Let me share with you what has been on my heart and what the Lord is working deeply into my spirit at this time.
It’s the mystery of humility, brokenness, and the cross, incarnational love to the bitter end and the triumphant new beginning. What searching of heart! Being exposed to selfishness, pride, glory-grabbing, boastful servanthood, and deceptions of the heart is both painful and humiliating! How the Spirit lays bare the uncircumcised heart! Crucifixion, love’s merciful end to sin and means to sanctification, is ghastly and final! Self love, the last to die, makes us afraid of mortification (John 12:24-26). The cross is not only to wear around our neck, sing about, or remember only as a historical event. The cross is a place to die! Only in “death” (I Cor. 15:31) can one experience the resurrection power and life of Christ (Phil. 3:10).
The pride of seeking the honor of men (John 5:41,44; 12:43; Prov. 16:18), the destructive power of success (II Chron. 26:16; 32:25), strife (party-spirit) and vain glory (Phil. 2:1-5) so often become the motivational powers in the Kingdom of God! It is this false wisdom that is “earthly, sensual, and devilish” (James 3:14-18). How deadly and devastating is the “touching of the Ark syndrome”! All with good motives (to help God out, to protect His good name, etc.), we who are accustomed to the manner and ways of the “goings of God” can assume ownership and the place of God. Oh, the arrogance and deceitfulness of our “humility” (II Cor. 4:10,11)! Washing feet is still a “dirty” and humiliating work, yet the servant is not above his Lord (Matthew 10:24). “Lord, change me …”
“Things that are not,” empty vessels, nothing, thorns, “filth and spectacles of the world,” mangers, little maids, servants, foolish things, bushes, unknowns, pitchers, things that are weak, and thorns are still God’s tools for ministry. Pinnacles are places of vision but also of greatest temptation (Isaiah 14:12-15). One does not fall from lowly places. Emptying of self is God’s preequisite for His filling and exaltation. (James 4:6-10) Self-reliance is a defiance of God. (John 15:5) Most of us would rather be ruined by praise than humbled by reproof. Oh, the pride of walk, face, look, dress, ministry, intellect, success, size, title, degree, edifice and monuments, ministry and attitudes. Oh, for the “covering” mantle, the “swaddling clothes” of death’s victory!
Can God’s character be perfected by us? In one sense, yes! How can that be? The Scriptures tell us that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (II Corinthians 12:9)! What a thought! What a challenge to magnify God through our weakness! To glory in the cross alone (Gal. 6:14, I Cor. 1:29)!