Praying til Pentecost Day 8
- "...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering." Philippians 3:10
- "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Romans 10:17
All of us have heard and perhaps even made the statement, "Seeing is believing." It is commonly accepted that when we see something with our own eyes then we can have confidence that it is real or it is the truth. It is hard to believe in the worth or reality of something that cannot be seen.
In the Kingdom of God, Paul's statement sets the record straight for believers, "Faith comes by hearing." Trusting in the word of Christ is not a result of seeing with the eyes of faith, but hearing with the ears of faith.
Sight can be a pretty tricky deal. I remember when I was a ten year old fifth grader at the Main Street School in Farmingdale, New York. I was asked by Mrs. Curtis to write a statement on the board, and then return to my seat at the back of the room, and read it to the class. I didn't think anything at all about what I was writing. I just printed it on the board and walked to my seat. This was my first experience with the public embarrassment that comes from being made aware I needed glasses. I could not see what I had written well enough to read it to the class from where I was seated. I had to get up, and walk closer. The closer I had to return to the board, the louder the giggles became. I could hear the dreaded words begin whispered, "Four eyes!" In those days glasses and braces were not a status symbol or a fashion statement. They were the brands of inadequacy. Whew! Glad that nightmare is over. I am not sure that I have trusted what I can see for the last 50 years. Recent cataract surgery has done nothing but reinforce my skepticism in sight.
Words mean something. Paul wrote to the church at Philippi that he wanted to know Jesus better, and he anticipated that this would be done through the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering. To the church at Rome, he would remind them that placing faith in the Risen Christ was a result of hearing the word of Christ, not seeing the person of Christ. One of my favorite statements of Jesus is the invitation to "Come unto Me...and rest. (Matthew 11:28)
Sunday I invited the children of our church to come forward for a brief teaching session. I held a little guy in my lap that had brain surgery two years ago. He and I have become friends over the past two years, and I have been at the hospital and in his home enough for us to be comfortable with one another. We always play a simple little game. I hold out my arms, and he reaches up to me. I lift him up and he places his little head on my shoulder. I begin to sing, "Go to sleep little Taiden, go to sleep. Go to sleep little Taiden go to sleep." He closes his eyes and pretends to be sleeping. After a brief pause, I will lift him up and say loudly, "Wake up!" He laughs out loud, and shouts, "Do it again!" We demonstrated our little game for the other children and the adults Sunday morning. He was a natural. I pointed out that Jesus is still calling us by name to come and place our head upon His shoulder, and rest.
Jesus invites believers to find rest in Him. They don't really know Him until they rest in Him. Rest can be described as ...
- R - Releasing
- E - Every
- S- Single
- T- Thing
Rest is not found in reclining. It is found in releasing. There is no better way to release what we are suffering than to bring it to Jesus in prayer.
I have often made the comment, "I don't need this!" Another favorite of mine over the years has been, "I'm not going to take this." Perhaps you have heard some others...
- I don't deserve this!
- I didn't sign up for this!
- I didn't ask for this!
- I didn't go looking for this!
Over the years I have tried to come to grip with THIS! What this means for me is to begin with the definition of THIS.
- I- I
When Paul said that he wanted to know Jesus, he may not have known what he was saying. I understand that he was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to reveal the mind of Christ to him. I just wonder sometimes if Paul knew the consequences of his statement when he wrote it. He may have been like a 10 year old fifth grader writing something on a blackboard, and having to come to grips with what he wrote by getting closer to the truth.
Getting closer to Jesus comes through suffering. The power of His resurrection will never be known fully without experiencing the fellowship of His suffering. The same holds true for our human relationships.
Two years ago, I was acquainted with the parents of the little boy I mentioned earlier in my blog. We were friendly, and on a first name basis. I had a respect for the contribution they made to our community, and we were on cordial speaking terms. Our relationship began to deepen when the suffering of their little boy began to worsen. His seizures required brain surgery at one of leading children's hospitals in Texas. I traveled 70 miles with one of our men in the church, and we met them at 5AM at the hospital to pray with them before the baby was taken to surgery. We stayed all day with them until the baby was released from surgery and taken to recovery. It was a long 12 hour ordeal filled with several different prayer sessions. Long story short, our relationship with one another went to another level through the rough sea of suffering. Without that experience together, we would still be cordial acquaintances, but we would not have the kind of relationship that we now appreciate.
The fellowship of His suffering takes place when we bring THIS to Jesus. Can you hear Him speaking to you today? He still says, "Come unto Me...and rest." Release every single thing that is on your mind, and on your back over onto the shoulders of Jesus. Remember, rest is not found in reclining, but it is found in releasing THIS.