When I fell, I walked through years of condemnation and rejection. Those closest to me thought that they were making a stand for God. They wrote words to me saying that they were speaking the mind of Christ, “What hell to have to hide the truth of what you’ve done. Your guilty prayers of forgiveness are empty.” They enveloped me in hopelessness. They carried my bed to the other side of the gate and stood guard around the Cross. They would not let me near, but I was too weak to crawl anyway.
The fire raged around me. Entities that were not friends screamed at me from the inside out and from the outside in. I was being consumed.
They said that they believed they were doing what God would have them do. I know how it sounds and if ‘here and now’ is all there is, then they would be horribly and blatantly wrong. But, you must know, I believe they were doing what God wanted them to do. Not because it was right in and of itself, but because of what God brought out of it. I do not believe that God worked in spite of their mistakes. I believe that God wanted them to reject me, …even in His name. It was a fire of condemnation that needed to be fanned to rage.
Every single bit of false that was in me was consumed. I believed them when they told me that I could not be sorry enough to be forgiven. I believed them when they told me that I was further from God than I had ever been. The false that was consumed was the hint of hope that I could be sorry enough to be forgiven. My hope in myself, my ability to pay, and my ability to, in time, bounce back was destroyed. I, all that remained in all that “I” was, was completely destroyed.
It’s normal to think that kind of hopelessness is not from God, but I have been there and I can tell you that it was. It’s not because of them. Their words and attitudes are full of disgusting pride and fat on self-righteousness, but it’s not about them. It’s about what they were used for. The hopelessness that I felt was not a destination, it was a tool to get me to a destination. I had to feel every moment of it so that I would know what I was rescued from. If hell is separation from God, then I got to eat a full meal of it.
If I look at them without considering the sovereignty of God, then I am repulsed. But, when I consider the garden that grew where the fire once consumed, then my mind goes directly to a God. He knows exactly what it takes to break the steel chains of self-inflated lies that keep you from being free. I am a very strong-willed punk. It took a dose of hell to break me. Who better to use than the people who will discern His voice and obey? While I can see their lies, I can see the way God used those lies. I can thank God for it and forgive what they inflicted.
Sometimes God instigates a hellish time for you, but if your faith is nearsighted you will only see your circumstances and the purpose will be blurred. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart on purpose. It caused Pharaoh to make the Israelite’s life hell. When Moses cried out to God, “Does this look like rescue to you?” (Ex5:22, The Message), he wanted to know the “why?”. God made it clear that He wanted the Israelite’s to know what they were being rescued from, just in case they were tempted to go back (Ex6:6, 7:4, 14:4, 14:18). He wanted them to know who He is.
There is no point when God is not in on what is going on with you. It’s not about looking at everyone else and concerning yourself with how wrong they are. God is using every bit of it to lead you somewhere, or burn you, or break you. Do you want in on this or not? That’s the real ‘coming to Jesus’ moment.
Look at what Job said when he figured this stuff out:
You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit. Yet these things you hid in your heart; I know that this was your purpose. -Job 10:12-13
I love the way The Message puts it: “You gave me life itself, and incredible love. You watched and guarded every breath I took. But you never told me about this part.”
I am trying to get you to see that you cannot look at your circumstances, at the people who wrong you, or at your own failures and think that this is all there is. This is a moment in a lifetime of moments. In all of it, there is never a point where things get out of God’s hands. He’s God. Nobody wins against Him.
He’s not going to rescue you out of your circumstances. He’s using your circumstances to rescue you.
You build a shelter to sleep under at night. Then, you go out during the day to find Him. You look everywhere, working sun-up to sun-down, only to go back to your shelter defeated. You will never find Him until you realize that He is where you are. He is the shelter that keeps you covered at night. He sits where you’re real and waits for you to come back. He wants to heal you where you’re broken and you’re broken where you don’t want to be.
Though he slay me, I will hope in him… -Job 13:15
He wants you to trust Him like that.