Finding life and joy in affliction

One day not long after my Lord had chosen to reveal Himself in me — my wife and I had gone roller-skating with a young singles group that the church had given us to watch over.

We were all having a great time laughing and falling down, well mostly me — when one of the girls suddenly turned around right in front of me and we collided together and fell down.  But this time it suddenly hurt — a lot!

As I looked down to the floor I saw that my hand was knocked off the end of my arm and was now on top of my arm and some two inches closer to my elbow – – OUCH!

It was while I was laying on that floor that I heard my Lord’s voice audibly for the first time.  What I heard was . . . . “It doesn’t  matter.”

Now I tell you that in those moments with my body screaming at me and my mind racing over what was to come next to fix it —

 IT MATTERED!

But the amazing thing that happened next changed the whole direction of my life.  It was the beginning of a journey I could have never dreamed of nor would I have chosen if I had seen it.  Being human it was impossible and certainly unwanted.

His voice certainly got my attention,  But more importantly it was the words He spoke.

His words made me stop.

His words made me stop and start to pay attention to what I was thinking.

His words changed my focus.

His voice and His words made me focus on Him.  But then came something more that I was not prepared for and had given no thought.

Suddenly I could see what He saw.  Not only did He see me lying on the floor – I suddenly could see the girl with whom I had collided just moments before off in a corner crying.  Physically she was out of my site. But with His eyes I could see her plainly.

I knew instantly why she was crying.  She was blaming my accident on herself.

Suddenly my wrist “didn’t matter.”

Suddenly she mattered and I cried out –  “go get Julie – go get Julie!”

After she was brought to me I refused to let her go until she accepted the truth.  It was an accident.

Some two weeks later, He spoke again and said; “Follow Me.”

That was twenty five years ago.

Since then my journey has had many, many afflictions.  The worse some ten years ago, loosing my wife, my brother and my mother in the course of eighteen months after five years of care-giving.

But just exactly what did He mean ? . . . “It doesn’t matter . . . .Follow Me.”

Even as I lay on the floor that day it was hard for me to grasp.  I knew something in me had changed — but I didn’t know what.  Oh I could give you many scriptural quotes as any good  Christian.  But they were all mental assents and great if you want to win a Bible quiz.  I just knew that for some reason I felt better and that my life was going to be ok.

I felt better, because  I had heard my Lord’s voice.  I felt better because I had reached out to someone else in the midst of my affliction. My life became quiet and peaceful in the midst of my affliction and I became aware of my Lord’s presence with me.

That day I began believing in Him.

From that day until this day, I have come to know more and more deeply in the very depths of me — His presence.  I have come to know that my afflictions are the very place I reach out for Him and find Him.  I have come to know that it is in my afflictions that I find life.  Real life.  For as He tells me – He is life.  And it in those moments of revelation that I experience real Joy, real Peace!

So you see if were not for my afflictions I would not come to know Him.

I it were not for my afflictions, I would not become aware of sin.  Mine or  those who sin against me.

If it were not for my afflictions and what I  see everyday on the six o’clock news I  would not become aware of my need of Him.

Sadly in-spite of all the afflictions I see and experience, few do turn to my Lord.  Few do reach out for Him.  In stead they turn everywhere else  looking to the law or force and any other means to find relief from the afflictions of this life looking for peace and joy that never comes.  They look either for a man or try to become the man themselves. They contrive any manner of word and deed, making them law believing that will bring freedom from affliction, peace and joy and life.

Some think and teach that my Lord is concerned about your concerns and what is important to you and what you see going on around you.

Well mark these words …  “It dosen’t matter.”

There is a greater matter than the matters you see and experience.  There is a matter that determines your life.  Not just this life, but your life which is eternal.

What  matters is His matter.

And His matter is you and Him.  You matter to Him.  You matter to Him so much that He sent His Son.  To suffer the very afflictions you suffer.  He took all of the afflictions you have suffered and will suffer.  He took all of the afflictions of all of man and let us nail them to His cross.  There He died in my afflictions poured out on His body, His flesh, like mine.  And there He reach out to our Father.  And our Father heard His cry and reach out and raised Him up to new life.

If you are making your matter, your afflictions more important to you than His matter for you, you are robbing yourself and His of life.  If you are demanding Him to fix your afflictions here and now – He may not.  You are bringing Him down to your matters rather than letting Him raise you up to His matters.  But you matter more to Him than what you are going through right now.  What matters to Him is how  and what are you going to do with your matter, your affliction.

Will you reach out to Him?  Will you cry out to Him?  Will you believe in Him?  More than your matter?  If you will, you will find Him, you will find life, you will find peace and joy in your afflictions.  What seem like curses will become blessings.

My Lord says to me;  “The work of God is to believe in the One Whom He has sent.”  John 6:29

Are you believing in Him?  Then know it is work.  It is your life’s work while you are here in the good times and the afflictions of your life.

What will you do in your afflictions?

Will you demand of Him?  Will you complain to Him?  Will you cry fowl ball or find fault?  Will you rail against Him and those who persecute you?  Will you cry only for healing or restoration?  Or . . . .

Will you yield to Him?  Will you embrace His providence for your life? Will you cry out for Him?  Will you believe in Him –  not what He can do for you?

Will you take up your cross and follow Him?

Know that as long as you have His breath in you , you will be filling up in you, the afflictions which are His.  He suffered for you – will you embrace and endure your afflictions for Him?  If you will, you will not only find joy and peace, You will find Him who is your joy and peace.

Advertisements