No matter what is happening in our life God is working and leading us in the direction to learn and grow.
I have to confess at first I was put off by her. She was prim and proper, dressed elegantly yet conservatively and reminded me of the conceited rich people I knew through my time with Young Life Carmel, who rubbed me the wrong way with there condescending and better than thou attitude. But with Elizabeth Elliott this was not the case. She was a very Godly woman after God's heart. It was more of my immaturity and the way her generation was raised. This too taught me to be more sensitive and be a better listener.
I was struggling with dating. I since the time I started High school through college, graduate school and then seminary worked fulltime and went to school fulltime. Thus, I had little time to explore dating. So I found myself in my late 20's and realized I could count the dates I had been on, on one hand and have fingers left over. Yet, I who was a youth pastor and conference speaker, was too shy to ask girls out, so I was depressed over this. I was also struggling with the abuse I had from my step father growing up, and was wondering if all the pain and suffering and work I went through was worth it.
- We are called to be an offering!
Elizabeth Elliott takes me right to one of the most familiar verses in the Bible for me; Rom 8:28-29. She reminded me that everything that happens fit into His plan for us for good. She told me no matter what I went through, I needed to realize it has and it is happening anyway so we should take advantage of it. We are called to be shaped in His likeness, regardless of what we may perceive or experience. We may not see the joy through our grief, yet He is there loving us and caring for us. "His love for us is unshakable", we have to learn that. Our faith will shake, but His love does not. We become distracted, He does not. All this I have heard before and even have taught it myself so many times, then Elizabeth Elliott told (she attended a church I was on staff at) me something that has stayed with me and shuttered me from my despair to His repair: "The spear that took my husband shook me from my faith temporally but not from His love." Then she told me how it prepared her for ministry, how she grew and how He has used her and brought her another husband, and when he died God brought her another, He has always provided. Then I realized how petty I was being, that everything happened in my life a reason. For us to learn and grow, suffering will happen all for His purpose and glory.
So we are in this life so temporarily to learn and grow, to prepare us for eternity. Unfortunately we keep our eyes on ourselves and not on Him, so we miss so much in life. Now I was determined to not let this temporary life pass me by, or dwell on my suffering, but allow it to be used for reaching others and for me reaching Him.
Thoughts on Learning
· If God never used the rod against us, it would mean He hates us. Just as good punishment from a loving parent is never abuse. It corrects us to the right behavior, and with God the right path. His love is guiding us, our faith waivers and struts off the right path that perhaps only a rod will bring us back.
· I believe it was James Dobson who said once that if you overcorrect a child in the early formative years they will either rebel or withdraw from ever achieving more in life. For example if we never let a child touch thinks they will not be willing to explore their world. If we never let a small child reach for a book, even if they cannot read, then they may grow up hating books. But I'm not speaking of over correction because God does not over correct us. We may think He does because our emotions and expectations get in the way.
· How do mature people get that way? By fear of the Lord. The respect and wonderment and awe. The fact that we go though trials is the proof that He does indeed love us!
· I live because He died! Out of death comes renewal and life, because God transfers and transforms His death for our lives so that we can live in a new life. So that we can be a blessing to others as He has been for us. This is what we are to learn!
Proverbs 15:32 "He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding."
In seeking out His will, we honor Him through humility. This is the mark of a wise and mature person. When He disciplines us He is training us. Because of His sovereignty, He has us in His hands. He cannot run us if He cannot run the Universe, if he cannot run a single molecule, how can He be in control? So everything that happens, happens for a reason that will end up being good. Just as in Joseph's life, as with mine, as with yours.
Jealousy did not triumph over Joseph, nor did the cistern, or the slavery, or the betrayal, or the prison, or the false accusations, or the long wait from being forgotten. Joseph was lifted from the dungeon to the kingship of the most powerful country at the time. It happened in His time not Joseph's!
Even if we are not risen up from our dungeon, God still has us in His control. We may not see His pattern or plan, but it is there.
· Our hurt and pain, our rejection and loneliness may cloud us for a time, but we must not let it lose our focus.
· God knows our suffering, and has a plan to work it out, if not now, then in the life to come.
READ Psalm 146
· Even in our times of waiting and confusion we are to praise Him. We are not praising because of our suffering, but that He is still in control. We don't have to thank God for our accident, but what we can learn and who He is through it.
· Remember sin corrupts it's way through everything and into our lives as well. So when the sin encroaches upon us and takes us for a ride, He will work it out. And the beneficiary is us, when we have our confidence in Him.
· Even in our brokenness and contrite heart He is there
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58: 9-11)
In seeking God's will when we offer all that we are to our Lord He will honor it. Jesus took the boy's lunch and used it to feed 5000, just think what He can do for you. Even all that we have is our brokenness it may be the best honor we can ever lay to Him.
- He will transform our pain into glory.
"After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: `I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do." (Acts 13:22)
- Moses asked: "If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people." (Ex. 33:13)
- Job asked: "Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong." (Job 6:24)
- David asked: "Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." (Psalm 25:4-5)
Just look at all the passages where God is directing us upward to learn and not inward to be filled with contempt! (Ex 33:13; Job 6:24; Job 34:32; Psalm 25:4-5; Psalm 27:11; Psalm 51:6; Psalm 86:11; Psalm 119:12; 26; 33; 64; 66; 68; 108; 24; 135; 171; Psalm 143:10) And there are many more!
Consider it the ultimate classroom to grow in our faith and practice for His glory. Sometimes we make wrong decisions that land us in hardship. Sometimes someone did something to us, a spouse, a business partner, or a political decision that got us fired, or lost a business, or lost a relationship. It could have been the reckless driver in a big hurry to the bar after work who runs a light and you end up crippled. Sometimes it is nothing we did to deserve our desert wondering, such as happened to Job in the Old Testament.
When such things happen, there are no words of comfort. The last thing someone wants to hear is we are there to learn. It is always the last thing I want to hear. "So what did you learn from that Richard", a pastor asked me when I lost my job, my fiancé ran off, I became seriously ill, and my car broke down all in the same week. I did not want to hear such words, but I needed to hear them, because without the meaning, the reason it happened; then it would be futile and meaningless. All that we have gone through would be just a cosmic joke. So the question must be sought, and virtue must be pursued. If not there would be no dignity in it, no plan, no purpose, and no God working in us.
When we are encouragers to others it means we have the strength for others and we have a surplus for ourselves.
Ó 1994, 2001 R.J. Krejcir www.intothyword.com
Richard Joseph Krejcir, is the Director of 'Into Thy Word Ministries, 'a discipleing ministry. He is also a pastor, teacher, speaker is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California and has amounted nearly 20 years of pastoral ministry experience mostly in youth ministry, including serving as a church growth consultant.