16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
As the disciples were commanded, you should also say nothing until the Son of Man has risen in you— until the life of the risen Christ so dominates you that you truly understand what He taught while here on earth. When you grow and develop the right condition inwardly, the words Jesus spoke become so clear that you are amazed you did not grasp them before. In fact, you were not able to understand them before because you had not yet developed the proper spiritual condition to deal with them.
Our Lord doesn’t hide these things from us, but we are not prepared to receive them until we are in the right condition in our spiritual life. Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). We must have a oneness with His risen life before we are prepared to bear any particular truth from Him. Do we really know anything about the indwelling of the risen life of Jesus? The evidence that we do is that His Word is becoming understandable to us. God cannot reveal anything to us if we don’t have His Spirit. And our own unyielding and headstrong opinions will effectively prevent God from revealing anything to us. But our insensible thinking will end immediately once His resurrection life has its way with us.
“…tell no one….” But so many people do tell what they saw on the Mount of Transfiguration— their mountaintop experience. They have seen a vision and they testify to it, but there is no connection between what they say and how they live. Their lives don’t add up because the Son of Man has not yet risen in them. How long will it be before His resurrection life is formed and evident in you and in me?
Their strength is to sit still. (Isa. 30:7).
In order really to know God, inward stillness is absolutely necessary. I remember when I first learned this. A time of great emergency had risen in my life, when every part of my being seemed to throb with anxiety, and when the necessity for immediate and vigorous action seemed overpowering; and yet circumstances were such that I could do nothing, and the person who could, would not stir.
For a little while it seemed as if I must fly to pieces with the inward turmoil, when suddenly the still small voice whispered in the depths of my soul, “Be still, and know that I am God.” The word was with power, and I hearkened. I composed my body to perfect stillness, and I constrained my troubled spirit into quietness, and looked up and waited; and then I did “know” that it was God, God even in the very emergency and in my helplessness to meet it; and I rested in Him.
It was an experience that I would not have missed for worlds; and I may add also, that out of this stillness seemed to arise a power to deal with the emergency, that very soon brought it to a successful issue. I learned then effectually that my “strength was to sit still.”
–Hannah Whitall Smith
There is a perfect passivity which is not indolence. It is a living stillness born of trust. Quiet tension is not trust. It is simply compressed anxiety.
Not in the tumult of the rending storm,
Not in the earthquake or devouring flame;
But in the hush that could all fear transform,
The still, small whisper to the prophet came.
0 Soul, keep silence on the mount of God,
Though cares and needs throb around thee like a sea;
From supplications and desires unshod,
Be still, and hear what God shall say to thee.
All fellowship hath interludes of rest,
New strength maturing in each poise of power;
The sweetest Alleluias of the blest
Are silent, for the space of half an hour.
0 rest, in utter quietude of soul,
Abandon words, leave prayer and praise awhile;
Let thy whole being, hushed in His control,
Learn the full meaning of His voice and smile.
Not as an athlete wrestling for a crown,
Not taking Heaven by violence of will;
But with thy Father as a child sit down,
And know the bliss that follows His “Be Still!”
–Mary Rowles Jarvis
Unloading the Baggage
“Throw off anything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” Hebrews 12:1
I boarded the plane in Chicago with too much baggage. Not the kind of baggage you stow in the overhead compartment or squash under the seat in front of you. Not even the kind you check in at the airline desk. This was the kind of baggage that weighs your heart down and that, if carried around, leaves you emotionally and spiritually exhausted. An unexpected attack from a trusted friend had left me deeply upset and really confused about how to respond.
As the flight attendants went through their pre-flight checklist, I was lost in thought world thinking through all my options. Feeling betrayed and unjustly wronged, I had a long list of possibilities—the kind of responses that seemed very natural to my fallen heart—but they were the types of choices that were wrapped in the old revenge, self-protection, and “I don’t get mad, I just get even” kind of stuff.
As we taxied out to the runway, I knew I needed a second opinion. So I simply prayed, “God, I need you to talk to me. I desperately need your wisdom. You brought this into my life for a purpose, but I don’t know what to do next.”
As the plane climbed, I began to feel closer to God. Not physically closer (although praying above the clouds at 35,000 feet does lend a different perspective), but spiritually closer as He began to share His wisdom with me from Matthew 5. My natural thoughts and desires to fight back and demand my rights were replaced with Jesus’ instruction to “turn the other cheek,” to “go the extra mile,” to “bless those who curse me” (Matthew 5:38-48).
Of course, my human nature continued to argue for a while. “But, God, I’ll feel so weak. I’ll feel like a pushover, a weakling. I need to fight for myself.” The reality is, my pride wanted to keep the baggage. My ego wanted to hang on to the situation and try to deal with it through human, natural, flawed means. Trusting the Lord’s wisdom would mean that I no longer had control of the situation.
But God in His grace reminded me of the surrender of Christ on the cross. He drew me to the fact that, for Jesus, the path to glory was the path of surrender and letting go. The one who is the Lion of Judah is also the Lamb that was slain. And God drew me to that point of decision once again. Was I going to manage this situation to my advantage or was I going to release it, in trust and obedience, to Him?
I am thankful to say that when the plane landed in New York, I left some baggage on it. I walked through the terminal without the heaviness of heart that comes from fighting for my own rights. I headed for my hotel free of the weight of bitterness that the enemy was trying to stir up in my soul. God had renewed my strength and the weariness was gone.
Let me invite you to the privilege of waiting on the Lord. As Isaiah 40:28reminds us, God never grows weary. His wisdom never runs out. His power, His might, and His truth are available and accessible to His children. You don’t need to walk another step with that load of fear, guilt, anger, bitterness, or confusion.
Check your carry-on baggage. Surrender it to Him and then seek His wisdom to strengthen and direct you.
It makes the journey so much more enjoyable!