MY JOURNEY INTO DARKNESS. As of late, when people ask me, “How is life”, I answer, “Life is hard, but God is good.” There is nothing worse, in my opinion, than going through hard times and not having a clue as to why. There are all kinds of cliche’s that are meant to make us feel good about bad experiences, we all need more than a cliche’.
Sometimes we do not understand difficulties in life, because we are not willing to accept the things that God wants to change in us. Of course these things are for those whom God calls His children, those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:7, 8)
The year was 1981, and I was about to enter a time of testing, the likes of which would be more difficult than anything faced by me up to that point. We decided to join a foreign mission, which in turn decided to hand us over to another mission, about which we knew nothing. There policy became abundantly clear from the beginning. They did not permit missionaries to act with any authority that is granted to a pastor, if the prospective male missionary or his spouse had been married before. Since my wife had been married before, that left me unable to function according to God’s call, as I understood it.
In one moment, when talking with one of the board members, I went from forgiven for all my sins, and placed on a path to serve God, to unforgiven, and unable to serve in any leadership capacity. The darkness of night fell upon my soul, and I no longer felt loved by men or God.
The scriptural qualifications as understood by the mission board was (1 Timothy 3:7, 8), “An overseer (Pastor), then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife…” In the Greek it actually reads, “An overseer, then, must be above reproach, a one woman man.” A man can be married for 75 years and never be faithful to his wife in his heart. The point to all the qualifications is the character of the one who is to lead the flock of God.
In all honesty, this turn of events placed me into a tale spin, that took two years to run it’s course, and even longer to decipher. The turning point came when standing over my Bible, and seeing it covered with dust, I became convicted of my rebellious attitude. I hadn’t done anything sinful in practice, but I had stumbled seriously in my spirit. Opening my Bible the words of Samson came to the forefront.
With the jawbone of a donkey the prophet slew a thousand men. As you might expect he became a little thirsty. His reply, however, was something less than God honoring, and heaped with pride. “You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant, and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” (Judges 15:18) What Samson meant was not so pretty, “Have I done this great thing for you, and is this the way you treat me?” I saw myself in the Bible, and in a very ugly light. This is what James meant when he penned scripture,
“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.” (James 1:22-24)
God intended the entire set of circumstances to humble me, and make me see that to serve Him, I must be willing to be treated badly, disrespected, dishonored, and even ignored. When we are treated that way as Christians, we walk in our masters steps, who went to the cross on our behalf. In fact, if we receive what we deserve, as in before we were saved, we would go to hell forever.
At the end of the Samson story, he loses his eyes and his strength. A wonderful picture of his dying to those things that caused him to stumble greatly in his life. However, in time he regained his strength and brought the house down upon the heads of his enemies. These words are then recorded, “So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.” Reading these words, it was as though God said to me, “If you want to serve me, you will have to be willing to die to your proud flesh, and your own dreams for your life.”
Henceforth, that has become a way of life for me. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! I have seen much by way of leading others to follow Christ in a more humble manner. I have received honor and appreciation from men who want to sincerely be more like Christ. However, there has always been a death to my own personal dreams. So it should be!
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