Learning To Allow Our Life Challenges To Become Our School!
No, I have learned in whatever condition I am, to be independent of circumstances. I am schooled to bear the depths of poverty; I am schooled to bear abundance. In life as a whole, and all its circumstances, I have mastered the secret of living – how to be the same amidst repletion and starvation, amidst abundance and privation. I am equal to every lot through the help of Him who gives me inward strength. (Philippians 4:11 A.S.Way Translation).
The less we are ruled by circumstances and current challenges, the more spiritually mature we become. Babies whine and cry when they don’t get their way. And as we mature, we learn to handle conflict and difficulty without complaint, and we learn how to go with the flow. That’s not easy if we’re mostly motivated by feelings.
Real spirituality is allowing the Word of God to rule us from the inside out. Being Word conscious keeps us from being led by circumstance alone. Walking in the spirit, that is, letting our spiritual nature within us rule us, keeps us from yielding to feelings. And walking in the spirit is really allowing the Word of God to gain control over our minds, our emotions, and our will. When this happens, the Word is more important to me than what my thoughts and feelings tell me.
Many years ago,while pioneering a church in a small town, I was in need of extra money to pay some personal bills. I knew that Jesus said in Mark 11:24: Whatever you desire when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. I asked God specifically for the amount I needed to pay the bills and carried on with life. Day after day went by and the bills were in a stack on my desk at home. Everytime I looked at them or thought about them, I reminded God of His promise to answer prayer, and I told Him that I believed that I received the money when I prayed at the bills. One day, I received a check in the mail from a friend that I had not heard from in a long time who lived on the West coast. The money I had asked for was right there in my hand.
I have had so many experiences just like this, where life seemed impossible, but I chose to put God’s Word ahead of my thoughts and feelings. And every time, I overcame the difficulty. I have seen this happen not only with finances, but with physical challenges, circumstantial challenges, mental and emotional challenges, and in all kinds of challenges with people and relationships. When you learn to put God’s Word ahead of thoughts and feelings, it is amazing how God works things out for you! He honors His Word!
Our spiritual nature is amazing. It is capable of being developed just as a bodybuilder develops his muscles. Our spirit nature can become dominant and become a driving force from within to guide us through difficult times. As we grow and develop spiritually, we learn how to live without allowing circumstances to completely rule us from without.. We learn to let the Word of God set the precedent and determine how we respond to each challenge life brings.
The first step of course is the new birth, which is our spirit nature being transformed from the darkness of sin to spiritual life in Christ. Then, we must begin the process of renewing our minds with the Word of God, so that our five senses don’t completely take us over and rule over the life of Jesus deep within.
Then, we must make the decision to act on the Word throughout the day instead of letting outward circumstances and feelings rule us. We learn to simply refuse to allow emotions to control us.
So a spiritually controlled person can be full of joy when needs seem to be unmet, when outward circumstances are cutting and difficult. That’s because the spiritually minded person is not allowing outward things to control them, that person is letting their human spirit through the Word govern their responses. This should be our goal as a Christian!
When you live this way, everyday is an adventure. The beginning verse has been like a special friend to me over the years. This is one of my goals in life, to get to the point that nothing moves me. Hard places become testimonies to the grace and faithfulness of God. They become places to prove that the Word of God is true.
Uncomfortable circumstances become a challenge that must be overcome; much like a mountain climber must conquer that foreboding height. Challenges become an inspiration to succeed.
Life is a school. We’re learning to live as Jesus lived when we refuse to be changed by outward conditions. Let’s be independent of circumstances and dependent on the Word today. This is the reason why we never collapse. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain. For we are looking all the time not at the visible things but at the invisible. The visible things are transitory: it is the invisible things that are really permanent. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 - J.B. Phillips).