By A Way Of A Cross

My Post (6)Storms of life – we all go through them at some time in our life, we all experience them from time to time, and we all have to prepare for them. Some of these storms, of course, are of our own making. There are other storms in life that are of somebody else’s making, and they drag us with them into it. There are some storms that have nothing to do with us, they just come unwelcomed and sometimes unexpected. In fact, some storms arise because we are in the very centre of the will of God. Such storm must never shake us. Why? Because just as Jesus sat in the boat with his disciples in the middle of the storm of the sea of Galilee, he will also sit with us in our boat of life during such storm.

But the question is – when the storms of life come, do you put your whole trust in the hands of the captain of your ship? Storms in life do not endanger a child of God, they do not they eclipse the face of God, nor do they enfeeble the will of God. Contrary to what some people think, storms in our lives do not make or mold us. But they merely reveal what we are made off. You can never know what a person is truly like until you can see them operate in the storm. How they handle the pressure of life reveal what they are made off. I’ve recently come to realise that it is a lot easier to share from a place of victory but not from a place of trial. So here I am writing and sharing in the midst of my trials as I  find myself in one of those storms of life, which I think is of my own making.

Thank you all for your prayers and support over the years, and especially in recent times of me being unemployed. Just to be clear, I was not sacked from my last job, but I left by my own free will for one reason or the other (after over a year with the company). Right from the start, I was unsettled there, and on occasions started to seek an open door elsewhere, but all to no avail. My heart was torn between trying so desperately to cling on, or giving it up to pursue other open doors. God knows I tried to make it all work out. I’ve agonised to keep what was familiar, what was comfortable, but God permitted me to leave it. In leaving, without a new job to go to, I realise I put myself in a position of jeopardy. But my greatest fear is that perhaps, my decision to quit displeases the LORD.

Charles Spurgeon once said the following: “Life is like a school, except that sometimes, you don’t know the lessons until you have failed the examination.” We should be careful never to close a door until God closes it. Even as Christians, it is easier to run away from our circumstances. But trusting God and fleeing is beneath the dignity of the Royal blood that flows through our vein. In the Spiritual walk and warfare, there is no running away, but only advancing and conquering. We are to stand firm and resist the devil. The only time the Bible says we should flee is from temptation and sin.

The Bible tells of the story of Jonah, the man who was running away from the will of God. Jonah was caught up in a storm right in the middle of his waywardness, as he was travelling on a boat in the opposite direction to where God told him to go. But when he was thrown overboard, he found himself inside the jaws of the fish, then he repented in a hurry and the storm ceased. Jonah had to learn the hard way that God accomplishes all things according to the counsel of HIS will.

Sometimes in our eagerness to change our circumstances in our way and time, we don’t see how God is working in so many fronts all at the same time for His purpose. Surely, it can be painful and difficult to wait for the slow unfolding purpose of God in His time, but it can even be much more difficult and painful if we don’t. I do take heart as I’ve been reminded lately that even behind a frowning providence, God hides a smiling face.

For me, the Sovereignty of God is the most comforting doctrine in the Scripture. I’m pretty sure that I haven’t taken God by surprise by my decision to leave my last job. Although I may be prone to wander and prone to stumble, I know that God is overruling, that God is the one who is in charge of all, that God is reconciling all things to himself, that God is working ceaselessly and purposefully in all areas of my lives to weave out a beautiful and magnificent tapestry.  I know that before the throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect plea. I know that God’s mercy is so great that he looks beyond my weaknesses and He finds purest gold in miry clay.

Presently, it is as if I’m where David was at, at one point of his life (1 Samuel 20), – the arrows have fallen beyond the stone of Ezel. The arrows have landed beyond my own comfort and comfortable target. I’ve been searching for something but found less than nothing. I’ve tried in vain to tear down so many doors, but I’m left wandering in defeat.

Before David became a king, Saul wanted him dead, and so David went into fleeing mode. If you study the life of David as revealed in Scripture, you cannot help but think that with all this visible evidence of God’s intervention, with all the miraculous work God has shown him, you would think that David’s fear would quieten. But no, they don’t. Do you know why? Because David was a man like you and me, he had clay feet too.

When the British explorer, Sir Francis Drake returned home to England after his 5th voyage around the world. When he got to the river Thames,  a storm appeared to be brewing and the storm was threatening the very vessel that he had sailed for many years. The vessel was tossed about and was about to run aground. As the old mariner found himself in this situation, he clinched his fist and he said, “Can it be that I who have braved the dangers of the Seven Seas, who have sailed through mighty storms, must now come home to be drowned in a ditch?”

This illustration captures exactly where David was at a certain point in his life and how he must have felt. David had defeated the giants, killed lions and bears with his bare hands, he had slain his tens of thousands, but now he is fleeing from Saul. He had braved the dangers of the seven seas but now he’s about to drown in a ditch.

Jonathan (Saul’s son) remained a loyal friend to David throughout all the saga. They devised a plan between each other: The plan was for David to go to the fields and hide while Jonathan would go over to his father (Saul) to find out if he was really determined to kill David, or if he was willing to spare his life. Once that was established, Jonathan would then secretly signal to David in hiding (so to tell him which way to go). Jonathan would signal to David by shooting 3 arrows beyond or before the stone of Ezel. If the arrows fall before the stone, then David would know everything is alright. But if the arrows go on the other side beyond the stone, then David would know to run for his life.

The three arrows were shot by Jonathan and they all landed beyond the stone of Ezel. Can you imagine that empty feeling in the pit of David’s stomach as he is seeing his whole future flying pass right in front of his eyes? Where would David go from here? David here stands at the crossroad of life. The arrows have landed where David had nothing but the presence of the LORD (which is everything). For David, God’s purpose was a throne, but you know what? He would have to go to it by a way of a cross.

God always wait until we run out of all human solutions before he manifests his power for his children. Because when our strength replaces his; when our ingenuity replaces his; when our power replaces his; when our own manufactured peace replaces his peace that passes all understanding; when our own will replaces his perfect will; when our own self-sufficiency replaces his all-sufficiency, we will find ourselves paddling our canoes right in the middle of the storm.

Like David, I’m at the crossroad of life too, and I’m willing to leave everything behind to go to the unknown. My faith in not knowing what the future holds, but knowing who holds my future. Like David, I know God is purposefully leading me onward and forward for good, because HE is supreme above all my circumstances. But I may have to get there by a way of a cross too. I know that this broken road prepares His will for me.

Lord, I’m going to trust You will all of my heart because I know that You will be with me on the other side of the stone of Ezel.

In many ways, the stone of Ezel is like the Cross of Christ. Before the Cross – there is the worldly kingdom, and after the cross – there is a separation from the world, there is a reliance only on the LORD. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” This is why the apostle Paul refused to glory except in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to him, and him to the world.

Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou, from hence, my all shalt be.
Perish every fond ambition,
All I’ve sought, and hoped, and known;
Yet how rich is my condition,
God and Christ are still my own!

Hymn written by Henry Francis Lyte