Spiritual Broccoli or Cake?
Today was not a day for deep questions….or so I thought. Full disclosure…I had a bumpy day yesterday so I was not in the mood to think deeply when I began to pray this morning. It was one of those days where I just wanted answers…or so I thought. Have you ever had one of those mornings where you just want to complain? The book of Psalms is replete with examples of “complaints” to the Lord from people who were in deep despair. Crying out to the Lord when you are in pain is something that the Lord understands and has compassion towards. There is however, a big difference between a holy complaint and whining (see the book of Numbers…aka Israel whining).
I began to read a “word” from someone who was hearing God’s voice much more clearly than I was at the moment. Have you ever heard the Lord speak something that you didn’t want to hear? It is like being given vegetables when you want some cake. I received a serving of spiritual broccoli today. Sorry broccoli lovers…not a big fan. The “broccoli came in the form of a question from the Lord… “Tom, why are you here?”.
I have followed the Lord long enough to know that when He poses a question, He isn’t seeking an answer but rather is asking us to ponder His Word. His Word came to me as I pondered the question, “Why am I here?…and that is when the Lord reminded me of the deepest purpose of my existence on earth. Mind you, the Lord is doing many things in our lives but at this moment He was “boiling things down” to the basic, most rudimentary work of His Spirit in our lives.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ” Romans 8:28
If you are like me you have heard the first portion of this passage many, many times. Essentially He is saying that He is always at work in your life, through the proverbial “thick and thin”…all circumstances will work out and it will be good…but what does good look like? And how do I get there? Will I get what I want? Will getting to “the good” be easy? Is that what God is saying here?
Word to the wise…never interpret scripture out of context…it is a formula for disillusionment and pain. You always need to read, “the rest of the story”, v.29, the broader context surrounding a given scripture, in order to find its intended meaning. In this case, v.29 gives us the answer to the question, “Why am I here”…In a nutshell, God wants me to “look” like His Son, Jesus. In speech, in action, in attitude, in character. Conformed to Him. That is why I am here and the process of getting there, my friend, can taste a bit like eating broccoli at times. And that is normal. And that is okay. And that can be hard. But it is good. God’s form of good.
“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;” Romans 8:29
I have seen and heard of many Christ followers suffering alone because of the guilt or shame that they feel while traversing through difficult life circumstances over which they have no control. If that is you today fellow traveler, be encouraged. God is with you. You are not alone. He has not forgotten you or forsaken you. He does not cause all things but He will use all things to bring about His good purposes in you and through you. Don’t allow the false condemnation or shame that the enemy is trying to heap on you detract you from your path. The path of discipleship is hard. Jesus made that very clear. The enemies lie that he is sowing in the western church is that following Christ is a means to the end of getting all your fleshly desires.
God is good and His purposes are good. He is a God of blessing. Sometimes those blessings are clear to us and sometimes they are hidden in trials. Don’t shrink back. He is at work in you and will strengthen you with His sustaining grace.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10
In His Loving Grip,