As surely as many in the Body of Christ
are feeling overwhelmed by what they are going through, there are at
least as many who are feeling decidedly underwhelmed. The pain of
hopes being raised only to see them being dashed again can be a
source of the most profound and paralysing grief. This is roughly
what I experienced in the aftermath of the break-up of our team.
Sometimes it is our expectations that
make it hard for us to endure such discipline. If we have been led
to believe that everything we do for the Lord ought to grow and
expand, we are almost certain to experience considerable desolation
when everything appears to go into reverse. Will we still trust the
Lord when the very opposite of all that we had hoped for appears to
I named one of the chapters in
Ravens and the Prophet “Shrinking Brooks,” after Elijah’s
extraordinary sojourn in the Cherith ravine. As the drought he had
called into being took effect and bit ever more deeply, the prophet
had the unnerving experience of watching the water levels of the
brook that sustained him dwindling from day to day. But have you not
noticed how the Lord often seems to allows us to watch a particular
source drying up before He shows us what He is going to do next?
Before God sends His deliverance, we need to have the crisis first!
Mike Breen explains,
you want to get to a high mountaintop, you have to
be prepared for a journey that takes you through a
deep valley first. Watch for leaders who walk with a
Before she became a well
known author, Catherine Marshall describes the immense
difficulties she had in adjusting to full-time bed rest
during her battle with tuberculosis.
first three months were the worst. Every muscle in
my body ached in protest against too much bed rest.
The minutes held their breath; the hours dragged
their feet. Every inner resource available had to be
mustered to fill those days . . . All of life looks
different when viewed from the horizontal
Catherine went on to describe
how the Lord helped her to use the time profitably. As
others have discovered, however, she found it equally as
challenging when the time came to reintegrate back into
vertically upright life again!
Many of us share the grief of our
loved ones as their bodily functions decline, and little by little
the frontiers of their world shrink. Since nobody relishes the
thought of no longer being self-sufficient, why be surprised if they
react with frustration when they find themselves unable to do
certain things any longer?
Quite apart from reduced physical
abilities, much of the grief associated with the aging process stems
from the lack of interest people show in their wisdom and
experience. If fewer opportunities come their way – or they lack the
wherewithal to respond to those that do, it takes a generous and
unselfish spirit to respond graciously and prayerfully.
Mike Field tells me that when Eva
Parker, a seasoned missionary, returned home from China with
terminal cancer she found the pain was so intense that she was often
more aware of the absence of God than of His presence. Despite this,
Concentrated reality is a potent challenge as
horizons start coming closer, but David expresses
his response – “by my God I can leap over a wall” .
The God of eternity and the singing springing spaces
ask us to leap, by faith, into the broader realms of
His reality; mortality is merely the necessary
springboard for that leap.
Physical death is just a hinge or a hiccough; a door
labelled “greater opportunities” and “more
adventure”; a breaking through at last of the
tantalisingly thin curtain which has hitherto kept
“there” from “here”. . .