Tuesday, May 26, 2009

God's Pursuit of Man - Chapter 4 "Victory Through Defeat"

“The Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him.”

“The strength of our flesh is an ever present danger to our souls. Deliverance can come to us only by the defeat of our old life. Safety and peace come only after we have been forced to our knees. God rescues us by breaking us, by shattering our strength and wiping out our resistance. Then He invades our natures with that ancient and eternal life which is from the beginning. “

“For we teach men not to die with Christ but to live in the strength of their dying manhood. We boast not in our weakness but in our strength.”

“When He has overpowered our resistance He binds us with the cords of love and draws us to Himself. There, “faint with His loveliness” we live conquered and thank God again and again for the blessed conquest. There, with moral sanity restored, we lift up our eyes and bless the Most High God. Then we go forth in faith to apprehend that for which we were first apprehended of God.”

This has been an extremely difficult chapter to write about because to be honest, it’s a topic I don’t really understand that well. Even as a parent, this is an area I struggle in – the ability to break the flesh/sin nature of my child without breaking his spirit…. It’s a thought far beyond my understanding. Yet, here it is, yet another topic I don’t fully understand but I feel as though the Lord is speaking to me through. So let’s attempt to wade through this together, shall we?

It’s human nature to promote our strengths while downplaying or all together ignoring our weaknesses. But the truth is, God doesn’t work that way. God typically does not choose to use what we feel our strengths are but actually tends to use our weaknesses. It is through our weaknesses and brokenness that God can bring the most glory to Himself. It is when we are at our weakest point that we are most aware of our dependency on God.

When we are allowed to make it by on our own strength a dangerous level of self-trust and self-dependency tends to develop. Pride soon follows and we begin to look to ourselves as capable without help, without need of the Lord’s hand of blessing on our lives. Paul talks about this is 2 Corinthians 12, where he refers to the “thorn in his flesh” given to him to keep him from being too elated or boastful of the revelations given to him. Verse 10 says “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Though we fight and pray against weak and broken moments – regardless of how they may come – God has chosen to use these moments to change us, and grow us in Him. We have these moments as opportunities to take our weakness and turn them into a moment for Him to shine through us. Sadly, we don’t always take the opportunity – when tragedy strikes or conflicts arise, we sometimes choose to not accept it, to not allow God’s hand of blessing in a particular situation. We choose to hold it against God, ourselves or others in our lives. We blame, we get angry, we get bitter, maybe even try to get even.

Tozer uses the example of God wrestling with Jacob. All night Jacob wrestled a “man”, and when the dawn was near, the man placed his hand on the hip of Jacob, dislocating it. When Jacob realized he was defeated, he clung to the man demanding a blessing – it was then that Jacob’s name changed to Israel, and Jacob realized he was actually fighting the Lord. Jacob walked away with a limp from a dislocated hip, but He also walked away with a blessing from the Almighty. It was through an entire night of wrestling, and brokenness (literally in this case) that the Bible says of Jacob “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (Genesis 32:28) It was through Jacob’s weakness that he prevailed – not his strength.


Ashley Skye said...

This is one of those areas I sometimes like to just not talk about. As you said it is a very hard area. Growing up in the church this is not a new topic and this is one that in my weakest moments I even know to be true from experience it is so hard to break the flesh enough to ask God to work this way in my life. I know the blessings that can come from struggling (wrestling God all night) My fear comes in when I think am I strong enough to get through what I know to come next - or will I fail and walk away from it all?

Sometimes even to ask for something that seems to simple like patients or gentleness the thing that follows is situations that I KNOW I cannot be patient in - I am tried and tried again this is where I know I am to lean on God and continue my prayer but my fear of failure makes me hesitate before even asking.

Thank you for sharing this it is a strength to be reminded these are things many people struggle with in different ways.

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