All humans have a longing to "know". This longing has been placed within us by the uncreated God before we came into any physical being. So, it is not unnatural for us to be inquisitive about who we are, how we got here and why we are here. We have an enemy, no gentleman, who is scheming to answer those questions in a way that leads us away from God and towards self destruction. He doesn't even need to be particularly present in our lives, he just needs to sow the seeds of "self". As we look to "self" to come up with answers and blame all wrongdoing on Satan, circumstance or others, he has us ensnared, trapped.
The first 25 years of my life I searched for the answers to these questions in all the wrong places; every aspect of my identity was marginalised which, in turn, led me into trouble. For the second 25 years of my life, I sought Him out, asked Him for wisdom and revelation and enjoyed His presence. This included the "south wind" blessings of healing, deliverance, growing in the gifts of the Spirit, and the privilege of introducing the lost to Him, along with many "north wind" trials to overcome.
Nothing even begins to come close to the amazing joy and revelation that the intimacy He is now drawing me into, brings.
At this moment in history, I believe the Lord is imparting greater revelation to His church as its identity as the "bride", and the seasons and processes the Lord encourages us through to make us ready. So often, young believers, myself included all those years ago, have rushed through to a later season because of a great testimony. Our thirst for stories and examples of what God has done supercedes our desire to enable each one to fall hopelessly in love with who He is, not just what He can and does do. There is huge value in encouraging others by highlighting how a devastated life can be turned around, but only if it is to lead others into loving Him intimately, and placing the first commandment as our first priority, from which all else flows. This is what produces longivity, freedom and fruit. To rush ahead, loving only what Jesus has done and not intimately knowing who He is, can often lead to disappointment, disillusion and depression, and at worst, a falling away.
Our nature is to "do" for God – we still want to earn His love! We never can, we have it already. Our "doing", wrongly gives us a sense of value. However, it is the passionate love Jesus and His Father has for us that gave Him the supernatural courage to go through the cross. As we fall passionately in love with Him – who He is personally – He imparts His supernatural characteristics that enables us to stand through our sufferings that are a reflection of His.
If we are to look to our beautiful Jesus for example, we will see that passionate love for us came before anything He did for us! His love for us was so full of passion and desire that He gave up everything. He left His glorious throne in the heavenly realms to take on human form and live amongst us in our time frame, with the sole purpose of rescuing us. His love for us superceded any healing, deliverance or raising the dead that He went on to do here on earth. He is our great example. Love Him first, develop intimacy – two way – what does He feel, think, say, do – be vulnerable with Him about what we feel, think, say, do; allow Him to encourage us onwards towards Him, doing only as He leads, just as He only did what the Father instructed, even unto death of self.
Philippians 3:10 says "That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection..." – it would be great if the verse stopped there, but, it doesn't! It goes on, "....and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in His death". In the Father's accounting system, He accounted His Son's physical, emotional and spiritual devastation as currency to buy salvation for the many – you and me. He accounts our sufferings in the same way. God will use the sufferings we endure and translate it to salvation for the people who see our devotion to Jesus, despite our sufferings and wonder "Why do you love Him when He appears to have abandoned you to this trial?" (Song 5:9)
If we know Him intimately, not just theologically or even because we have spent time in His presence, but intimately knowing what He is feeling and thinking through our daily walk, we can answer that question with joy and exhilaration. Of course we don't thank God for suffering, but we do thank Him that He has a plan for it and that He is in it with us.
Paul tells us in Colossians 1:24 that "... in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions..." – What is lacking? Nothing theologically, but it is the Fathers intention to give His Son a Bride, and the Son's intention to give His Father a family and therefore, we, the church, are called to bridal partnership and in such He says to us "I am going to give you meaning for the brokeness! I am going to take the difficulties and count them as parternship in the cross of Jesus!". We will become more like Him!
When God does not do what He is able to do, we have to know, that He is doing a more meaningful thing. In the crisis and magnitude of devastation during the night in Gethsemane, Jesus called out to His Father – "if there is any other way?". It's ok to call out during the dark night of trials, but it is only when we are lovesick for Jesus, that we will bear his sufferings and ensure that our hearts do not become offended. Offence is one of the strongest members of the enemy's armoury as it causes a barrier of hardness in our hearts. Lovesick passion will fuel courage, strength and devotion to Him, no matter what! This will win hearts for Jesus.