We always make the fatal mistake of thinking that it is what we do that matters, when really what matters is what we let God do to us. God sent the angel to Mary, not to ask her to do something, but to let something be done. Since God is a better artisan than you, the more you abandon yourself to him, the happier he can make you.
~Archbishop Fulton Sheen
Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things! Fear not, you beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and vine give their full yield. “Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God, for He has given the early rain for your vindication; He has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. “The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, My great army, which I sent among you. “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you. And My people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else. And My people shall never again be put to shame. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out My Spirit.
~ from Joel 2
Oh beloved, it is true.
The Christian Life seems to be two different things. Or, at least something like two different seasons.
The first season is better understood. This is when we come to understand that we have indeed fallen short of the glory of G_d. We are broken about this. And in coming to understand that our sins are many, and our need is great, He meets us right there. He forgives our sins, and our eternal destiny is made secure in Him. Some people stop there, and never move into this next season. This is a tragedy.
The second season is where the mystery comes in. Oh, it is real. But, it can play our very differently in different people’s lives. Theologians across various traditions have spoken to this along the lines of “being filled with the Holy Spirit,” or “a second act of grace,” or “holiness,” or “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” However, this part of the mystery of the gospel is just that: a mystery.
Still, it is possible to see what the mystery looks like. We can see it within our own lives and the lives of others.
Before we first met Him, our entire lives were an ongoing process of destruction. Our sins were taking our lives and making them into chaos. We devoured our relationships and our potential. But, in our first sincere act of repentance and belief, He rains down on us mercies that continue to be new every day.
However, G_d being G_d, He always has something more for us.
Somehow, by His grace, we come to understand that the sins we committed were indeed bad. But, we at first did not understand that those sins had a factory that was manufacturing them. We came to find that the problems was not sins, but sin. Sins (the things we have done wrong) were promoted first, by sin (that condition within myself, the “me” within myself that rebels against his creator).
It is here, where the second mystery of our salvation can be seen.
Can we see it?
The problem is not the sins we have committed. The problem is the me that is generating the sins. It is a terrible discovery. And even though we have been saved from our sins, we sense our complete helplessness. We need more. So then, herein comes the latter rains of His Spirit.
In our terrible plight; in our understanding of our need for more, we come up on another decision. But this one is harder than just realizing that we have done great wrong and need SomeOne to forgive us. No, we come to understand we need to not only be saved from our sins, we need to be saved from our very own self.
However, in coming to this understanding, we see that there really is only one decision to make. We are faced with the reality that the only way is for me to actually give up my rights to my own life and plans and existence and everything else. I am faced with the need of total and abject surrender to the One who has forgiven me.
It is here, where it gets different for everyone, but the point is still the same. For each of us, there is that one last thing that we need to put into His hands. We need to give it all away, that we might be able to receive the freedom His Spirit can bring to us.
But when we do. Oh!!! Everything is different. We now find that it is not I who am living my life, but the very Author of Life Himself, living Life in and through me. And this life brings fruit and abundance and freedom I never thought possible.
So, are you one of those guys who have just been forgiven of your sins? This is a vital and wonderful start. However, many of you are sensing that there is more. There is. Oh beloved, the early rains of His mercy have washed your sins away, but the latter rains of His amazing grace are waiting to set you free from that old man who has dogged you to this moment.
Tonight is your night. Time to enter the second season of your salvation.
In true worship the Father must be first, must be all. The sooner I learn to forget myself in the desire that HE may be glorified, the richer will the blessing be that prayer will bring to myself. No one ever loses by what he sacrifices for the Father.
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing to You, And my soul, which You have redeemed. Psalm 71:23