Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Long Journey For Broken Hearts

When I write or share from a personal testimony of walking with God through anything I have faced, it is as someone who is a member of the family of God, with distinctive experiences that could give hope and encouragement to other members of God’s family going through similar things.

I never share these thinking they are for everybody, or that they will have mass-appeal. Neither do I try to communicate that the distinctive aspects of my journey give me something so unique that I am some kind of authority on how everyone should live, or how their walk with God should develop.

God’s word is clear in both our common relationship with God as beloved children who have the exact same standing with him for the exact same reason, the power of the gospel that is for the salvation of all who believe,[1] and God’s word makes clear our individual place in the family of God where we are unique members of the body of Christ with distinctive gifts and functions that help the whole body grow to maturity in Christ.[2]

Although I consistently have wonderful things to share from God’s word, I never want to come across as though I have found some new secret message of Scripture that no one has ever been able to discover before. Rather, I share them as something God has ministered to my heart in a way I have never seen it or felt it before,[3] and I want my testimony of such things to touch the hearts of others who need the same understanding of God’s word to get them through whatever they are facing at the moment.

Of course, a lot of my sharing of these things isn’t focused on the immediate insight or treasure I have found, but on the fact that every child of God would experience the same fellowship with God through his word and his Spirit and I would love to see everyone having a daily time in God’s word and prayer to dig from the quarry of the mind of Christ whatever treasures of wisdom and knowledge our Father would like to share with us on any given day.

In this sharing I want to bring together two things, not as though they apply to every person whose heart is seeking after Jesus, but as though they apply to other people like me, people who need to know the distinctive ministry God has for them as expressed through his personal and customized ministry through another member of the body of Christ.

One half of the bull’s eye of our focus is the distinctive need of those amongst God’s children, or the orphans looking with wonder into God’s adopting home, who constantly struggle with a broken heart. For many people, such a condition underlies and influences everything else they do in life, including their efforts to get to know God and find a safe place in his family. This is familiar territory for me, so I hope this comes across to you as a friend who has shared enough of the journey to encourage you with the hope of God’s love and care for people like us.

The other half of the bull’s eye is the characteristic of a long journey. In our world of drive-thru windows and instant text-messaging, anything that takes a long time is becoming increasingly abhorrent. Even marriage as a long-time journey between a husband and wife is being replaced by live-in blips in the radar of life that end as soon as people are no longer having fun.

However, the God of eternity knows what it is like to live outside of time, and to take his time to lead us through the journey of change that not only “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds,”[4] but brings us into a relationship with Jesus Christ where his joy “may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”[5]His work in us will last forever, so it is no surprise that he works so strategically, and over such a long time, to make truly lasting changes in our lives.

I recall seasons in my life where I felt like I had already been a long time going through a particularly difficult struggle with life, and had no way of knowing whether I was even at the halfway point, let alone nearing the end of the valley. Many times I felt like a certain highway near our town where the climb through the mountains seemed to take so long that I’m always sure that next bend in the road must be the summit, only to round the bend and see it curves back to another bend higher up the mountainside (which is never the last one either!). If you’re going through something that connects with the “broken hearts” description, and leaves you with no bearings for how far along you are in the journey, I know what that feels like. I can also testify to the value of walking with God every step of the way.

As I now have around five decades of growing in my relationship with God, I have gained significant testimony of how some of my long journeys have come to a joyful and praiseworthy end, while deeper issues of relationship with God continue on in that lifetime work of God where we “are being transformed into the same image (as Jesus) from one degree of glory to another.”[6] While God is exceptionally gracious to describe the changes in my life as increasing degrees of glory, it often feels more like the daily chore of shoveling cow poop out of the barn to get things cleaned up for another day of pooping cows![7]

For the moment, I want to leave these two things settled in our hearts. One, that coming to God with broken hearts is one of the safest things we can ever do when we are willing to approach God the Father through faith in his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Two, that God working through a long journey is simply the way it has to be in this lifetime, since the transformation from a sinners doing as we please,[8] to sons who will one day be just like Jesus when we see him as he is,[9] is a glorious work God is not only doing in us as individuals, but is binding together his children from around the world in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.[10] Getting one sinner to be like Jesus is miraculous work enough. Getting every child of God to so fellowship together that the church would be “pure and blameless for the day of Christ,”[11] like “a bride adorned for her husband”,[12] well… how could that possibly be a short journey?!

To keep this Pondering-sized, here are a couple of passages from God’s Book that assure the brokenhearted that we are safe as we come to God in the name of his Son, followed by a couple of verses that encourage us to press on in our journey, no matter how long it seems to be, and how uncertain we are of how far along we have travelled.

Safety for the brokenhearted:

     The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.[13]

     For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”[14]

Encouragement for the long journey:

     Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.     Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.[15]

     Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.[16]

© 2017 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Romans 1:15-16 is Paul’s glorious testimony to the gospel, but I include in my mind everything the New Testament teaches about every believer having the exact same relationship with God as his beloved children. Ephesians 1 shows so much of this from the viewpoint of how God has designed and orchestrated the whole work of salvation so that all his children are saved and adopted in the same way through the same means. Ephesians 2:1-10 shows how this applies to us personally, but still with that element of how salvation is the same for everyone who ever comes into the household of God. Even the division between Jews and Gentiles of that time period is resolved in the cross of Jesus Christ who makes us both into “one new man” where every believer is just as much a member of the body of Christ as anyone else (Ephesians 2:11-22).
[2] Ephesians 4:1-16 shows this one new man (the whole church) living worthy of the gospel of Christ, but with each part of the body working to build the body up in love. I Corinthians 12:1-31 is a very clear treatise on how each member of the body of Christ is both positioned and gifted to do distinctive things for the care of the whole body.
[3] Or perhaps as something I have already known, but never noticed a particular way it applies to my life.
[4] Psalm 147:3
[5] John 15:11
[6] II Corinthians 3:18
[7] Yes, I share this by personal experience in both shoveling out the barn, and feeling like the like-Jesus changes in my life didn’t seem to last very long. Of course, in the long-journey scheme of things, transformation has been taking place the whole time, for which I am increasingly thankful.
[8] Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 3:9-20
[9] I John 3:2
[10] Ephesians 4:3
[11] Philippians 1:10
[12] Revelation 21:2
[13] Psalm 34:18
[14] Isaiah 57:15
[15] Hebrews 12:1-3
[16] Philippians 3:12-14

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