What About Me?
We start this born again life like any other baby. All our thoughts are,
“what about me,” but as we begin to travel upon the narrow road that leads
to eternal life we will discover that true faith is based upon, “what about
God?” I recently listened to some CD’s that talked about creating Heaven in
your life but a life of following Christ, although it can bring some real
positive changes in your life is mixed with difficulty. This came as a shock
to me. First look at the children of Israel, they left slavery, received
riches, depended on a miracle to cross the Red Sea and the next generation
of them went into the Promise Land, but there were giants in that land who
were happy to choke them to death. God could have eliminated them in any
way, most of them miraculous, but He chose to gradually drive the giants out
of the land by hornets. You don’t know God if this surprises you. God
frequently uses what seems to be a ridiculous situation to solve a problem,
but it always works. He didn’t let the lions out of the lions den when
Daniel was tossed in; He shut the lion’s mouths. He didn’t tell Gideon the
best way to defeat a massive army was to increase the number of his soldiers
but reduce them. His ways are not our ways. If you knew what the giant story
is all about you wouldn’t shed one tear for them. He did the hornet’s thing
so the children of Israel would know that it was not their own strength but
God’s doing that drove the fearful giants away.
When I got born again it was the most remarkable thing that has happened in my life, and I have experienced money miracles, resurrections from the dead, fantastic healings and many other kinds of great deliverances! I grew up watching stories where the good guys always win. I learned not to watch horror shows because it contaminates our emotions with fear and I enjoyed television productions like Superman enormously. It encouraged some vanilla toast guy like me that I could perhaps some day step into a phone booth and fly off to help somebody effectively. Toto was also part of a wonderful story, that there’s no place like home and that if you have an adventure your little dog will be your friend and you will meet the Wizard of Oz. Judy Garland would also sing to me, “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and I began to develop that believing that the best would come just around the next curve in the yellow brick road was my destiny.
I had terrible things happen in my life until I met Christ and then everything changed. I expected everything to continue like this until I got off this planet, but it doesn’t work that way. You don’t need enormous miracles to convince you that you have gone from darkness to light. One day I decided I wanted to wash at the laundromat the clothing that belonged to many brethren. The miracle was a small one but it still remains a big one in my life. God seemingly provided the money (I had none) to wash and dry a laundromat full of clothing. The only being I mentioned my difficulty to was the Lord Jesus Christ. I came back with clean laundry as happy as a humming bird. Even before I was born again, I had seen signs in the night sky that were miracles and I had experienced answers to potentially life threatening situations when I had no choice but to pray but unless you are born again you cannot even see the Kingdom of Heaven (John 3:3) even though you may be anxious to do so. Since then I have encountered million dollar miracles and loved ones back from the dead, but life on this earth is no heaven unchallenged. God even uses more ridiculous things to defeat the enemy and accomplish His purpose. He makes all things work together to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28): this includes all the pitfalls you may encounter.
Let’s imagine whether it’s true or not that a tree can feel and think. What do you suppose that a majestic redwood thinks and feels as every day the log trucks and chainsaws draw closer? My guess is they would be shocked to their very core-wood. What do you think that a colony of wild geese feel like as a development encroaches on their waterway with intentions to fill it in with rubble and earth and build a super-shopping center where they once played? I believe those two illustrations demonstrate what life is really like. For the most part I spent 40 years enjoying a life free of such challenges when life did seem to be heaven on earth, something I never could anticipate or deserve. I lived in wonderful places, had wonderful experiences, married my wonderful wife, had an angel visit me and experienced deliverances of every sort. I have dined on exquisite food, viewed incredible natural phenomena and had the best friends anyone could hope for. I lived a life where I was the boss and turned down more blessings than I was able to receive, then one day all that changed.
God tests everyone who follows Him to see whether we are being spiritually matured and developed into the kind of creatures He wishes us to be eternally. If you think that is easy you have never read what God said in Malachi 3:1-3, “Behold I will send my messenger and he shall prepare the way before me and the Lord, whom you seek shall suddenly come to his temple even the messenger of the covenant whom you delight in: behold, he shall come, says the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ sope: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” You are part of that offering. God will receive you.
When this began to happen to me I thought metaphorically speaking, all hell had broken loose along with the ice on the frozen lake I was walking across. Where were all the years of divine pampering I had experienced? Once upon a time I was carrying paper bags of groceries to my family in the wilderness. By the time I reached the top of the mountain, the bags had completely disintegrated. The brush on the slope had been difficult to travel through and had left many scratches on my face and hands. This is a bizarre and long story and I will not tell it all here. The point of this is that I sat on a rock and told God, “I don’t know where I have gone wrong but I must have done something unknown to me that was terrible. Please tell me what it is.” I took out my pocket New Testament and read these words from the Apostle Paul in 2Corinthians 11:23-27, “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent in deaths often. Of the Jews five times I received forty stripes save one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned (to death), three times I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often in perils of waters, in perils of robbers in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”
After reading this I shouted, “Hallelujah!” from the mountain top and said to myself that I am only experiencing the normal Christian life. You see not only does God test us for future assignments but our adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. (1Peter 5:8) An example of this is that God says, if you have given up a house or land for His Kingdom’s sake, you will receive 100 fold of all the things He promises and He delineates as well as 100 times more houses and lands with persecutions. I never understood why the word promised us lands with persecutions and not merely lands until God showed me that the persecutions were to cause us to grow strong in the spirit. That is also the purpose of these encouragements I will write for your benefit as soon as possible.
Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to be born again or have any questions.
Minister David Prather
This article continues for your benefit under the title “Passing the Test.”