13. Get Ahead Of Yourself

22 12 2010

(I have been blogging on the book “The Bait of Satan” by John Bevere. Here are my thoughts on chapter 13).

It is easy to handle circumstances that are easy; do you know what I mean? Things that come naturally to us are a piece of cake. Things that we expect don’t surprise us. It’s the big one; the thing that hurts: that’s the test.

“It is easy to love those who can do no wrong in our eyes. That’s honeymoon love. It is another thing to love someone when we can see their faults, especially when we’ve been the victim of them…” (160).

When life comes at us with something we aren’t exactly prepared for; when someone does something that hits us where we are vulnerable, it is right at that point that both pain and opportunity mix.

Opportunity? How so?

This is the easier said than done portion of this blog: the truth is, when we are faced with an offense; when someone has done something to us that absolutely winds us we can get hurt and never recover from it. As cruel as it sounds, the author writes, “it’s our choice” (161). We can live in that hurt, by our own choice, or we can come before Christ and learn obedience through suffering. Jesus did it. Peter did it. Paul did it. What about you? What about me?

There are some kinds of hurt that does not go away easily and these are exactly the things that, depending on how we handle it, produce maturity.

“Some offenses will be more challenging than those for which we’ve been trained. This extra strain may cause a wound or injury after which we will have to exercise spiritually to be free and healed again. But the result will be worth the effort” (156).

Maturity does not come easily. “If it did,” the author argues, “all would attain it” (161). That is such a simple statement, but it caught me today. Of course; if mature was something we become by riding the escalator of life, wouldn’t everyone around us, every believer in Christ, be all that He intended? But clearly, we are not.

When Christ wanted to say an encouraging word to His disciples, this is what He put in His Hallmark card: “We must, through many tribulations, enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Jesus didn’t even pretend that our life would be easy, happy, care-free, warm, or friendly. He said in plain English (well…not really English) that it was going to BE HARD.

The author made this statement and I underlined and starred it: “Learn to fix your focus on the end result, not the struggle” (162). Not profound to you? I know, it seems so obvious, but in the middle of a struggle, isn’t that so often ALL I see? The struggle? What if, in the middle of it, I asked myself,  “What do I want to look like at the end of this?” It has to be more than “happy” because we all know how fickle that is. What I want is an inner sense of peace and joy and a rightness with God and man, as much as I am able. I want to lay my head on my pillow with an “all’s well” sigh, even though the weather outside is frightful. What I want is to flex and see a muscle that wasn’t there before. That is what I want.

Getting ahead of myself, looking down the road, lifts me out of the muck of the immediate; the tension of the immediate and gives me a new and better focus.

So where am I right now? What is my inner world? What is my attitude towards others? Where is my level of forgiveness at? If I can see clearly where I want to be, then it changes so much what I am willing to do right now because what I do right now, gets me there.

  1. “The first step to healing and freedom is to recognize you are hurt” (157). The author says that in our pride, often we will not admit it. I would add, sometimes we don’t know how to interpret how we feel. Anger might mask our hurt. Confusion might send us in all kinds of directions. It is good to just stop and say it, “I am hurt.” At this point we need to be really intentional to identify our hurt. The author fasted for a time so that he could really listen to God; it’s an excellent thing to do, to remove all distractions so that you can get serious about what is going on internally. This allows God to bring to mind names, and to show you the nature of your hurt: “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6). If we are going to forgive, we need to know how deep the hurt is so we can give it to God and begin to fight to forgive (read chapter 11 for more on forgiveness)
  2. The second thing is to pray…a lot. Our thoughts will continually pull us back into our hurt, so we need to pray for those who have hurt us. At first it may seem kind of mechanical, but after a while as we keep submitting our natural tendency towards bitterness, the Holy Spirit will give us victory over this.  I loved the Scripture reference the author noted, Psalm 35-11-14. In this passage, David talks about how people keep rewarding him evil for good, to the sorrow of his soul. Then he writes “but as for me.” David chooses a different course of action. He “prayed for them as if they were his close brothers or as one grieving the loss of a mother” (159). That is how passionately we ought to pray for those who have hurt us.
  3. Move towards people. At every opportunity seek to be at the table, stay at the table, or rejoin the table of fellowship with the one who has hurt you.

Isn’t this a difficult challenge?? For sure it is; but maturity comes when we resist the urge to resist. Maturity comes with the struggle. SO STRUGGLE to do this right because, ahead of yourself, is the prize.

— Teresa Klassen

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