Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Beyond the Storm and Beyond the Clouds

"I believe in the sun, even if it does not shine.
I believe in love, even if I do not feel it.
I believe in God, even if I do not see him."
-An inscription on a wall of the Warsaw Ghetto by an unknown Jew, circa 1942

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
-2 Corinthians 4:5-18, ESV

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
- Romans 8:18-25, ESV

I cannot put my finger on any reason as to why I felt led to post this, but regardless of whether or not we are directly dealing with the reality of suffering or hardship, the reality of living in a broken world is not something that we can be removed from in any real way.

For the past several days I have been thinking a lot about and praying for the people in the Czech Republic. I did mission's work over there for two summers and was deeply changed by my experiences over there.

The first time I went, I remember leaving from the Charlotte airport and how dark and cloudy the sky was. As we were getting ready to leave and board the plane, the LORD had me centered on praying as we were leaving the ground and I was thinking about how the sky, much like my experience with God, was very cloudy at times. I was thinking about how hard it is to have a relationship with the living God and how crazy living in the world we live in is. The plane continued to go up and it seemed to only be getting even more cloudy.

Suddenly, we got high enough to where we got above the clouds and I saw the most beautiful sunset that I have ever seen. I started crying and I heard the LORD speak to me: "From where you are, things look cloudy. But above the clouds, the Sun is beautiful and shining brightly. You do not always see the Sun, but it is still shining and giving light."

My walk with the LORD has been like this at many times. Well...much of the time, if I am honest with myself; I cannot see what is ahead of me and I cannot break free from my past. Many times I have had to, as Rich Mullins so beautifully said, be "lost enough to let myself be led".

There are many things that the LORD has shown me in my short life so far, but there is much more that I do not know. In fact, there are things that I don't even know that I could possibly know about something. There are so many limits to the experience of life as a fragile human walking around on two feet on this planet known as earth.

However, there are two things that I do know, God is here with you and if you are in Christ He will cause ALL things to work together for good.

There is also a third thing that God will do. He will not only be with us in this life and cause all things to work together for good for those who love Him, He will also take us to Himself after death and wipe away all of our tears.

All of the things we have experienced on earth that are caused by sin will be no more. And the things we are experiencing now will seem as nothing compared to the glory that we will experience from that point on forevermore.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son."
-Revelation 21:1-7, ESV

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