It is much easier to write a story, or to teach, or to minister to you, dear reader.
But sometimes, like today, I need the Word of God to minister to me. I just need it to cover me, to protect me, to assure me. I readily admit that in my own life, but while here, through this reading and writing journey, its admission has been said much with my lips, but written little with my fingers.
There have been a few times when I have written it, though, only to delete it all. I did not want any of these posts to be about me. I only wanted them to exalt the story of God in the New Testament of our bibles. I wanted these words to challenge me, and to challenge others. I do not regret that, nor am I afraid of any sort of debate. The Word of God speaks much better about any of these sorts of things than I do.
But today, all of that is put aside. Life has a sneaky way of placing you in testing moments. And even at your best efforts to rationalize and explain those times of trial, you just can’t. You just need the Word to speak something to you as only it can.
And today that day has come. Here are the sections, from today’s reading, that keep bouncing in my head.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed.
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.
So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (2 Corinthians 4:7-12; NIV84)
We are paradoxes.
We are disposable dirt jars, which hold an all-surpassing power. How can that be? How can something so weak hold something so powerful?
Our frail clay jars are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed.
God has deposited an all-surpassing power into the most vulnerable of vessels, to show his power at keeping these vessels together.
We may be cracked. We may be bruised. We may be hurt. But we are not destroyed.
We are not destroyed.
We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way:
in great endurance;
in troubles, hardships and distresses;
in beatings, imprisonments and riots;
in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;
in purity, understanding, patience and kindness;
in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;
in truthful speech and in the power of God;
with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;
through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report;
genuine, yet regarded as impostors;
known, yet regarded as unknown;
dying, and yet we live on;
beaten, and yet not killed;
sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;
poor, yet making many rich;
having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
(2 Corinthians 6:3-10; NIV84)
Being a servant to God leads you only to these trials.
Which begs the question: are you facing a trial? Constantly?
Trials are the greatest symptom/characteristic of a spirit-filled life.
Trials. Deep longing. A deep knowledge that the world isn’t right. And won’t ever be right. And that knowledge is affecting you. You hurt, yet are filled with joy.
George Mueller wrote that God’s way is only through trial. Yet he wasn’t the first to see that.
Being a servant of God makes you a display for his glory, because of your suffering.
Being a servant of God makes me a display for his glory, because of my suffering.
Brennan Manning writes this, in his book The Furious Longing of God,
I believe in God with all my heart. And in a given day when I see a nine-year-old raped and murdered by a sex maniac or a four-year-old boy slaughtered by a drunken driver, I wonder if God even exists. As I’ve said before, I address Him and I get discouraged. I love and I hate. I feel better about feeling good. I feel guilty if I don’t feel guilty. I’m wide open, I’m locked in. I’m trusting and suspicious. I’m honest and I still play games. Aristotle said that I’m a rational animal. But I’m not.
I feel like Brennan Manning. Today, I do, most especially. I am a jar of clay, that wants to break, so badly, but God’s spirit is in me, keeping the cracks from spreading. I can’t explain it, other than, as Jeremiah wrote, there is a fire in my bones, even when I wish to just be quiet.
Paul wrote strong words. Words to live by. Words to preach. Words that were written with experience pushing the pen forward with every stroke.
This is the only way God knows. That’s why it is a narrow road. That’s why few find it, and fewer walk it.
So I trust in that all-surpassing power. It’s all I have.