From Streams of the Desert: June 6
"Reckon it nothing but joy...whenever you find yourself hedged in by the various trials, be assured that the testing of your faith leads to power of endurance" (James 1:2-3) Weymouth
God hedges in His own that He may preserve them, but oftentimes they only see the wrong side of the hedge, and so misunderstand His dealings.
It was so with Job (Job 3:23). Ah, but Satan knew the value of that hedge! See his testimony in chapter 1:10. Through the leaves of every trial there are chinks of light to shine through. Thorns do not prick you unless you lean against them, and not one touches without His knowledge.
The words that hurt you, the letter which gave you pain, the cruel wound of your dearest friend, shortness of money--are all known to Him, who sympathizes as none else can and watches to see, if, through all, you will dare to trust Him wholly"
I have found myself deeply entrenched in the Book of Hebrews, reflecting on the call of the author to "Consider Jesus" and to "Hold Fast" to the faith. We must "consider Jesus"--the one of foremost importance, the Son appointed Lord and King, who calls us brothers and sisters, promising that He is there to help us in our time of testing, because of His own testing. A testing that included profound suffering, which He was called to on our behalf. It is this suffering that oftentimes we fail to fully consider; the Testing that Jesus obediently suffered for us. Therefore, He does understand our pain, our struggles and our weaknesses, and He calls us to the one thing that can motivate and empower us through these trials--faith.
This is where "Hold Fast" comes in. A faithful heart, empowered by the Holy Spirit, can overcome any obstacle--even moving a mountain! Yet, as the author of this Streams devotion shares, it is somewhat of a "dare" to completely put your faith in Christ, particularly as you "consider" all that He suffered, which is described as being "perfected". Suffering perfects? What are we do do with this realization? In the times of trial and storms, the author of Hebrews is calling us to hold fast to Jesus, in light of our consideration of Him. Jesus was somehow perfect in His suffering, therefore, as our example, Jesus is seeking to make us perfect through our suffering as well. His goal is to make us perfect, as He was perfect. If that is not a challenging statement, I am not sure what it is! I love C.S. Lewis' statement from Mere Christianity where he describes that God is desiring to make us into "little Christ's". To be shaped into "little Christ's" involves possessing that which Jesus possesses--indeed, His powerful healing, mind-jarring compassion and love, and unequaled mercy and grace are all aspects of Him that He desires to give us, his brothers and sisters, however, are we prepared to drink of His cup of suffering, as well?
"Hold Fast X 2". My final point today rests on the other aspect of spiritual formation that the author of Hebrews is emphatic about--"holding fast" cannot happen in a vacuum. "Holding fast" can only happen in community--with other human brothers and sisters in Christ, who can hold us up when we fall, hold us back when we are too impulsive, hold us down when we seek to do harm and to remind us, and them, to "hold fast" to our faith in Christ in all circumstances. Christianity cannot exist independent of this God-given, Spirit-filled, experience of community--otherwise known as the Church. In my angst with the Church, as we all have experienced, I have often been reminded by my Lord Jesus that he loves His Church. If He loves His Church, then aren't I supposed to as well? If Jesus is my Lord, then I desire to do His Will. Jesus is Lord of my life--is He Lord of yours?