Both success and failure can bring us to the end of ourselves. Bold courage and paralyzing fear can accomplish the same results. These extremes can produce crises of faith and of confidence in our course of action. That these polar opposites can accomplish the same effect is a mystery of human nature.
We are made in the image of God and at the same time broken creatures made to return to the dust from whence we came. We are fragile. That is one reason these wildly divergent experiences can produce a similar result. Each situation exceeds our frail limitations.Both success and failure can bring us to the end of ourselves. Bold courage and paralyzing fear can accomplish the same results. Click To Tweet
We see each of these results in two biblical stories. One is the story of Elijah’s response to the great victory that God provided over the prophets of Baal. The rain fell. God answered his prayer, yet a threat from Jezebel afterward sent him running as far away as was humanly possible.
The other story is of Jacob’s return to his homeland, which he faced full of terror at his brother Esau’s coming revenge, a fierce anger that Jacob expected to rob him of children and wives and all he had accomplished over decades. Jacob had to wrestle all night with God himself, sustaining a lifelong limp as a result, so that he might proceed thoroughly cleansed of the deception that was his fallback tactic during young manhood.
The Lord must allow us to come to the end of ourselves before we can hear him in the quiet whisper and see him in the face of even our enemy our brother. Thundering triumph and utter physical ruin and terror – both will do equally well for accomplishing this necessary growth.The Lord must allow us to come to the end of ourselves before we can hear him in the quiet whisper and see him in the face of even our enemy. Click To Tweet
Will we see God? Will we believe that he does all things well? Can we discern that he truly works to bring good even within the cancer, the death, the relocation, the victory, the flood, or the chronic debilitating illness that chisels us away one fleck of stone at a time?
This is why we must wrestle with him in the darkness with unhinged and broken bodies and minds, why, after our highest of highs, we must hide in terror within a cave in the farthest reaches of the earth, begging him to simply allow us to die.
This is why we must face down the false prophets raving with madness only to gain the victory and then to have our confidence snuffed out by another human being’s utterance.
We must see the true God for who he is.
He is and always will be supreme over all of these moments. He is more authentic than what we see with our eyes and feel upon our skin. His desire for us is all consuming, and for us he allowed himself to suffer separation within his own unity, utter humiliation, and the worst agony devised by humankind.
This is love we cannot understand. But we must catch a glimmer.
These glimpses can only happen when we are at the end of ourselves, when we’ve surpassed all we can comprehend or accomplish. Only then can we spy him there patiently waiting with his eye keen upon us and his arms open wide.
Do you see him there?