By, Toni Smothers
Trials abound in the ministry and sometimes we feel pressed on every side by troubles. But, we are not crushed and broken by disappointments. Even though we may become perplexed, we don’t give up or let our faith waver. We know in our heart of hearts that God never abandons us - Although sometimes we may forget it, we are never really at the end of our rope.
No matter what dreadful thing may occur around or to us, we always have hope. Christ has won the victory over death, we have eternal life as our inheritance. As children of God, we have the assurance that even death submits to the power and glory of God. I praise him for that incredible promise.
I envision even the smallest corner in the darkest closet in Heaven as a glorious place compared to anything that has ever or will ever exist here in our lifetimes.
While lavishing in imaginings of the grandeur and blessings of Heaven may be kind of neat, we must never let the future detract us from the present. The Bible teaches us that through suffering we share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in us. But, is it? Is the life of Jesus truly showing in each of us?
I don’t believe we were saved to spend the rest of our lives yearning for eternity. Yet you can find many who will say that they have to endure this life until God calls them home. Their self-imposed endurance test keeps them diligently doing rather than gratefully experiencing. So is your cup half full or half empty today? Do you spend most of your time doing for others so you can show God how faithful and self-sacrificing you are? Those who do are probably missing many of the blessings God has for them.
God is the only one who understands true faithfulness. He is the only one who has made the ultimate sacrifice of his son’s life for us. Even our noblest efforts are as filthy rags compared to what he has already done. He doesn’t want that kind of futile effort from us. He just wants to love us and be the center of our lives. Fellowship with God does not have to be a far off goal to become real only after death. His spirit is very real and immediate.
Sometimes we get so busy doing for God we forget that He just wants us to spend time with Him. We go around spinning our wheels and leave little or no time for just waiting and listening for Him. His still, small voice is always with us, guiding, comforting and sustaining. God is present, now, today, as we live and breathe. As I write His message, He helps me choose the exact words that will communicate with your hearts, as well as your minds.
We need only accept that it is actually possible and true that He is here with us today – Just as He always is. We need only let our hearts believe, without question or rational explanation, that our Father wants to be that involved in our lives! He is not simply to be summoned periodically throughout our days when we pause to acknowledge Him with our prayers or good deeds. He wants to be so much more intimate with each and every one of us then we can ever conceive of in our grandest imaginings.
How close is your heart or your own emotions? God is closer. How well do you know yourself? God knows you far better. How many hairs are on your head? Even you don’t know that - your Heavenly Father knows that answer. This incredible reality is often too huge for us to fathom, but it is still true.
I think that we are meant to live in multiple realities. We are our children’s parents, our parents’ children, our friends’ friend, our students’ teacher, our husbands’ wives, and on and on. We are not easily defined. But above all that we know ourselves to be in this life, God knows us as His children and that means so much more than all the rest.
No matter how much adversity or evil we come against, we can always have the comfort and the council of our Father. We can also have His celebration and companionship in our times of joy. He is always, always, with us!
So all of our accomplishments, our risks, humiliations and trials, are really just opportunities for God to demonstrate His power, presence and love in and through us. We must not let anything steal that truth from us because we are meant to live joyfully in that knowledge.
We all have faced problems in our relationships or in our work or our homes that have seemed overwhelming at times. We temporarily forgot who faces those problems right there and then with us.
It’s true that God didn’t promise us an easy life, but he did promise to send us the Holy Spirit. Once we acknowledge Him, invite Him to take up residence within us, we live in two distinct realities for the rest of our lives. We live among the lost and hurting world in a state of blessedness that can only be experienced. It can’t be explained or adequately verbalized. But I can tell you this much, that state of blessed communion with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, can turn the hardest that life delves out into wonderful opportunities to show the world God’s Glory through us as we respond.
If we accept that we are sinners in need of forgiveness and that we are predestined to adoption as children of God, purchased and redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, who guarantees our inheritance into heaven, then we are truly saved. No more is necessary to obtain that eternal life in Heaven after death. That’s just part of the good news, however, because if we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us and direct our lives, we can also understand and therefore claim the joy of our salvation, which is to live an abundant life in the here and now. There’s such tremendous joy in being God’s child. I can’t emphasize enough how vastly different the presence of the Holy Spirit as a daily reality can make in our lives today and for the rest of our days here on earth.
Other than Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, I can’t imagine a more precious or perfect gift - The power and indwelling delight of the Holy Spirit’s presence. We must never silence God’s small voice by our nonsensical busyness. God blesses us according to our willingness to receive and share, and not for any other reason. That power and tremendous joy remains ever ready for all who will receive it. So my prayer for each of you today, is that you will also claim the joy of your salvation.
You know, as spirit-filled children of God, we leave the optimists of this world in the dust because our cup is not only half full; it is full and overflowing with the love of our Heavenly Father.