Monday, October 14, 2013

Cliches, Contentment, and Crashes

One day, I was sitting in my office. 

Yes, I realize that sounds very impressive until I tell you that my office is the long black table on the right as soon as you walk in to the Starbucks on Decatur and I-215. 

That’s my office.

Anyways! I decided that I should step out of the office for a bit, so I took out my earbuds and got in line for my third refill. In front of me in line were two ladies discussing their troubles:

"I just don't know what to do. He just lets it get worse and worse, and doesn't even do anything about it. We just need to stop going." said one lady. The other lady laid her hand on her friend's shoulder, leaned in and said,

"God will never give you more than you can handle."

At first, I thought "what a good friend. She's pointing her friend to the gospel. Way to go, venti-caramel-frappuccino-light-with-extra-caramel lady!" but the more I thought about it, the more internal conflict I had with this comforting cliche catchphrase of conversing Christians (holy alliteration, Batman!). 

Of course we have all heard this saying, but does it really have any biblical credibility? What does the bible say about this? And why did we start saying it? I searched the bible, but I couldn't find this comforting tidbit of wisdom anywhere.

It's not in the bible. At least not in the ESV, NASB, KJV, or NKJV translations.

The closest I found was 1 Corinthians 10:13:
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

but this verse is specifically about temptation. Even this verse gives the implication that the person being tempted is still in need of escape to help endure this temptation, and the provider of that escape is our faithful God.


From there, I went on looking at some of the big names of the bible: 

Job's family was murdered by bandits, his entire fortune stolen, afflicted with plates sized boils, and a very unsupportive wife. That's more than anyone could handle.

Yikes. By the way, don't Google boils. Really. Trust me on this one.

John the Baptist lived in the wilderness and was eventually executed. More than he could handle.

Paul was blinded, stoned, beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, bitten by a venomous snake; More than he could handle.

This list goes on for pages! Look at the Judges, the Apostles, anyone who followed God with their life, by human standards, were given way more than they could handle. Paul puts it beautifully:

"I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." 
(Philippians 4:10-13)
Paul tells us the summary of his life. He knows what it is be poor, to be in abundance, to be starving, to be happy, to be sad, to be beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, poisoned; he found the secret of being content in every situation: Christ. It's Christ. Paul points to Christ in his times of abundance and in the times when he is chained to a wall in prison and beaten daily. It is because Christ has empowered him. It is only through Christ could Paul even dream of enduring. It was not by his own strength or strong will could he endure these trials, but because God gave Him the strength. 

God gave Paul more than he could handle specifically for the purpose of revealing Himself through Paul's life.

Hear me out. 
People would look at Paul's life and say "there is no way that he should be where he is." and that is exactly correct. God empowered him and brought him where he was.

If God never gave us more than we could handle, then we would never really need God. As our creator, he wants us to rely on Him in the same way a parent wants their children to rely on him. 

When I was younger, a pastor named Dave Barreras said something that stuck with me.

"Being within the will of God is not always the safest place to be, but it is the best to be."

Pastor Dave and his wife Yvonne recently moved to Prescott, Arizona to open up a Gospel-centric Rescue Mission for homeless and families in need. Over the past year, they have faced phenomenal opposition financially, architecturally, governmentally, and physically. But they knew that they had been given the mission to serve the homeless and helpless, and they knew that being in the will of God was more important than being comfortable. They knew that alone, the two of them could not muster up the money or the support needed to accomplish this, but it is by God's providence that they have gotten this far. Being their son, I am humbled being able to watch God work miraculously in their lives and witness the creation of the Yavapai Territorial Gospel Rescue Mission.

Following God is hard. And scary. Sometimes it takes you places you're scared to go. It calls you to do things that you are not comfortable doing.
But isn't that the coolest thing? We mere humans have been empowered by God to do incredible, unimaginable things all for His glory.

We follow Christ where He leads.

I love how God leaves us lessons in His creation.

One of my favorite authors, Erwin McManus, said that followers of Christ are like rhinos.
A rhinoceros standing in one place is big and intimidating, but not necessarily dangerous; their vision is terrible, their turning radius is laughable, they're fat, and they're dirty. 
But a herd of rhinos: that's some scary stuff.

Every animal on Earth has a specific name for a group:
A herd of cattle.
A murder of crows.
A smack of jellyfish.
A committee of vultures.

A herd rhinoceros is called a crash.

A charging crash does exactly that. Crash.

When a crash of rhinos get charging in a group, each rhino can only see the rhino in front of it, following wherever it leads knowing that wherever they are going, nothing will stand in their way. Once that fat, grey tank gets rolling, it has enough momentum behind it to run straight through a building. Now imagine the power of fifty.

We are like a crash of rhinos. 

When we drop our head and follow Christ, there is nothing that can stop us. As hard as a brick wall is, when we follow the leader, Christ, we run straight through it.

When Christ is the leader, we know that no matter what we encounter, Christ encountered it first and overcame. 

We are unstoppable. 

We have been empowered by Christ for the purpose of magnifying His eternal qualities.

Paul, Job, dad, you, me, we all have been given the chance to follow Christ on a crazy adventure and overcome unspeakable odds. 

Nate T B