I was encouraged as a seventeen year old, zealous new believer to get to know my Bible and to get to know Charles Spurgeon. Yes, I've contemplated getting that image of him with a huge Bible opened, massive beard, and smoking pipe in hand placed upon my study wall even though it might freak out some of my baptist friends! I give the same encouragement to young guys starting their ministry or manhood journey - be pastored by the Word and by a pastor of pastors. For the past few weeks, I've been highlighting some of my favorite CHS quotes on Facebook and Twitter, which has resulted in a lot of conversation and soul stirring.
This particular quote reminds me of the life of Jeremiah--the weeping prophet.
[Tweet ""The Lord gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction." CHS"]
Check out Jeremiah 12:5.
Jeremiah was hated by his family. God told him that no one was going to listen to his message, but he still needed to preach in the temple square, the streets, and everywhere else God directed. Other prophets of the day were saying that everything was great - "Peace! Peace!" (Jeremiah 6:13-14) while they filled their pockets and their bellies, tickling the ears of people who had a dead religion.
The people of God were trusting in the rituals instead of the Redeemer,
the practices instead of the Presence,
the place of worship instead of the Person of worship.
Yet, God called Jeremiah to breakdown, pluck up, and stir up the fallowed ground so that something could be planted and rebuilt.
Jeremiah, understandably, is whining to God. Instead of the encouraging message of self-help--"You're great! You're wonderful, and everyone likes you" or Bob Marley jamming in the background with "Don't Worry...everything is gonna be alright" - God tells him to buck up.
God tells him that it's going to get worse.
Are you serious?
You mean to tell me that God didn't send him a throw pillow or a vacation package? God didn't respond to the angst with a flowery, sweet message.
God tells him, "If the footmen have exhausted you, then what are you going to do when the horsemen show up?"
Jeremiah got served.
I love this about God -
He doesn't give false hope.
He doesn't lie.
He doesn't act like everything is okay when it really isn't okay.
While it may seem a bit harsh to those of you that have the hipster, blue sash wearing version of Jesus,
great-grandpops version of Father God,
or an emotional experience driven view of the Spirit--there are a few things to remember:
God had prepared Jeremiah for this. Take a second and read Jeremiah 1:6-7
God told Jeremiah that He was going to be with Him, that he would fortify him, and that he shouldn't be afraid (Jeremiah 1:10; Jeremiah 1:17-19)
Let it be observed here in the life of Jeremiah and in countless other biblical men and women, the presence of God is a means of fulfilling the calling of God. Let it also be clear, God's calling and God's presence does not mean a lack of trouble. Walking with Jesus is not a call to a happy, trouble free life. You're following Jesus - He went to a cross. He went there on mission so that others may be ransomed and redeemed. Could our aversion to trouble and risk be related to our inefficiency as disciple-makers?
Child of God, the wounds of affliction will result in the scars. Scars that remind you of the faithfulness of God in the midst of trouble. In the life of the child of God, what he tears, he heals. He renews.
Jeremiah looked forward to a new covenant, warrior King - one that controls the footmen, horsemen, fighter jets, and unmanned drones. Jeremiah looked forward to the blood of Jesus that renders the powers of Hell and the schemes of man inefficient and confounded.
Are the footmen upon you?
Have you grown battle weary?
Do you hear the chariots coming down the pike?
If not, then there is a whole slew of other things we need to talk about... but not here and not now.
If yes, well child of God,
He is with you.
He is pulling a James 1:2-4 proof of faith for you.
He is highlighting a Romans 5:3-5 "love of God poured out through the Holy Spirit" for you.
He is strengthening you with His grace in Jesus.
Soldier on, Christian. Soldier on.
[Tweet ""He is strengthening you with His grace in Jesus. Soldier on, Christian. Soldier on.""]