Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Knowing Jesus Is Better Than Life

How do we respond when God calls us to walk through trials that result in significant pain and heartache?

Josh McPherson, the pastor at Grace Covenant Church, beautifully articulates in his sermon, which you can listen to or read, the work that God has done in his heart since his first daughter was born with Spina Bifida seven years ago.

First, God redefined the word tragedy for him.

Then one day the Lord spoke to me very clearly. It was as if He said, “Josh, you’re looking at it all wrong. Tragedy is not your daughter growing up with two legs that don’t work. Tragedy is your daughter growing up with two legs that work, and walking away from me in her heart. Tragedy is her growing up with two legs that work, and her finding identity in how fast those legs carry her around a track, rather than finding her identity in my Son who carried her sins on His shoulders.”

Second, God helped him to see that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

This truth compelled me and freed me to, at any cost, pursue my joy in Christ so hard that no pain could shake it, and no earthly pleasure could compete with it. More than that, it worked the other way around too. Not only was God most glorified in me when I was most satisfied in He was more glorified, my heart was more satisfied! What an amazing truth! No longer did I have to fear God gaining glory out of my life in whatever way He saw fit as if He was taking His pound of flesh...rather, I now realized that the more glory He gained in my life the more ultimate and deeper and greater my experience of MY JOY! God’s desire to be glorified and my desire to be satisfied WERE NOT AT ODDS. They came together in the glory of Jesus. THAT was a freeing truth that I will ever be grateful to John Piper for helping me see.

Third, he simply could not get away from the relentless and consistent testimony of Scripture that God is over all things.

So I begin to see from all over the Scriptures, from the smallest detail of life, to the most epic event in the history of mankind, God was governing them all for his good purposes. And we've been seeing how true that is in our study of Acts. Good, evil, happy, sad, glory, despair, gladness, pain, suffering, brokeness, pleasure, Christian, pagan, the Lord over sees it all. Nothing happens that does not happen in His world, where He reigns supreme.

Upon discovering last December that his son would soon also be born with Spina Bifida, the work of God in Josh's life over the past seven years is evident as he penned this beautiful letter.

So son, we believe you are a part of God’s plan for our life, and more importantly, a part of God’s plan for his glory. (And that’s good news for us...more joy!) 

You are not a mistake. You are not a statistic. You are not a tragedy or an accident. You are not an inconvenience. You will not be defined by a birth defect. You are God’s craftsmanship, you have been hand-knitted in your mother’s womb to his perfect and exact specifications, and you are our son. 

We’re already proud of you, and have big expectations for how the Lord will use you in our lives and those of others. God is giving you a unique opportunity to display His glory, and we count it a great gift that He would choose to give that opportunity to us. Yours will be a life that God will use like a megaphone to wake up a deaf world. Knowing Jesus is better than life. 

You haven’t even arrived yet, and you’re already teaching us more about God’s grace, just like your older sister did. You are already a gift. It will be one of my greatest privileges to be your father, and to teach you in whatever capacity your mind can grasp, what it means to be a man, to love the Lord, to follow Jesus, and to run with all your might the race of faith He’s marked out for you. Your mother, and your siblings are very anxious to get you here, so hurry it up. 

Oh, and son, I know some things will be hard when you get here. That’s ok. We’ll work through them together. And when you ask me, I’ll be ready with the answer... “God sits enthroned in the Heavens, and He does all that He pleases.” And it pleased Him to make you, exactly how He did. Because He wanted you to experience the joy of Him using your life to glorify Himself. What a privilege son. Counted worthy to glorify Jesus. What an honor. 

And there’s even better news. It may get a little tough while you’re here, but check this’s our family’s favorite verse. It’s found in the last book of the Bible, talking about the end of the story as God writes it, and trust me, you are going to LOVE what it says: 

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. 

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Rev. 21:5 

That includes me, and your sister, and you. So take hope, be a man, and remember son, 

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

 I can't wait to see yours, 

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