Thursday, July 07, 2005
Making Darkness Light
A condensed version of Acts 9:1-22:
3As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
9For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
15But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
What an incredible story! Talk about a man on a mission.
If not familiar with this story, it’s a good read. Saul, renamed Paul, is blinded by the Light, and it’s in this blinded state that he begins to see for the first time in his life.
What blinding situations must occur in one’s life before there is sight? It is this very issue of blindness that I want to explore.
I have always loved the following verses:
‘I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name.’
‘And I will bring the blind by a way [that] they knew not; I will lead them in paths [that] they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them’.
Coming to see Him, the Living Lord, as my only Life is a daily transformation occurring within my soul. Learning to live out of this miraculous union I now have with God, who has become my Father, is where true life is being discovered.
Back some years ago, the Lord impressed upon my heart words to this effect: “That which I have for you has been deliberately hidden for you, not hidden from you. What unspeakable joy you will experience as you continue to trust me in this journey! Together we will find it. Together we will celebrate the treasures of darkness.”
Without a doubt, I believe the Lord wants to make us eyewitnesses of Him, not simply to parrot what others have said, no matter how good that might be. ”Who do you say that I AM”? He wants our spiritual sight to become clear so that no matter what the circumstance, we see Jesus.
The other day, while chatting with a brother via the web, it dawned upon me that maybe, just maybe I have been suffering through some needed death experiences.
I come from a mixed background spiritually. I was raised Roman Catholic, was born anew in 1972, and subsequently traveled in Charismatic, Pentecostal, Full Gospel and Vineyard circles. It was customary to launch into spiritual warfare when being confronted with what appeared to be ‘bad things’, and wanting to appear strong in the Lord, I was determined I must overcome these negative influences.
However, what I am coming to see is this: Paul, the Apostle of Grace, who was intimately acquainted with grace, and walking in the power of God’s grace, nevertheless was ushered into very dark circumstances. Three times he cried,”Lord! Remove this messenger of Satan from me!” The Lord replied, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Paul wrote, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
While chatting with my friend, what became clear to me was the fact that the Lord did NOT remove the buffeting messenger from Paul’s life. Why?
So that he might experience the treasures of darkness. To his and our natural way of thinking, it would seem most proper to ask a loving God and Father, “Please remove this torment”. But what Paul at that point could not see was that in the midst of the distasteful and humiliating situation, inner illumination from the Holy Spirit was about to break through. Paul was about to receive so much more than he could ever dreamed of asking! Blindness was being dispelled. He was going to see what the prophets would have loved to see and hear.
“Blessed are the hungry [for righteousness] for they shall be filled. Blessed are the poor in spirit" (or from the Living Translation) “God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the realities of the Father’s love is given to them.” I know the Lord causes the sun to shine upon the just and the unjust, but He so passionately wants there to be an intimate, experiential knowing of the reality of there not only being a God, but One who wants to become a Father to them.
What need is there for His grace in our lives if we see no need? Paul’s greatest necessity was not to be delivered from his buffeting tormentor, but to be awakened to see his need for the Lord and to rest in His bountiful provision.
Paul in this most dark situation began to see so much more of what and who constitutes grace. He said, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong”.
Our loving Father wants to usher us into the necessary circumstances and situations that He will use to illuminate within us the true knowledge of this glorious treasure we have in these jars of clay. Salvation is so much more than the rebirthing of our dead spirit! Heaven is not our goal - knowing Him in the now IS! Today is the day of salvation, and in this day His grace is sufficient.