Do you remember the times when God has made things so clear to you? You wrestle through a decision, seeking His guidance, and you get it without a shadow of doubt. He did that for me about my decision to apply for the Master of Divinity in Counselling at a seminary. At the time I needed unmistakable guidance because there was a powerful mentor in my life believing God was calling me in a different direction. It was a season in my life when I was working through how I made decisions in relation to others, and was learning to listen to God’s voice deep within my heart and match it against the voices of others outside of me. It was a threatening time, and it was new territory to trust my heart and the voice within me.
Today I read some lines from C.H. Spurgeon which reminded me of that day.
“There is nothing Christ dislikes more than for His people to make a show-thing of Him, and not to use Him. He loves to be employed by us. Covenant blessings are not meant to be looked at only, but to be appropriated. Even our Lord Jesus is given to us for our present use. ….do not treat God’s promises as if they were curiosities for a museum, but use them as everyday sources of comfort. Trust the Lord whenever your time of need comes on.”
The details of how I “made use” of Christ that unforgettable day are too personal to share. But in a beautiful, whimsical and unmistakable way He spoke to me and confirmed the leading of my heart. And I needed that knowledge. Oh how I have needed it in the days, months and years that have followed. I look at the long journey I embarked on to fulfill that goal and I wonder if I will make it. There seem to be endless valleys to go through, mountains to climb and battles to fight. But His promise and His word to me keep me daily as my comfort. And they provide me also with heavenly equipment for the journey and the battles, described by Spurgeon in the same excerpt. Today I take courage from these words, and trust they bless you too:
“We have all heard of swords which were made useless in war; and even of shoes which were made to sell, but were never meant to walk in. God’s shoes are of iron and brass, and you can walk to heaven in them without their ever wearing out; and His lifebelts, you may swim a thousand Atlantics upon them, and there will be no fear of your sinking. His word of promise is meant to be tried and proved. …How can God say no to something He has promised?”
As I wrote this I read Belinda’s comments about lightening up, which is my constant desire and intent, as I scour the floor of the basement of my own heart. And I meditate again upon this amazing God I know who gives me laughter amid tears, and joy in the midst of pain. And I guess I continue to know that they must always go hand in hand. Somehow the iron and brass shoes (kind of a crazy image, eh, if we think literally about them) God gives us are indestructible because they are forged in the fires of pain and struggle, and somehow the lightness He can give us makes them wearable. How’s that for homemade theology?
Spurgeon himself, in the next day’s reading, speaks of God’s rod blossoming with sweet flowers and nourishing fruits. Think of that story of the blossoming rod from the Bible. How’s that for a comic image? Only God could do that.
So even as I have meditated on the sure word of guidance God gave me several years ago and how I have often resented the trials that have come since, I know deep within my spirit that they were also love-letters from God delivered “in black-edged envelopes”, as Spurgeon says. They are the treasures of darkness, the blessings from the storm, the good things in the bad things. And because of them I am being made into the kind of person who can fulfill the kind of work that He is leading me into. This is our great mysterious God whose ways are not our ways, whose thoughts are not our thoughts. He will meet us in our ways and thoughts, and speak to us through His promises, and He wants us to “use” Him to bring us into our destinies, but always He is teaching us through everything that His promises are not like curiosities in a museum, they are always Yea and Amen. He, the Alpha and the Omega, uses our trials to make us take those curiosities out of the museum of our Sunday School theologies, and forge them into the shoes and lifebelts that will carry us through all the journeys and oceans of life.