My husband Gabe just left for a five week training in the beautiful state of Texas. Most training missions require a full packing list of items required for the training. Gabe is super good at ensuring he’s got all he needs. He’s pretty particular and organized when it comes to work. He also likes to be on time or early for certain things pertaining to work so he usually gives himself an extra forty minutes. Gabe asked a friend if he would pick him up early in the morning to take him to the airport. He was going to be at the airport 1.5 hours early. His friend persuaded him to arrive only 30 minutes early since this was such a tiny airport and most likely there would only be about 30 people going through security. He didn’t want Gabe to be miserable sitting there for an extra hour. So Gabe agreed and told himself he probably needed to just relax a little.
So Gabe gets picked up and starts telling this brother in Christ how he needs to put anxiety away. Just then they hear a strange noise and feel something strange beneath the car. A tire blew out. That’s okay! His friend had a spare and the stuff to fix it. They get out the spare and his friend is having some trouble with the pliers. They’re stuck. Gabe gives it a shot and breaks them in half. At this point, Gabe’s time to make his flight is running out. His friend leaves to grab another tool and soon a cop appears. That’s when I got a call from Gabe. “Hey babe! Can you wake up the kids and get over here as fast as you can?” He was only 5 minutes down the road. The cop stayed with his friend’s car and I took Gabe to the airport. On our way, we watched as we saw his plane in the sky, just having taken off. “Gabe, God doesn’t want you on that flight.” Gabe looked at me and he agreed but he didn’t look very comforted by this. He sure wanted to be on that flight. It took about an hour to get the right people on the phone but finally Gabe had another flight scheduled. He called his friend to find out how things turned out for him. His friend was laughing. “So, I finally got the right tool and the spare tire on and then quickly realized this one was almost out of air. So then I went to start my car and it was dead.” Gabe said, “Okay, yeah. God did not want me on that flight this morning.” We had a good laugh about this. I was serious but smiling and laughing still as I told Gabe “Babe, all I can say is you better share the gospel with whoever sits next to you on that plane!”
When Gabe called me later that night after having arrived and gotten settled in his hotel I found out he definitely did share the gospel with his seat mate who was Nigerian. I thought about all of the persecution the christian nigerians are facing right now. Being killed for their faith. I prayed this seed would take root in this man and grow.
Life gives you punches, right? Jabs, pinches and blisters. Things just happen. Annoying things. We may get a little beat up by life and sadly often we get deep and painful wounds.
If anyone has lived longer than an hour they already know that life is just not a gentle breeze.
Yet we just know in the midst of this that God is there. If you find yourself in a plane, experiencing turbulence at first and then find yourself spiraling to the ground, your thought isn’t “everything is going wrong so therefore nobody made this plane.” No, that would be illogical. You would probably be thinking “Something went terribly wrong.” In the same way, we know in our heart of hearts that even though we live in a fallen world, God exists and He made us.
What if I told you that all of the turbulence is part of His plan? His amazing redemption plan?
God wants us to be one with Him. He loves us. It’s a mercy that an infinite, perfect, spotless and holy God loves us and makes Himself a father to us. Yet we cannot be one with Him or know Him as our father unless we are washed clean. Every one of us is dirty because of sin. Sin is something all of us inherit at birth because our first parents (Adam and Eve) were the first to commit a sin. Nobody teaches a child to lie. It is our instinct. So God’s amazing redemption plan is to bring us home with Him. To make us one with Him once and for all. He sent His son Jesus to live in this sinful world, overcome sin (and death) once and for all in our place. We could never do it. We could never be able to pay the fine that it cost for even one stain, one little white lie, one lustful thought before a holy God who is just. Do you see that? God is holy. One lie is a blemish that prevents us from being one with Him. He cannot partner with sin. He is also a good judge. A good judge does not let the guilty go free, no matter how regretful they are. Yet He is also a compassionate God so He sent His only Son to pay the fine in our place. Jesus took on our flesh and He lived the perfect life (the only one to be able to do this) and He was the last and final sacrificial lamb and He conquered death by rising from the grave. Can you believe that! Jesus stepped away from His glory in Heaven with the Father and took on the humble form of a man who would be tempted, accused and finally beaten and tortured to death. What love!! Jesus said referring to the prostitute who washed his feet with her hair, “whoever is forgiven much loves much.” When we realize there is nothing good in us, when we realize our wretched state, our sin that makes us God’s enemy and repent of this and trust in Jesus, trust that He has taken away our guilt once and for all then we will be one with God and saved from eternal damnation. God made a way! He loves us so mercifully!
And so in Christ life is still not a gentle breeze. Life is actually…WAY harder. And yet…it’s way sweeter. I’ll explain in just a minute.
When we are living as one with Christ and coming under submission to Him, we will be wrongly accused just as He was. We will be attacked by dark spiritual forces just as He was. We will be called to do uncomfortable things for the sake of loving others.
Evangelism is NOT comfortable.
Dying to the willing flesh is NOT comfortable.
Giving not only out of abundance but also deprivation is NOT comfortable.
Loving our enemy is NOT comfortable.
Living by the inspired Word of God instead of the world is NOT comfortable.
But these things are just the natural outcome of living as One with Christ. We grow up into these things as we mature in Christ. The more we do, in the most slight of ways in comparison we identify with Christ’ suffering. The more we identify with Christ, the sweeter the fellowship with Him. He becomes our everything. The only thing that really…matters. We’re able to let all of OUR purposes sift through our fingers as sand, like the foundation they are built upon. God’s purposes outlined in His word are our only sure foundation for anything. We long for gentle breezes in our life and yet our time here is so short. We will have gentle breezes for eternity. So what is the purpose for these short years on earth? We must realize that it’s not about us gaining a smooth life here on earth (though we most certainly experience blessings here on earth that are sweet gifts from God). The Bible shows our life hidden in Christ may actually look like what an athlete goes through.
“Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrew 12:1.
“You will be hated by everyone on account of My name, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22. (Emphasis, mine).
“Everyone who competes in the games trains with strict discipline. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable. Therefore I do not run aimlessly. I do not fight like I am beating the air. No, I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26.
I ran cross country in highschool for a short time. Cross Country races are 3.1 miles. It’s not a fast sprint. Some races flew by and others felt 10 miles long and I wondered if the race would ever end. I had to really play mind games during these races to keep myself going. In a race, you are always pushing yourself to go faster. It’s not a gentle jog. To keep up a certain pace, I would find comfort in the uncomfortable. I would focus on my breathing, or focus on my feet hitting the ground seconds apart. A gentle breeze would occasionally come and dry some of the sweat off my forehead. But you know what really made me happy and run with endurance? When my sister Nan would run with me. I love my sister! It was a joy to run along side her. She would not only would encourage me but she literally was acquainted with my current pain and guess what..I knew she would win. She always won. She always always always won! If she was running with me I knew I could make it.
In the same way, as we endure this broken world and live as missionaries here, we have the blissful and amazing comfort of Jesus’ presence! He personally knows our pain and He has won! He gave us victory! So we keep running to the end of our lives, cheering our brothers and sisters on, warning anybody and everybody of the danger at the end of life if they do not have Christ and giving Jesus the glory that we are able to run and run with endurance and inherit the kingdom! Jesus is bliss. Jesus is sweet. Jesus is with us. Far too often than I want, I just mess up. I want to give in to desires that are not Godly. I want my OWN way. Yet the giver of gentle breezes is worth far more than the breeze itself.