He will not stop when it is wished, but only when it is finished. He tailors our experiences such that we become natural reflectors of Jesus Christ. And when we do THAT, it brings glory to Him. I think it is one of the coolest things in the universe that as God is working out His own glorification, we are beautified--and blessed--in the process. That just goes to show the goodness, the kindness, and the loving nature of our God!
And so, I stand amazed, and say, "Yes, Lord. Whatever it takes." And I try not to kick against the goads.
On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' "Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' " 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied. --Acts 26:12-15, NIV
(c) 2008, except where noted otherwise
**Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.