Lessons in the Tunnel
I was crossing a bridge on my drive home from church. With an excruciating headache, I’d left the Sunday morning service after worship, and now regretted missing the sermon. But, I was well aware the Holy Spirit could speak to me while driving home. So as I came to the bridge, I began to think about the bridge being a metaphor for Jesus — His death on a cross made a way for me to come to God. As I thanked the Lord for His sacrifice, I asked the Lord a question, “If bridges have a spiritual meaning, what about tunnels?”
Silently, I waited for an answer. Living near the Atlantic coast, you put up with two things — bridges and tunnels. I prefer bridges because you can see where you’re headed. Tunnels, I strongly dislike. But tunnels are necessary too. As I listened, the Holy Spirit had much to say on the subject.
1. Tunnels allow huge boats to cross above. When we’re in a tunnel we have no idea what’s going on above. For instance, ships too large to sail under a bridge can easily glide over a tunnel. God showed me that when we’re in a place in our lives where it may seem nothing’s happening, He is moving and shifting big things into place. God is leading us into something, but not all the pieces of the puzzle are in position yet.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9 NIV).
2. In a tunnel, I can only see directly in front of me. This is what makes me nervous about tunnels. I feel totally dependent on the car in front of me. I can’t take my eyes off his brake lights — if he slows, I must slow. I must stay completely focused. As Christians, we can be assured God is driving the car in front of us, He knows where He’s going, and all we have to do is simply follow Him. In life, sometimes we can’t see down the road. All we can see is today. Therefore, we must live today to the best of our ability, focus on the task at hand, and trust God to reveal more information in time.
Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him (Matthew 8:23).
3. In a tunnel, we can’t change lanes. Most of us have experienced God placing us in a position we didn’t choose. Sometimes, we want a new assignment, but God is saying, “Stay where you are. Stand still. Don’t move to the right or to the left. Follow Me.”
“Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes” (1 Samuel 12:16)!
So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left (Deuteronomy 5:32).
4. Once we’re in the tunnel, there’s no turning back. If we’ve committed to going into the tunnel, guess what? No U-turns. No stopping. Not even an emergency lane. In fact, if we attempt any of those things, we will cause a dangerous accident affecting everyone else in the tunnel. We’ve all known believers who turned away and quit. Look around at the damage they left behind—pain, hurt, disappointment, divorce, disease, and even death.
Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path (Psalm 44:18).
5. There’s light at the end of a tunnel. I love when light appears and I can finally see I’m almost at the end. Any anxiety I feel disappears, and I know I’m going to make it out ok.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you” (Isaiah 60:1).
6. Every tunnel takes us to the other side. What’s on the other side? Daylight, fresh air, an open sky, a panoramic view, a new place, a destination, fresh hope, and a bright future — all good things!
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
If we’re in the tunnel, it’s imperative we trust God and stay close to Him — pray, listen, and pray some more. It’s never easy or enjoyable in the tunnel, but it’s only temporary! We will make it to the other side!
United for His Glory
God makes an astounding pronouncement in Isaiah 41:5:
“Behold, I will make you into a new threshing slege.” (NKJ
When I read this, the image that immediately came to mind was of a giant harvester—a huge machine that swiftly threshes entire fields of wheat.
God has called us as His followers to serve together as a massive harvester going throughout the whole earth, gathering millions of souls for His kingdom.
At the same time, we are to be mindful of the value of each individual. In 1994, when Jesus appeared to me at the Godavari River in India, He called me by name and said: “Gordon, if you were the only one to believe, I still would have come just for you.”
That same message is also for you. Jesus would have come if you had been the only one. And when you really understand this, it changes you. It has definitely changed me.
Jesus gives us this beautiful picture in Luke 15:4-6:
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’”
Never forget that He went looking for you. And every life is a thought from God. The Apostle Paul says:
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. … For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 1:4, 2:10)
How amazing to think that God tailored events in history so that you and I would participate in this time of global harvest.
There are different styles of ministry, just as there were differences between Paul and Apollos in the New Testament. Yet Paul instructs us to be united in our labor for the Lord:
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)
This passage is wonderfully empowering and equalizing. We are all in this together. I’ve always marveled that God chose us as His fellow workers—because if I were God, I wouldn’t have. I would have chosen angels who do exactly what they’re told. They don’t argue or complain. They just obey.
Yet God has chosen us. And the amazing thing is that God believes we can do it. He has faith in us. He trusts us with the Gospel. He trusts us with the eternal destiny of other people, because they are God’s field and His building.
Sometimes we may be tempted to run away from our destiny. The task may seem overwhelming, or the things of this world may be distracting. Yet when we understand that God has nothing but good in store for us, it becomes easy to go all in and say, “Okay, God; I’ll do it your way.”
When a student asked me how to move forward with God in a certain situation, I replied, “Well, have you died today?” We all need to die daily as we do the ministry of the Lord.
Jesus tells us in Luke 9:23-24:
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
We should regularly ask ourselves, Is my life surrendered or have I taken it up again? As Hudson Taylor said, “Christ is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.”
We may be tempted to take a break from following the teachings of Jesus; however, that can cause us to miss out on what God has for us today. His thoughts are not limited to this particular moment in time. He is always thinking about eternity. We don’t want to miss any divine appointments, when the lost would turn if they could see Jesus in us in that moment.
That’s why it is important to check our motivations. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to examine our aspirations and the inner longings of our hearts. Why do we want certain things? Are they of the world or the kingdom of God? Are we working to be recognized, out of personal pride? The Bible is very clear.
Streams in the Desert – March 8
- 20238 Mar
So now, O Lord, may the promise you made about your servant and his family become a permanent reality! Do as you promised, so it may become a reality and you may gain lasting fame, as people say, ‘The Lord who commands armies is the God of Israel.’ David’s dynasty will be established before you, (1 Chr 17:23-24).
This is a most blessed phase of true prayer. Many a time we ask for things which are not absolutely promised. We are not sure therefore until we have persevered for some time whether our petitions are in the line of God’s purpose or no. There are other occasions, and in the life of David this was one, when we are fully persuaded that what we ask is according to God’s will. We feel led to take up and plead some promise from the page of Scripture, under the special impression that it contains a message for us. At such times, in confident faith, we say, “Do as Thou hast said.” There is hardly any position more utterly beautiful, strong, or safe, than to put the finger upon some promise of the Divine word, and claim it. There need be no anguish, or struggle, or wrestling; we simply present the check and ask for cash, produce the promise, and claim its fulfillment; nor can there be any doubt as to the issue. It would give much interest to prayer, if we were more definite. It is far better to claim a few things specifically than a score vaguely.
—F. B. Meyer
Every promise of Scripture is a writing of God, which may be pleaded before Him with this reasonable request: “Do as Thou hast said.” The Creator will not cheat His creature who depends upon His truth; and far more, the Heavenly Father will not break His word to His own child.
“Remember the word unto thy servant, on which thou hast caused me to hope,” is most prevalent pleading. It is a double argument: it is Thy Word. Wilt Thou not keep it? Why hast thou spoken of it, if Thou wilt not make it good. Thou hast caused me to hope in it, wilt Thou disappoint the hope which Thou has Thyself begotten in me?
—C. H. Spurgeon
“Being absolutely certain that whatever promise he is bound by, he is able also to make good” (Rom. 4:21, Weymouth’s Translation).
It is the everlasting faithfulness of God that makes a Bible promise “exceeding great and precious.” Human promises are often worthless. Many a broken promise has left a broken heart. But since the world was made, God has never broken a single promise made to one of His trusting children.
Oh, it is sad for a poor Christian to stand at the door of the promise, in the dark night of affliction, afraid to draw the latch, whereas he should then come boldly for shelter as a child into his father’s house.
Every promise is built upon four pillars: God’s justice and holiness, which will not suffer Him to deceive; His grace or goodness, which will not suffer Him to forget; His truth, which will not suffer Him to change, which makes Him able to accomplish.
You Have No Choice But to Forgive
By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13
When you think about the marks of a Christian, there is one mark that should be present, which sometimes we can too easily gloss over. That mark is forgiveness. When we need forgiveness, it is amazing how we seek after it. Yet when we must give forgiveness, sometimes we can be a little slow on the draw. Have you ever wondered why that is? One reason is we forget how much we have been forgiven, and when that happens, we can treat the act of forgiving someone else as if we are doing them a favor instead of extending grace that we ourselves have received. I want to remind you if you are going to be a true follower of Christ, then you must exercise forgiveness. You really have no choice if you truly want to follow Christ.
Why Must You Forgive?
There really is one good reason why you must forgive. Because God has forgiven you. That alone should be enough to motivate you to forgive others, and yet, many times, it is not. I want you to look back on your life for a moment and think about all the sins you have committed against God and against other people. (I would ask you to start writing them down, but you will soon discover that list is going to get very long.) Regardless of how long that list is when you came to Christ, that entire list was wiped clean. God forgave all your sins because of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for you. You don’t need any other reason to forgive someone because this one reason is enough
A Terrible Example of Forgiveness
In Matthew 18, Jesus tells the story of the unmerciful servant. Allow me to sum up the story for you. A man owed the king a debt of ten thousand bags of gold. Just for perspective, one bag of gold was the equivalent of twenty years of a day laborer’s salary. This servant owed ten thousand bags. It would have taken him two hundred thousand years to repay the debt, which means the debt was never going to be repaid. Not by him, not by his family, nor by any generations of people that came after him. However, even though he owed the king this much debt, the king chose to show him mercy and forgive his debt. This same servant then went out and found a man who owed him a hundred silver coins which was the equivalent of a day’s pay. This man could have easily repaid this debt, possibly in as little as one day. However, this servant had the man thrown in jail because he could not repay him. When the king heard this, he rebuked him and had him thrown in jail because he failed to show mercy and forgiveness for a small debt after he had received it for his big debt.
May I ask you to guess who we are in the story? By comparison, we are the man who owed a debt we would never be able to repay, and yet God, in his mercy, forgave us. After having received so much mercy, why then do we harbor unforgiveness toward those who have hurt us? Unfortunately, saying “but you don’t know what they did to me” is not good enough. If you should ever feel this way, all you have to do is remember how big your sin list was and how many times you violated God’s commands and yet today, you stand forgiven. Let me say this. There is no reason to justify not wanting to forgive someone. It does not matter what they have done. To think otherwise is to behave like this unmerciful servant forgetting how big a sin debt you really owed. Let’s not be that person.
A Practical Exercise
As you look inward today, ask the Lord to show you if there is anyone you have not forgiven, and then forgive that person. Forgiveness does not mean you forget; it means you no longer hold it against that person. When you can do that, you are operating in the grace and forgiveness you have received. I promise you will be thankful that you did.