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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Inspired by . . .  Winter's Discipline

"When the student is ready, the teacher appears."

I read this on someone's IG account the other day.  My friend wasn't talking about spiritual things but it made me wonder . . .

How many of us, who are waiting for Christ to reveal Himself or His plan for our lives, are still waiting simply because we are not ready to receive all that He has for us?

We like to think we are ready. 

I like to think I am ready.

But the truth is that most of God's purposes for us are realized through trials and suffering. 

Because His power is made perfect in our weakness.

And how many of us really signed on for that?

Well, ahem, we all did. Okay, I did. Maybe now you're not so sure?

Full disclosure:

God's word doesn't read like a modern day sales pitch or TV commercial. It doesn't tell us we are worth it, we deserve it, and everything is going to be perfect when we sign on.

Because, reality check, we're not, we don't, and it isn't.

Truth be told, much of our aversion to suffering has been propagated by the black box that is continuously feeding us these subtle lies about how our lives would be so much better if . . . Which eerily echoes: "Did God really say . . ."

But I digress.

God's word is pretty clear on what we can expect and what we must do.

The world will hate us. (John 15:18-19)

We will be persecuted. (Joh 15:20)

We will have trouble. (John 16:33)

We must deny ourselves and, day after day, take up our cross, and follow Christ. (Matt 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)

Now before you start wondering why is it all worth it, let us remember two things:

One, suffering is not, in and of itself, good. It is the product of our fallen world. Two, this world is not our home. What we experience here is not our final reality.

God, in His infinite love for us, has determined to use suffering for good. But we have to be careful of our pride.
"To believe in suffering is pride: but to suffer, believing in God, is humility. For pride may tell us that we are strong enough to suffer, that suffering is good for us because we are good. Humility tells us that suffering is an evil which we must always expect to find in our lives because of the evil that is in ourselves. But faith also knows that the mercy of God is given to those who seek Him in suffering and that by His grace we can overcome evil with good. Suffering, then, becomes good by accident, by the good that it enables us to receive more abundantly from the mercy of God. It does not make us good by itself but enables us to make ourselves better than we are. Thus, what we consecrate to God in suffering is not our suffering but our selves." Thomas Merton
To truly follow Christ means to identify with Him in His suffering. His way ended in victory and light but we cannot forget how it began; in obscurity, a meager feeding trough. Or how He lived; the Son of man has no place to lay His head. (Luke 9:58)

Or how He died. 

The Passion that drove Him to the cross can only be realized in our own lives when we die to self. Completely.

It is only through this act of dying that we can live to bring forth fruit; by receiving the purpose and plan He has for our lives.
"Christ's love is so great, it must lift our minds above our little struggles - and any preoccupation with our own salvation - so that we can see the needs of others, and beyond that the greatness of God and His Creation." J. Heinrich Arnold
Here is where the discipline of winter may enter in. Forced to wait in the cold and dark, a bit uncomfortable, our sense of sight diminished. Perhaps now our spirit will be free to hear the One Who speaks quietly below the chaos of our lives.

Maybe the lack of sun and colorless days will bring on the hunger that is necessary for us to be thankful for any scrap of bread that may fall from His table. Perhaps, if we're made to wait long enough, we may finally come to the end of ourselves. To be willing to die to this life so that we may live for His.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Gal 2:20)

So I ask you, is the student ready?


Sharing inspiration here:
#TellHisStoryFaith On Fire, Grace & Truth,
Inspire Me Monday, #HeartEncouragement,
Thoughtful ThursdaysWord Filled Wednesday,
Sitting Among Friends, #Glimpsesofhisbeauty
Counting My Blessings, Grace Moments,
#DanceWithJesus; Imparting Grace

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If you read something here that inspired you, I’d love to hear about it. Please know I appreciate every comment! Thanks so much for stopping by! Blessings, June