Sometimes God shows up when you least expect it. Take Sunday for instance. I preach in series. Everyone knows that. I had just finished "Paranormal" and was preparing for the next "f.Y.I." Working toward Easter I realized there was a stray Sunday where series and messages left a gap between the two. It just happened to be February 14th, Valentines Day. Knowing that Valentines Day rarely occurs on Sunday I figured it would be a good place to put together a message about love and committment. So you see, my decision making was more practical than spiritual. It wasn't a throw away Sunday by any means. I take every message seriously. How God showed up, however, took me by surprise. Not only were people weeping during the message, but their tears filled the altar afterwards as well. God knew all along people were hurting even when I couldn't see any further than the end of my nose.
I have been reading about people and pain. I have been focusing on people who suffer because of their faith and their devotion toward the Lord. I thought this might help some of you.
Near the end of the 16th century, a Spanish monk, St. John of the Cross was imprisoned for supporting reforms to the Catholic Church. He was only 35. He was locked in a tiny closet that doubled as a room to put human waste. He was taken out only to be flogged for the enjoyment of other monks at their dinner time. He was starving and becoming seriously ill because of his conditions. In his darkest hour he felt compelled to write love songs to God. His guards were so moved by his words that they began to smuggle pen and paper so he could record these songs. After nine months, John escaped from the tiny prison.
He went on to write of his experience in a book called "The Dark Night of the Soul." Here is part of what he wrote: "When spiritual beginners are going about their spiritual practices with the greatest emthusiasm and pleasure and it seems to them that the sun of divine favor is shining most brightly upon them, God suddenly darkens all that light. He slams the door shut. He cuts off the source of their spiritual waters they had been drinking from..."
"Left in such a dry place, not only do they find no satisfaction in their reliable old spiritual practices, but these things actually become tasteless, even bitter.... He weans them from their dependencey on the breast so that they can become strong. He lays aside their baby clothes and sets them down from His arms so that they can learn to walk on their own two feet."
How cruel a baby must think a parent has become when they let go of their hands and bid them come to them on their own two feet. How certain is the initial crash to the floor. Instead of carrying us from that day forward, the parent picks the child up and sets them off on their own again. Always the parent compels the child to walk into their arms and not away. So it is with God. He wants us to grow. He wants us to take steps of faith. It may seem cruel but in reality He is forcing us to walk toward Him. Faith is knowing that He is there even when we fall. The devil will try and tell you that your Father has left you alone. That is a lie. That is never the case. He always has His eyes on you even when you take your eyes off Him.
Matthew 14:28-31 (NKJV)
28 And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."
29 So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"
31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"