I would like to share a little illustration that I came up with a few years ago, and it is illustrated in The Journey, our discipleship curriculum.   It pertains to a “cause and effect” process in spiritual growth.  I bring this to your attention, for Greg Huett our Global Board member did an excellent job this morning with sharing how challenging times in his life have driven him closer to Christ.  In fact, what he shared is consistent with the way spiritual growth works in a man.  It has been true in my life, it has been true in the lives of many men I know, and it is true throughout the formation of the Church.  The fact is God whispers to us in our mountain top experiences, but He shouts to us in our pain.  Why is this?  I think it is because He has our greatest attention, and He can download to us things more clearly, and they are received more readily.  Look at the following illustration first, so I can make my points:

 

A trial or test provides stretching

This stretching provides a new capacity to receive

 

The greater capacity to receive provides a fresh hunger to fill

The fresh hunger to fill provides a new pursuit to find

The new pursuit to find provides new discoveries to seek

The new discoveries found provide a greater knowledge of God

A greater knowledge of God provides the source of our need

To have our need provided provides a deeper intimacy with God

A deeper intimacy with God

 

It is the Treasure He wants to give us.

 

Have you ever considered that the reason God allows trials, or tribulations, or disappointments, or bad things to come to our life is because He can see how it will lead to a special blessing that we could not have received otherwise?  How can we know this is true?  Well to answer this we have to understand God’s character, His good intentions, His detailed involvement in the lives of His children, and His great love for us.  If we do not know these things about God, then we will have a hard time understanding the process He allows in our life.  If we do not understand and believe this we will be afraid and a feeling that our life is out of control, and especially His control.  If we feel that things must always be good for us to have God’s finger print on it, we will not grow, nor will we see the truth of what is required for growth.  We must understand and believe that even in our trials God is in control, and has a plan.  But God takes a long, patient view of us, and we have to be patient as well. 

 

If God is preparing us for something better than our present life, and it will serve His purposes better than we are serving Him presently, do not be surprised that a trial will be part of the process for preparing us.  The trial is not the purpose.  However, it does become our focus, which it doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be.  A trial is only a delivery system for greater things for our life.  How can we know this?  Look at scriptures that frequently point it out, and how this process is seen in the history of most people who have been greatly used by God.  It is simply the way spiritual growth works.  Greg pointed this out.  

 

I have seen it in my own life and others that trials consistently precede great fruit bearing.  Call it pruning, or call it sifting.  Call it a furnace or a crucible.  Call it a hammer, chisel, file or a thorn in the flesh.  Whatever you call it, the results are the same.  Our lives are reformed into a conduit of blessings so that God All Mighty can pour through our life to our world around us. 

 

The Treasure at the end of a trial is the Lord Himself.  We are ushered into a deeper intimacy with Him.  The fruit that comes from this is His work reaching other people with our distinct giftedness, whatever that might be.  I have seen His work in many lives.  I see many tears, and many fears be overwhelmed by the growing intimacy that a man has with Christ, when he leans heavily into Him during a trial.  By in large I have always heard these men tell me that the challenges were well worth it, because of what they found in those trials.  And by the way?  They also tell me that God has always delivered them through the trials, and this makes them fear less when another trial comes their way.  This is where theory is replaced with experience, and this is the reason for a trial.  We need the experience with seeing what God will do, and so we can share this truth with others.

 

I am seeing God raise up mighty, courageous men and women who are serving Him in greater ways.  He is assembling an army of these men and women, for the times we are in.  Perhaps you are being invited to join this army?  If so, a trial may very well be His instrument for preparing you for it.  Let Him have His way.  You will come to see that He knows what He was doing, and you will thank Him for it.

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