Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Harsh Test of Reality

I had a time where God was constantly showing me and teaching me new things on a daily basis. It was so much, it was almost overwhelming trying to absorb all of it. It was easy, it was like God was just pouring a bucket of knowledge on my head, and I had no choice but to receive it. And then one day it just seemed to stop. 

This time was very difficult for me. I was confused, and I couldn't figure out why I wasn't feeling that enormous amount of growth anymore. Now that I look back on that time, I know why I went through it. In that overwhelming time of growth, God was sanctifying my life. I think for the first in my life, that was the moment I was truly ready to let God mold me. I love the word sanctify. It means to "set apart as or declare holy; consecrate." As soon as my heart was in that right place, God poured into my life. 

All of that knowledge, all of this sanctification hadn't turned into a change in my life yet. While God was pouring into my new life, my old life was still sitting dormant right behind me. Amidst all the the work God was doing in my life, I had simply forgotten about the old. Out of sight, out of mind I suppose. 

We can all agree to the irresistible attraction to Jesus when He's noticeably working in our lives. During this time of huge growth, I had no interest in the sins of my old life. However, as soon as I started feeling this new season of spiritual quiet, I came to an interesting crossroad. Now that Jesus had revealed so much to me, my eyes had opened, and I knew I would never see life the same again. My whole worldview had radically changed. I felt the conviction to continue to pursue this new life with Christ. On the other hand, in the quiet season, I felt like I could almost literally look back and see my old life behind me. It was sinful, and I knew it was wrong, but to be completely honest, my old sinful life was comfortable, easy to live, and it just felt good. The instant gratification on sin is always attractive. 

This quiet season of my life came directly after the season of sanctification. This was the time when my faith was tested in reality. This was the time where I had to choose how I was going to live my life. And there was no room for gray. God opened my eyes and showed me what it would be like living completely for Him, and I loved that. But in my heart I knew what I had to give up to live the true Christian life. And I had to make a decision between this new life with Christ, or my old sinful life.  

A good biblical example of this is the story of Peter. During his time with Jesus, he told him "... I will lay down my life for you." (John 13:37). His love for Jesus was very real, and I believe that he was very genuine with this statement. In the garden, he even tried defending Jesus and knifed the high priest's servant and cut off his ear. But after Jesus' crucifixion, Peter denied Jesus three times. During his time with Jesus, Peter felt that irresistible attraction. But after his death, Peter experienced the harsh test of reality. But in John 21:15-19, Jesus forgives Peter and "reinstates" him. And the Bible indicates that Peter was a faithful man to the end, and ultimately died for Christ. 

This season of quiet was a priceless experience for me. If God had continued to pour out all of His blessings on me, I don't think my faith would have ever been real. Now I absolutely know that I am following God's will. There are definitely times where I struggle, and times where my old life attacks me, but Jesus is my source of energy and renewal, and He helps me through those trials. The hard times are what makes us who we are. Now I can look back and truly appreciate what He has done for me. 

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