Here and now -- Not bye and bye

It takes a thousand sorrows to make a disciple.

I heard an appealing song with a catchy tune and sung by a quartet with good voices which blended beautifully.  One part says:

         We’ll talk it over in the bye and bye,

         We’ll talk it over, my Lord and I,

         I’ll ask the reason, He’ll tell my why,

         When we talk it over in the bye and bye.

In no way would I criticize the author.  I can understand his feeling but personally I could never agree in any way with that concept.

Join me once again in my time machine as we shoot fast-forward to our arrival in Heaven.  Now we are totally prostrate before our glorious Saviour and we are thrilled and filled with adoration and gratitude at a level we never before experienced.  Can you imagine when we finally get to our feet, we would demand that Jesus explain to us why certain painful things happened to us?  I cannot, so let me tell you why.

Like you, I’ve had many deeply painful experiences which I would never want repeated.  But let me tell you this.  At the worst of times, I got to know God in ways I never dreamed were possible.

I have a precious relative and a precious friend, both godly women.  They are very dear to me and a continual encouragement.  Both had a similar grief in the shocking death of their beloved husbands.  My relative’s husband had a serious heart attack and appeared to be close to the end.  She prayed and at first begged God not to let him die but then changed her prayer to ask for God’s will.  It seemed to be a miracle, he seemed to be recovering and was doing so well he expected to go home soon.  Just as trembling joy was beginning - - death snatched him away.  My friend’s husband was expected to recover and his death was startling and seemed cruel.  The doctor told me that he shouldn’t have died and the whole hospital was in shock.  (Later on a hidden physical problem was discovered) but at the time there was only blank numbness and broken hearts. 

As long as they are on Planet Earth it is only natural they will wonder why the all-powerful God, Whom they continue to love and obey, didn’t prevent all the things which meant their husbands would no longer fill their role as father and not be there to support them in the many deep trials which lay ahead for both of them.  But I am utterly, totally, completely convinced that when they look into the face of Jesus their questions will vanish quicker than the morning mist.

Church history tells that the persecutors of the Apostle John submerged him in a huge cauldron of boiling oil but because he didn’t die he was exiled on the small island of Patmos off the coast of Greece.  Wouldn’t you think he’d have a question for God?  If the scalding agony of boiling oil clinging to my body didn’t usher me into heaven, after that horrible suffering, why am I now banished to this desolate place?  I can’t find any such question in his Gospel Epistles or Revelation.

Paul listed (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) some of his excruciating persecutions for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ but I don’t hear him question any of them.

Let’s get back in the time machine and go back in time to the most important and significant Thursday night in all of human history.  We tip toe up the stairs and slip silently into the upper room.  We arrive just in time to hear Jesus say (John 16:23) “in that day you will ask Me nothing”.  What day or time is He talking about?  That day (John 15:4) when we abide in Him and He abides in us – that day when we are so fully surrendered to God and filled with the Holy Spirit that (John 17:22) we are one with the Father as Jesus is.  On that awful Thursday night Jesus knew that after observing His agony in Gethsemane, Peter would deny Him BUT Jesus knew something else about Peter.  Jesus knew that one day Peter would have a question.

Peter’s question would not be for Jesus, it would be for the persecutors who were leading him away to crucify him.  Peter said to them - - I am not worthy to die as my Lord.  Then came his question - - would you crucify me upside down?  And they did.  On that awful Thursday night, bearing the grief of Peter’s denial, Jesus knew that weak, failing Peter truly loved Him.

Now the time machine can take us home.  I sing my own words to that tune.  Try it – you might like it.

 

         We talk it over in the here and now,

         I long to please Him, He tells me how.

         My faith grows stronger when I hear God’s voice,

         As I trust and obey Him he makes my heart rejoice.

_________

 

Simple words filled with love for the Master.

Looking unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) the Creator, Beginner, Sustainer and Completer of our faith.

The Lord does not prevent believers from the results of living in a fallen world but he wastes nothing - not a fish or loaf (John 6:12) or trial or grief or heartache.  He works all things together for the completion of His purpose (Romans 8:28-29) to make us like Jesus.

John Piper wisely said – it takes a thousand sorrows to make a preacher.  I changed it slightly to make it more personal – it takes a thousand sorrows to make a disciple.  Jesus said – IF you will be My disciple (Mark 8:34) there is a cross involved.

Nothing can compare with (Philippians 3:10) the precious and surpassing sweetness of knowing Him.

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