CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
By Rosemary Cross
Sometimes we can follow God's instruction to a T, pray faithfully, and watch as God answers our deepest desires — just to watch it all fall apart. It can feel like God is abandoning us, but I can assure you that God does not play games, neither does He ever reject any of His children. The Bible makes this clear in Lamentations 3:32-33 when it says "Although God gives him (man) grief, yet He will show compassion too, according to the greatness of his loving-kindness. For He does not enjoy afflicting men and causing sorrow." It causes grief to any parent, God included, to allow any one of His children to suffer pain, yet those who belong to the family of God must go through occasional trials or we will not mature and learn wisdom (Hebrews 5:12-13). Even so, our Heavenly Father will never abandon us.
It can even feel like God hates us. Does He? The answer is an absolute, plain NO! Certainly He could if He wanted to because He is God and He can do anything, but He is both a loving father and love itself, and nothing we do will ever make Him hate us. He hates the sin we fall into with all His heart, but never us ourselves.
When Jesus was speaking for the last time to His disciples at the Last Supper, He was deeply concerned about their grief at losing Him and their apprehension at the thought of being left on their own. To help them and to give them hope in this sad situation, He promised to send in His place a wonderful being He called "The Comforter" (John 14:16-17) who is no less than the Holy Spirit of God. Furthermore, the presence of this Spirit was not only His gift to them, but to all those who would love and follow Him down through the ages until the present day. The Holy Spirit is at our shoulders always, doing His best to direct and guide us, but the important thing is that He can work much more effectively if we realize He also lives inside us, alongside our own human spirits. And then pray that we can hear Him more clearly and be much more sensitive to His nudges when He wants to guide us, show us the way when we are perplexed about what action to take, and either check or encourage our decisions or behavior.
I can give you a personal example of knowing when the Spirit said "NO!" Thirty-seven years ago my daughter's life was saved by this indwelling Spirit whom I had asked only a few days before to come and live within and show me the way on my pilgrimage through life. My husband and I had only just brought our baby daughter home from the hospital where she had been born prematurely and suffered from a bad attack of jaundice. She was just a tiny, fragile little thing who needed a lot of care and attention, and as newborn babies can feel insecure if they are not somewhere where they can feel enclosed, I had been putting her down to sleep in her pram at the foot of our bed rather than in her big, spacious cot which was in the room next door. On this particular day I had given her her midday feed and was preparing to put her in her pram for her afternoon nap. As I carried her towards the bedroom I suddenly sensed a voice from within saying urgently that I must not put her in her pram this time but in her cot in the next room. Of course my immediate thought was that I was suffering from an over-active imagination, and I carried on regardless. However, as I approached her pram the voice became more and more insistent, and I realized that it was not imagination, but that the Holy Spirit was speaking. Obviously He had good reason for this message He was conveying so urgently so I decided to be obedient, and I changed course and tucked the baby up in her cot. To my surprise she immediately went peacefully off to sleep.
I had only just closed the door on her when a tremendous bang came from the bedroom where the pram was. When I rushed in I found a large hole in the ceiling, and filling the pram was a chunk of plaster the size of a small boulder which would have killed the baby instantly. Then I heard a thunderous knock at our door and I opened it to see a white-faced builder standing there. Apparently the very young apprentice who was doing some work with him in the flat upstairs had balanced a huge canister of calor [propane] gas on the top of a step-ladder, and it had inevitably overbalanced and pitched to the floor.
Even now, thirty-seven years later, I look at our beautiful daughter, full of fun and laughter, loving the Lord and living out her happy and fulfilled life, and I am filled all over again with a sense of awe and overwhelming thanksgiving at the way the Holy Spirit intervened to save her life. During those years I have had many, many other experiences of His loving care, and I love His delight in variety. I have heard or seen His messages in all sorts of different ways when I needed to hear from God, from the still, small voice of my indwelling guest to something said by a friend (who had no idea at the time that she was being His instrument), a phrase painted on a dirty brick wall and even some words on the back of a tee-shirt! Each time, as ordinary and unimportant as the message would seem to a non-believer, an accompanying nudge and a sharpened awareness told me the Spirit was speaking and that I needed to pay attention! The Spirit also knows how to rap my knuckles if He disapproves of something I am doing, and if I don't back off immediately His stern silence is a true penance to have to live with.
If you were to find somewhere quiet, and then simply invite Him to help and guide you as you seek God's will for you, this is an invitation that the Spirit will never refuse. You will start to sense His presence at once, and just as a baby learns to recognize his parents' voices, so you will learn to recognize His. As you learn to trust this indwelling guest, you will begin to recognize what He is saying. You will be amazed at the changes that begin to take place within you and in your life under His divine guidance. You will make mistakes sometimes in interpreting His messages, but just like a loving parent He knows how to put you right. You will soon get to know when the Spirit is saying "yes," "wait," or just plain "no," and as He can see so much further ahead than you then you can always trust Him for the right answer, even if it is not the answer you want. Waiting can be frustrating at times if that is His response, but it will help just to recite to yourself at these times the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 123:1-2: "I lift my eyes to You, the One enthroned in heaven. Like a servant's eyes on his master's hand, like a servant girl's eyes on her mistress's hand, so our eyes are on the Lord our God until He shows us favor." These words have helped me time and again to have patience while waiting for God's answer in His perfect timing.
The last thing is the hardest: thank God even for His work that hurt in the moment. He can see so much further into the future than we can, and if we are willing to put His will for us first we'll be amazed by how He takes care of us. If you will just "let go and let God" and allow the Holy Spirit in so that He can direct the way you should go you will find that in the end all will be well.
Image Credit: makunin; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Hardships | Personal-Life
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Published on 9-14-16