#9.4 – The Wisdom of Suffering [James 1:1-18]: A Testimony
I got up…
As if for the first time. And the only thing sustaining me was the words of my Lord. “Apart from me you can do Nothing.” His words invoked within me one response: I am Nothing. My existence was put into perspective. The correct perspective. One that we all know theoretically and even acknowledge cognitively, yet in many ways are unable to live out in reality.
Truthfully, I had asked to have this perspective for many years. I had prayed many times, “Lord, I want to know you. I want to know you for who you really are. Show me the truth. Do whatever it takes.”
You see, I understood many of the spiritual concepts in my mind. I had read the bible many times, yet, not much of it was real to me. No amount of study or thought had given me the life that Jesus speaks of. The life that He lived and promised to all those who truly follow him. And to be honest, that irritated me. I went to every type of prayer meeting, and every type of church service. I read all kinds of books and listened to countless sermons. I sang all the songs, and went through all the motions. But none of it gave me the Lord. His life. His peace. His person. I was always left wanting. And it pissed me off. I could not understand why. I followed and did as every other churched Christian did, but none of it worked. None of it gave me the Lord. In fact, it just drew me further away. Like a fleeting desire, that I could see, but never have. It was torture. All the conferences, the programmes, the services, the duties, the 7 step models, etc etc etc. None of it gave me the Lord. It just gave me a bunch of obligations to fulfil and people to please. I had had enough.
And the Lord knew that. Fortunately, He knows me very well. Better than I can ever hope to. And in His great wisdom, He allowed me to try and get to Him on my own. To try and fulfil all the institutional church’s obligations, programmes, and rules. He gave me an opportunity to see the system for what it is. Just another form of Religion. One cloaked with promises of power and prosperity. And some, even cloaked with promises of intimacy with Him. A system designed to control. A system much less obvious than the one the Egyptians used to enslave the Israelites. One designed around ‘serving God.’ One that I will go into more detail about in my next series.
“Abide in ME,” he said. “Not in people or programmes Dylan. Abide in ME, and me alone.”
He had removed everything that I had abided in. Every vocational practice that gave me purpose and meaning. Every weekly church meeting that gave me spiritual routine. Every obligation that ticked off the “serving God and man To-Do-List” in my brain. He had even removed every peer, leader, and boss that facilitated those obligations. Everything. It was all gone. He had taken it all away. And for one magnificent reason. So that I might Abide in Him, and Him alone.
My journey since then, has been discovering what that means. And what a journey it has been. And even though it has been a journey of much suffering, it is one that I thank God for every day. One that I am still only at the beginning of. One that will take an eternity to complete. A journey I would encourage every person to take. For it is a journey into the uncharted depths of knowing Christ as your very life. A journey that I hope to share with you in more depth in my next series.
Till then, may we all abide deeper in Christ, and learn more fully what it means to live by His life, and His life alone.
[I highly recommend the following 45 minute message by Frank Viola. I deeply respect and have learnt much from him over the last year as I have journeyed towards Christ, and wrestled with what it means to live by Him, and Him alone. This message should give you more insight into living by the life of Christ.
Right click on this link Frank Viola - Canada2_2009 and then click "save link as" to download.]