How Does it Feel to be Human? God Will Tell You…
When I look at the picture above I am overwhelmed by the utter beauty of the world these women are in, which is so serenely contrasted against the simplicity of such a mundane chore as washing clothes. And how much fun do you think I could have doing that? Just put me on that rock in my bathing suit any day and let me whack some wet clothes in the river. It’s too simple, and I’d have too much fun doing it. Trust me, I’d be just fine. How pristine is that? Compared to the push button world I live in, it appears to be like a bit of bliss. As for those women? Don’t you know they’d probably do anything for a modest washer and dryer.
So, where is this going? I want to talk with you for a moment about life and how certain parts can be lining up perfectly. Everything is circulating. Everything is like a well-oiled machine. Things are going well. God is moving, and you’re walking in His blessing. It’s good! You can genuinely say this part of your life is coming out on top. And yet there are other part(s) which simultaneously seem to be in the proverbial ditch. You need a digging out (in Jesus’ terms). The ox is in the ditch. Things are not circulating. They’re not going well or right. Sometimes they’re not going at all. They’re very stagnant and perhaps even defeating you. I think we can all relate to this phenomena. How often is it that you can truly say every part of your life is going well? I’ll let you answer that question.
And then lets put this in the context of your spiritual life. Because the same phenomena overlaps the banks of our temporal world affecting our spiritual one. So here’s my next question: Is there a part of your life right now that is not lining up? Perhaps everything is on target except this one area where you are constantly struggling. Is that something you can relate to right now? Do you feel like the women in the picture who are in this gorgeous and pristine place — but they are slapping their laundry on rocks? Do you know what I mean?
If you do… well, this post is for you.
Wifi & Cyberspace
Welcome to the push-button, microwave world that revolves on wifi and cycles in cyberspace. That does not translate spiritually folks. It’s not that easy or calculated. Walking in the Spirit is deliberate. It doesn’t happen by accident or default. You must purpose it. You must choose it. And even when you do, there are going to be outliers in your life that overwhelm your norm. They are the constants that keep pulling you in the ditch. How is it that we can have lives that really are so successful, and yet we struggle with this one area that keeps us pandering?
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world, (John 16:33, KJV).
Christ never promised a life of ease. In fact, He revealed to His followers how much suffering they would endure for His sake, and He gifted them with the joy and peace of suffering for Him and bearing His marks in their body like trophies of war.
Part of being human is realizing that there will always be more to overcome. There will always be higher ground to take. There will always be more to seize from the enemy of our souls as we progress in maturity in Christ. There are seasons of rest when things slow down and the dust settles. But for all the plateaus and plains of our spiritual walk, there will also be mountains and valleys.
Things can seem very contrasted. In the words of my dear friend: “It’s an adventure!”
Ponder that for a moment. And I laugh at how she said it so deliberately — so infused with energy and fun-spirited glee — and how sincere she was. It is indeed an adventure! Following Christ is fun…
Following the All-Sufficient One
Don’t despair when you find yourself in this pristine place of beauty slapping your laundry on rocks. There will be areas of your life that seem almost perfect, while there are others of extraordinary struggle. You can be on the mountain in one area, and in the pit in another — at the same time. This is the human dichotomy in life that keeps us ever dependent upon Christ, and ever humble as His followers. He intended it to be this way. He never intended it to be easy. We are supposed to need Him. We are children in our Father’s world. We are in constant need of Him for our every provision. Don’t ever fool yourself in thinking you’re managing this by yourself. You’re not. Life is not a game of solitaire. It’s more like chess on steroids. We all need God, and we all need each other. None of us are an island unto ourselves.
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead, (Philippians 3:7-11, KJV).
When Christ called us to follow Him, He wasn’t alluding to a physical place. He was talking about becoming a follower — that is someone who is intimately and sacrificially yielded to Him in every area of life; in every facet of their being; with everything of monetary value in this temporal world.
At the times in my life when I’ve needed His direction the most, sometimes He was most silent. His solution was simple: “Follow Me”. Now all of us know that is not the answer we want, right? But that is the answer we sometimes get. This answer is strangely sufficient. It plunges us into the flood where He becomes our breath. It puts us in the fire where He purges us. It forces us into a reckoning with these areas in life — these outliers that keep us down — these things that continually remind us:
This is not your world.
You live in your Father’s world.
You need God… for everything.
When Christ came to earth, He claimed no immunity as King. Those things that plague us plagued Him as well. He experienced the temptations, frustrations, persecutions and heartbreak that accompany being human. And this is what He said:
These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me, (John 15:17-21, KJV).
When we carefully look at Christ’s life here on earth, there were things that didn’t go as planned. His navigation system always defaulted to dependency on His Father. We will find that He was putting out fires and pulling the proverbial ox out of the ditch on a consistent basis. And I laugh, because on more than one occasion His own disciples were the causative factor. Christ demonstrated utter dependency on His Father for absolutely everything He said and did. He confessed that Himself very openly (see John 10). Yet He performed God’s perfect will on earth despite the imperfections and obstacles this world presented to Him. He overcame. Those areas of contest actually served Him very well in providing an opportunity to reveal His Father’s glory to a lost and dying world. Essentially, they were His platform.
Likewise, I am reminded every single day in some form or fashion that the incongruent areas of my life serve me very well in remembering:
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple, (Luke 14:26, 27, & 33, KJV).
Christ demonstrated what it is like to be fully God… and fully human. He is both the Son of God and the Son of Man. He overcame the world. He overcame sin, Satan, death, hell and the grave. He did it all. He fulfilled it all, and made us sons and daughters of God — who should go and do likewise.
Bring heaven to earth. Climb the mountain. Calm the storm. Walk on the water. Put out the fire. Pull the ox out of the ditch. Heal the sick. Raise the dead. Die so you may live.
And when you’re in this gorgeous place slapping your laundry on rocks in a river, just remember your platform… This is your Father’s world, and this is what it’s like to be human.
Enjoy the adventure. You do not journey alone.
Cheers & Shalom,