Russ & I met Lee through our trip to Kenya - although he came to capture the stories on film, we soon realized he had other talents: witty banter in the mornings, obscure pop culture references & just being "hood". More important than any of these though would be his persistence in covering our team in prayer. One morning, our hearts heavy with the weight of spiritual attack, he reminded us of the truth of where our victory lies - and who we rest in while facing difficult times. It was incredibly powerful, and one of the reasons I asked him to close out our series of playing in the pain. Lee's testimony is an amazing example of how Christ can reach in our deepest dirt & make something for His glory. As you read, consider the stories from this past month - stories of victory & doubt, pain & wrestling - the tension and beauty of our faith is something we've become familiar with and know. And if you're facing pain at this moment, know there's One who has overcome - and in Him you will always experience peace - despite the pain. Thereʼs this concept out in our culture called the health, wealth & prosperity “gospel”. And it says that if you just give yourself to God that youʼll be happy, or healthy or wealthy or better or.... Itʼs a concept that is borne out of the idea that we can be happier and “better” if we only change our circumstances (by committing our lives to God). Our outward appearances and our inner soul must be happy & we must be healthy in order to have a fulfilling life. And its stating that, that is what God wants for us.
Where does this come from? Why has this become popular amongst some people? Because weʼre human. Finite. Flesh and blood. Often we worship what we can see. We may not buy into the “prosperity gospel”, but we do have a tendency to live our lives in a circumstantial exchange for love & trust.
All of us have been (or are now in) a place in our lives, looking desperately to stop the pain. The excruciating pain of our lives with the shame and guilt and darkness that we live in. Exchanging some action for a return of a better circumstance. Truthfully, thereʼs nothing wrong with starting from that place. Weʼve all been there. And letʼs be honest, pain is a great motivator. We donʼt want it and weʼll go to any lengths to get rid of it.
But guess what? I will never promise you that if you follow some simple steps and commit your life to God that all your circumstances will change. Do you know why I would never say that? Because it isnʼt in the Bible. Itʼs not Truth.
“These things I have spoken to you, than in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
We WILL have trouble, trials, tribulations. Our peace is not to rest in whether or not we are currently facing those types of things. Jesus says our peace is in Him. Itʼs the relationship with Christ we are to seek. Not circumstantial change. Nothing else. Him alone.
Look. I understand this isnʼt easy. I walk in this just like everyone else. I canʼt say that this is what I do all the time with every circumstance on everyday. For a few years I made videos and sold them to churches to use during their services. (Which, by the way, is a terrible business idea.) So Iʼm making these videos and itʼs just not making enough money for me to run the business and get paid enough to live. It got so bad that my family had to move out of our house and move into my mother-in-laws. So one day Iʼm complaining to my wife that I work hard and these churches donʼt appreciate it and donʼt buy enough of it for me to at least live in a home with just my family. My wife said, “You act like you deserve it.” I said “Yeah, I do feel like I deserve that compensation for my hard work.” To which she replied, “well, honey, thatʼs just not right.” Yep. Itʼs not right. I felt it anyway. I wanted my circumstances to change to feel better. To find value in who I was and what I was doing. All for Lee. I thought that the circumstantial change of finances would make me feel better...be better.Think about it for a minute. Do you really ultimately ONLY want your circumstance to change? Is that truly what youʼre after? In reality you keep doing the same things over and over again trying to get a different result, right? That obviously doesnʼt work. So look at your own actions. It probably isnʼt even true that youʼre after a circumstantial change.
So what are you after?
Truthfully, I just want to live life feeling loved, secure. I want a true, unchanging, rock solid love to be the center of my life. I donʼt want to worry about circumstances like money, relationships, houses, business, disease etc. I just want to truly walk in peace NO MATTER WHAT IS HAPPENING.
And I mean peace, not “happiness”. Forget seeking happiness. The seeking of that is as elusive as grabbing air.
But what is peace?
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice! Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.
What is this saying? What is peace? How do we get it? It comes only from God and it starts in prayer to Him. Itʼs doesnʼt start by you getting your act together or creating some good circumstances or doing nice things for others....FROM HIM FOR YOU, by prayer.
The relationship with Christ is central. If I told you to get to know someone, whatʼs the first thing youʼre going to do? 2 things: Read about them and talk to them. You canʼt have a relationship by wishing it to be true.
Peace is only found in Jesus Christ. He didnʼt come down to earth to walk this life, be tempted, suffer, get beat, suffocating to the point of death by hanging with spikes driven into His body on a cross...so we can have nice things. Peace in Him lasts. And He knew it.
Now, what I am not saying is that God only wants us to suffer horrible things and have a miserable existence. And by doing so, we can call ourselves Christians. That is not it at all. He does want good things for us. He does love and care for us, but that may not always look like we think it might.
What I think weʼre after is an unchanging God who loves us more than we can ever imagine. Circumstances change. People will fail us. So will the church/the Body of Christ. But God will never, ever, ever change. Jesus died and overcame death because He loves you and wants a relationship with you. You see anybody else going to that extreme for you? Any circumstance offering you the same in return? No. And you never will.
You place your trust in Him and watch what happens. And if you canʼt do that right now, pray for the ability to. Get others to pray for you. Pray for the belief in your life that itʼs actually true. Go to Him. Thatʼs what He wants.
Donʼt worship this life. Start worshiping Him.