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Jesus said to his disciple, Peter, “‘I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, ‘Follow me!'” (John 21:18-19)
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.” (2 Corinthians 5:10-11)
Submission to the breaking from the hand of my Master, Jesus, is one of the deepest works God has done in me.
The Christian life is a constant paradox of dying/losing our self-centered, carnal, earthly life in order to gain our eternal, spiritual life. As we walk with Jesus, he brings us into deeper levels of submission and deeper levels of breaking. Dying to self is the only way Christ’s powerful spiritual life can be manifested in us. There is no other way.
Though many of us consider ourselves absolutely surrendered to God, he often reveals even deeper rebellions within us that we couldn’t see when we first surrendered.
I considered myself absolutely surrendered to God. However, after a series of several severely painful and difficult trials, I had thoroughly had enough and didn’t want to surrender to the suffering anymore. I was surrendered up to a point, but when the intensity of the pain pushed me beyond the threshold of my surrender, and so I rebelled against God.
In the middle of this trial (one of the most severe I had ever experienced), I foolishly told God that I would rather die. I preferred death and rebellion–even alienation from God–rather than a life of surrender to God and suffering because my pain was so intense. Like Jonah, I wanted to be thrown overboard so that I could drown in the depths of the sea.
Figuratively speaking, as soon as I jumped overboard, however, God provided a whale to swallow me. I was very angry when I found it impossible to continue my rebellion and flee from God! I was suspended in absolute agony within the belly of that whale. I wanted to rebel against God and escape from him, but I could not! I found that even “…if I make my bed in the depths, you [God] are there” (Psalm 139:8).
So from there in the belly of the whale, I came to the humbling realization that the only way out was through. God, the Master and Lord of my life, would not have it any other way, and even though I desperately tried to escape from him, I realized there was no other way out of the trial than through submitting to him. With all my heart, I knew I had to accept and submit to the breaking from the hand of my Master.
Rebellious as I was, God still spoke to me tenderly, reminding me of the extreme sufferings his Son went through and how he submitted to torture and was faithful unto death. He reminded me that, “…Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Out of his submission to the Father came exceeding glory, life and power that far outweighed his suffering, even though it was excruciating.
“Yet it was the LORD’S will to crush him [Jesus] and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied…” (Isaiah 53:10-11)
“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2)
(See also 2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
As soon as I submitted to him breaking me, I was released from the trial. I found peace, I found rest and I found life.
This revelation was one of the largest and most monumental in my life thus far. Since this event, God has brought me into similar situations, and I am sure there are many more to come.
However, now that I know I cannot escape through rebellion and that the only way out is through submission to God, I give up a lot sooner. Like an ox, I’ve realized, “…It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14). It is completely futile to try and run from God and succeed in rebelling against him. It is actually impossible for the saint. We inevitably must submit to him at one point or another. The longer we delay our submission, the more we prolong our agony. As soon as we submit to the breaking, we will find peace and life.
God also gave me deep revelation of 1 Peter 1:6-7 and 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 during this time. Trials and suffering are designed to bring us to our faith ‘thresholds’–the end of our ‘natural’ selves so that the supernatural life of Christ will be manifest in us. It’s a continual process in our Christian life because perfecting our faith (Hebrews 12:2) is one of God’s eternal purposes for us.
May God grant us grace.
“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42)
(See also “Gethsemane: Not My Will, But Your Will Be Done” (Believer’s Road Series), “Sacrifice: The Fragrance of Worship” (Praise and Worship Series 2), “Take Up Your Cross” (John the Baptist Artworks Series), “The All Surpassing Power in Jars of Clay” (Believer’s Road Series) and “The All Surpassing Power in Jars of Clay (Study)” (Believer’s Road Series).)