Monday, 4 June 2012

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Between a Rock and A Hard Place

As I walked a familiar path last week, I noticed something new.  There was a wall made of stones, not so special I suppose; but what intrigued me was that in these stones, beautiful flowers grew.  Not from the ground, but up on the wall; not from dirt, but out of the stone.

How is that possible?  I don't know, but as I took a moment to stop and marvel at its beauty, I chucked inside and thought, "Isn't that just like God?  To grow something beautiful between a rock and a hard place?"

Have you ever noticed this truth?  Have you experienced it? The number of times this has been proven true in my walk with the Lord is beyond counting.

I don't like being in the hard places of life.  I'm not fond of hardships nor of having a stoney heart.  Times when financial pressures weigh heavily tend to overwhelm me.  Times when loss hurts beyond expression shatter my heart into a million tiny pieces.

I don't think anyone likes pain.  I doubt any of us wake in the morning and cry out, "Dear God, please bring on the suffering."

And yet, I have found that during the darkest moments  in my life - the hardest places I have been - somehow in the sovereignty of the Almighty, I have found something beautiful and unusual, like a flower growing in a wall of rock.

I'm not sure I can name it with words, but it is the beauty of a deeper trust in my Saviour.  It is the comfort of a friend who throws His arms around me and lets me cry on His shoulder...tears that burn and sobs of anguish, anger, guilt, blame, and everything that comes with real pain.

And this friend just listens and loves.  And even more, He understands and waits to heal my broken heart.  He just wants my honesty, not my religious duty.  He sees all my human ugliness and just seems to say, "I know, you're going to be OK. I will bring you through this.  I will carry you." And all along He knows that He is going to take all of this awfulness and birth something beautiful.  He thinks, "Just hang in there, watch and see.  I can't wait to show you.  You can trust Me."

I am reminded of Peter in Matthew 16.

13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rockb I will build my church, and the gates of hellc shall not prevail against it.19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosedd in heaven.”

Jesus said that flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  Then He says upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  The "rock" was not Peter himself.  The rock was the revelation that Peter had of who Jesus really was.  When we truly get a revelation of who He really is, no power of hell will be able to overcome us, no matter how difficult a situation we face.

For me, and I'd say it's true for most, if not all believers, the greatest revelations of who Jesus really is does not generally come in the green, grassy meadows where it is tranquil and the provision is lush (though it can sometimes.)  Nor does it often come on the mountaintop where we are on top of the world (though it may.) I humbly suggest from my own experience, that most often, my greatest revelations of who God is have come in the moments where life was its hardest and its darkest.  The big revelations of who Jesus is have come when my back was against the wall and there was nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to except Jesus.

And in those moments, He holds us, and He loves us.  He accepts us where we are, no matter what we've done or not done. No matter how far we have fallen away.  He is there, and He cares.

In Matthew 7, Jesus said that the wise man should build His house upon the rock.

24“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

To me, this means building on those revelations of who He is, those truths revealed to me during the hard times.  Those are the truths that no rain can wash away, no flood can overcome, and no wind can ever blow away.  They are steadfast and immovable.  I will not build on shifting sands or things I think I know, or things I've just heard from others.  I will build upon the revelations that I have learned between the rock and the hard places in my life...the loss of loved ones, miscarriages, bankruptcy, failures, sicknesses, family struggles, the list of opportunities for God to reveal Himself are too many to name.

Don't misunderstand, God can and does reveal Himself in the good times.  I do think, however, that there is something tried, tested, and true...something deep and profound, that only comes in the heat of the fire, only in the hardest of moments.

This I know for sure, in every difficult place we find ourselves, if we allow Him, God is going to give us something beautiful.  Not an easy fix, nor money to relieve our debt, or a miraculous healing (though He sometimes does this and it's wonderful!)  What He ALWAYS desires is to give us is the revelation of Himself, of who He really is to us, even during the most difficult moments of our lives.  This is the rock He wants us to build our house on.  Somethings steadfast and immovable.  Something beautiful and unique that defies the sensible and natural way of the world.

I pray that you and I will have the courage and patience to trust and learn in the hard places of life.  May we allow God to make beauty from ashes.  May we allow Him to reveal Himself and His beauty in unexpected ways, even in the rockiest of places.