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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The greatest thing...

My life as a believer and disciple of Jesus Christ has not been without highs and lows, periods of inexpressible joy and deep heartache and sorrow.  I have noticed one thing that as I walked through these seasons of ups and downs, a specific aspect of the God’s nature and character, a new, or at least a better-understood truth would seem to surface and overshadow the rest.  Until we are alone, we not able to truly grasp the depth of Christ as friend, or
... until everything around us seems to be falling apart, that we grasp that Christ is our Rock,
... until the situation is hopeless that He is our hope,
... until sick that He is our healer.

God uses all the circumstances of our lives to reveal Himself to us and to learn to trust Him and to have a more intimate relationship with Him.  Sometimes when we in the process of learning, that particular part of God’s character may seem to the “most important of all the rest.”  We begin to see it everywhere and in almost everything. God’s Word seems to shout out this truth from almost every page. If we are not careful, we will begin to minimize other aspects of the nature of God because now we have “found the key that unlocks all other secrets.” 

It reminds me of when I was young, my grandfather bought a new red pickup and was so proud of it, he loved to drive it around the small rural community in which they lived. Not long afterward, something very interesting happened. Soon he began to notice that there were a bunch of red pickups around the town that he had never even noticed before. In a similar way, once we discover a new truth in the Word, it is not unusual to begin to see it “everywhere” and wonder why everyone else doesn’t see it as well. If we follow down that path, we will begin to see others as immature, or at least not as far along in the faith as ourselves who have this superior knowledge. [Paul and the early church had to deal with these issues as well, but that is not the central focus of this post.] Such prideful thoughts and actions will only lead to grief until we confess and forsake them. 

If we fail to grow and only continue to focus on the truth we have learned, then our growth will become stagnate.  As someone has said, “if all you have in your hand is a hammer, then everything begins to look like a nail.”  God’s nature and character is much greater than we can imagine and we must keep on deepening our relationship with Him so we can continue to grow in Who He is. Focusing on only one aspect is like saying that the most important part of a wrench is the part that fits on the bolt; however, the truth is without the handle the part that fits the bolt would be useless. A wrench is not a wrench unless it has both; they were never intended to be separated.

As finite creations, we are incapable of grasping it all, so our loving Father feeds us with the different foods and in the forms that are best for us and give Him glory. The process is not without pain, but it is not without joy, either. Just as there are changes in our physical growth, our understanding of God develops with the seasons of our lives.  Our growth and development does not minimize the importance of the former truths we learned, ut reveals that our infinite and almighty Creator is beyond our comprehension. When God opens a door to reveal more of who He is, we need to remember that it is just a door and not confuse it with the entire building.

Let me break this down just a little more. When we come to Christ, we are overwhelmed with all that God in Christ as done to redeem us; the grace of God is beyond our capacity to understand.  Later, we may begin to focus on the depth of the cost that Christ suffered, or the power of the resurrection and victory over death and hell, or consummation of time itself and spending eternity with God in heaven.  The emphasis we give as we grow in Christ to these truths [and many others], does not lessen the importance of those we are not emphasizing, but highlight the fact that we are simply incapable of grasping it all. The truth is that the only way that we could grasp it all would be if we were God, Himself. We need to rejoice in His greatness, not lament our limitations.

What is the takeaway from this?  
1. We get to know God deeper as we go through difficulty and problems of life, since they are the classroom in which we are to learn God’s nature and character as we study His Word.
2. As we have various seasons of life, childhood, youth, young adulthood, parenthood or singleness, older adulthood, and the various responsibilities and challenges that accompany each stage, we will have seasons in our spiritual growth and understanding.
3. We should not stop and focus on just one stage, but welcome other stages as they come. [Many times a new one will begin before the last reaches its end.]
4. We dare not look down on others who are going through other stages that we might have already gone through, but love and encourage them.
5. God is beyond our understanding, but He desires for us to get to know Him, trust Him and share this truth with others.

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