“When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God” (Proverbs 14:32).
I am not writing as much lately. As I wrote previously I am devoting more time to studying scripture, listening, and prayer, and less time to writing and sharing, but I am finding containing my witness entirely to be impossible. Maybe it’s like that song I sang in church as a child, “Put it under a bushel… No! I’m going to let it shine…”.
I read a little today about early Christians in Rome, specifically about how they were depicted by their Pagan counterparts. I read that early Christians were described as those who believed a Jewish man by the name of Jesus had risen from the dead and was the Savior for their sins, and these believers shared their beliefs with others and that innocent act often got them, not to mention their loved ones, killed, yet they kept sharing and sharing their beliefs. What a world in which these people lived; the immense pressure they must have endured for their love of Christ, and what a powerful witness their actions must have been to non-Christians at the time. Brings to my mind 2 Corinthians 4:8-9: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” These early followers of Christ must have realized that God was with them even unto death and beyond. “When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God” (Proverbs 14:32).
God is amazing! As I was praying for guidance yesterday morning in church, Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus came to me, literally, in a flash. It felt as though the Word poured into my heart like a tidal wave in what by my perception seemed instantaneous. I’m still unpacking, and honestly, still in awe. And God changed my thinking about something right then and there. I’m not going to get into God’s message to me here, but I do want to share the scripture, because in His encounter with Nicodemus, Jesus spoke of great and mighty things that no doubt will speak to many. Not just me.
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God (John 3:1-21).
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). I walked into church that morning with a strong opinion about a particular issue, and I kid you not, in an instant, God changed my mind. It was like He reached into my brain and set something that had fallen over upright; I am just trying to come up with a half way decent description. The hardest part, for me, has been that His answer to my question defies reason, and actually from a human standpoint, probably seems pretty reckless, maybe even selfish. I really can’t explain it, but I do know my Father’s voice, and that’s enough for me. I pray that all my brothers and sisters in Christ might have ears to hear Him too. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:17-18).
I also got a glimpse of something in the spiritual that saddened me, but I am going to keep that vision to myself, at least for now. As I wrote, I don’t want to put my light under a bushel, but I feel less moved to share the things God reveals to me. People tend to be hard headed and stiff necked, myself included, maybe we should all learn our lessons the hard way. No doubt there’s some pride and bruised ego (making it about me and forgetting it is really all God) lurking about within me… but then I remember that many of these same people, also like me, have kind and loving hearts and are just trying to do what seems right to them… so, all the more reason, I figure, to embrace a season of scripture, listening, and prayer, and see where the Spirit leads. “If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you” (Matthew 10:13).
Finally, a nice thing about writing a blog about my witness is that it’s okay to share when my witness gets a little messy; this is one of the few outlets I have where I feel free to be transparent and truly genuine without pretense. What a heavy burden it is that comes with pretension. I still have so much more to learn and so much more growing to do.
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