Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
Recently, Rick Atchley, preaching minister at The Hills Church of Christ, came to preach at our Church. During his sermon, he mentioned a passage that he has a love-hate relationship with. It was the above passage from Isaiah. He loves how God says that He will be with us. The hate part for him was the word “through”. And in this passage’ sweeping rivers and fires do not look very attractive to go through. The reality is there will be tough times we will all experience and must go through in this life.
As I heard him describe this, I began reflecting on my journey, especially the last 5 years or so. Two things came to mind for me around this passage. First is the obvious, God is with me through it all. Second, is the “through” I have faced and must face. I will divide the “through” into two types; what I have been through and what I must go through.
So, let’s start with the obvious, God is with me. It is comforting to know that God is there. It is also comforting to know that God, through Jesus, experienced living on earth. I can look back in hindsight at difficult times and see God’s hand and presence through what I experienced. And, at times, I have felt God’s peace and presence in the midst of dark times. For those of us in the Faith, we can see and know God has, is, and will be there.
Now comes the undesirable part…”through”. As I look back on my life, I realize that there have been difficult and dark times I have had to walk through to be who I am. God has used all of the grief, pain, emotional distress, ridicule, and the like to build me into who I now am. I am able to relate to others who are experiencing similar situations. Not only has God walked with me through those times in my life, He has allowed the wisdom gained for them to help me be a conduit of His love, mercy, grace, and message to others. I haven’t faced physical threat or suffering for my faith, but that does not mean I have not faced darkness and challenges because of my faith. The evil one attacks where he believes he can hurt me the most.
Another part of this for me is the personal work I have had to do in order to become the man God has created me to be. I have had to face ugliness about myself, both the sinful parts of me and the plain undesired parts of me. The parts of me that I do not like either because someone rejected me because of those parts, or the lies the evil one sends my way that I believe. In order to open myself up to God’s love and grace, I have had to look at the source of those parts. When I begin to look at the truth about myself, it is sometimes a dark journey I must go through. However, when I have taken that journey, God has been faithful to walk with me every time.
Finally, I have to be aware that my journey continues. Because of that, I will face more difficult situations that I must walk through. Storms will come and go in my life. Yet God will be there. Furthermore, I will have to face more parts of myself that I have denied, hidden or repressed. Around this personal work, I am reminded about what Rick Warren mentions in The Purpose Driven Life. He contends that I cannot run from the tests placed in front of me. If I do, then that particular test will show up over and over until I go “through” it. God will walk alongside me as I do and I will be a better and stronger man because of it.
I want to note that I would not be where I am in my journey had God not sent men into my life who invited me to take part in a Crucible Project weekend. Since then, it has been an amazing journey with God. I urge men who want to continue to grow into who God intended them to be to consider participating in a Crucible weekend. It is life-changing.
1. Name a time where you experienced God walking with you through a storm or through darkness.
2. Where did you notice him during the difficult time?
3. In hindsight, what good came from the difficult time?
4. What is a hidden dark place for you that you need to look at and allow the grace of God to cover? (And it doesn’t necessarily have to be sin)
5. This week, pay attention to where in your life God may be asking you to reveal or uncover something you have put in the dark. Ask Jesus to walk alongside you as you work through this part of your life.
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