Hard knocks


“Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go.” Isaiah 48:17 NIV

“It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.” John 6:45 NIV

“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.” 1 John 2:27 NIV

We are made for specific destinies and for purposes we need to constantly learn and adapt to. Nothing is static or set. Nothing is kept the same though our whole lives, and every one of God’s people have a whole plethora of abilities and talents, given to enrich their lives and the lives of others. These unfold through life.

Each one has been uniquely fitted to deal with people, crisis and situations, to the glory of God and to teach us all to grow, struggle with hardships, and trust God in every way. The school for these skills, is severe, testing and involves spending long periods of time teetering on the brink of disaster. It is proving God in supreme failure, succumbing to temptations and learning to get up afterwards and walk on.

Every day of life is spent closely to Christ, obeying and learning every day and in every occasion the joy of knowing His heart and personally walking with Him. This is the way to prove that the scriptures are true and the God revealed in them is completely and utterly trustworthy. To stick to his decrees obediently, is the path of peace within, though not necessarily in the outward life. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

This realization of truth and faith are the only qualifications for usefulness and to be able to draw close to people in need. The people in our lives, family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, have the knowledge of God within them, but they seek to fill up the empty spaces with other experiences that ultimately keep God out, and also are deeply unsatisfying. Learning to be attuned to this truth, makes us more sensitive to others, and our own life experiences help us to identify with sufferers and fellow failures..!

We cannot be useful without feeling the blows ourselves and the deep hurt visited on us by people, and the fallen system of this world’s fake glory. The desire to fit in is strong, but to be resisted, so that we can stand in the day of conflict and overcome the dangers and wounds, with the sword of the Spirit. We are only as strong as we are adept at using the armour that God has provided, and as we use it in anger against our foes, so our strength grows and our accuracy develops so that we are precise and affective in the battle each day.

There is no shame in living on the “wrong tracks” which is in itself, a foolish and assumptive judgment by a hierarchical and meritocratic society to keep some up and the vast majority down. Living in a place where the every day necessities are not guaranteed, is the practice ground for trusting in God for all things. Having no access to luxury goods is, again, no bad thing, but teaches us what is really important and truly valuable and worth having.

“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:17 NIV

In our society, the purchase and possession of expensive goods, is the sign of success. The indicator of strength of character is to play the system and get to the top, over and above everyone else. How you do it is up to you, and the more ruthless you become, is the mark of success. This strategy masks the inner life of greed and covetousness, which bring no satisfaction and moral and spiritual failure. Without God, this lifestyle seems so attractive, but in reality it is the path to destruction.

Jesus said, that to be great, we have to become less, humble ourselves, serve others and obey him. The greatest among you will be your servant.” Matthew 23:11 NIV

This is a bitter pill in our times, and not desired at all. It goes against the grain and denies our very self. This is precisely the point of what Christ is about and the many lessons in right living, that He taught, recorded for us in the biographical accounts of his life. It is difficult to live and remain true to God’s word and follow him in every way. The way things are just seem to suck us in and water down our vigour to follow the right path.

It is crucial that we do follow him and break down our selfish walls that build up around our hearts, especially towards Jesus, and also towards other people. His way is the only way and to be like him is the true Christian’s deep desire. To walk that path and take the knocks along the way, is in reality, the way to strength and peace. As we bear burdens, we become more useful to bear and share the difficulties faced by those around us. We have deeper understanding of what our Saviour suffered, for our sake.