The Great Exchange
The martyred missionary Jim Elliott once wrote, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Over the past several months I have been catching up on reading and studying trying to make sense of some of the recent events that have challenged my life and thinking. I'm still processing everything, but I don't want to miss the opportunity to at least pen, some thoughts for my own reflection later.
I'm learning more about a great exchange that God is making with me and all of creation. In some ways its very obvious, but what may be profound is that it isn't often realized until it is experienced. The exchange goes like this:
- I bring him my sorrows he gives me his joy
- I bring him my loses He gives me His gains
- I bring him my sins, He gives me His righteousness
- I bring him my deaths and He gives me His life.
But the only reason God can give me his life is because He gave me His death.
Time and time again in scripture we see this play out and we are encouraged about what God does in the lives of his people. Sometimes we find it easier to see the will of God at work in someone else's life than we do our own. Would you like to have the story of Daniel without the lion's den? Of course not, because we know the end of the story. Well, each Christian has a book full of wonderful stories like that and the end of every single one of them is the same. It's God's sovereign activity in our lives. Would you like to have the story of Joseph without all his trials and tribulations, Without his going into the pit? What would we ever know of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego if they never had gone into the fiery furnace? Paul was able to sing in prison, and wrote those prison letters filled with such joy. We like those stories because there is a triumphant ending of God's work in their lives. The same is true for each of us.
I haven't fully grasped everything yet what the Lord is teaching during this season. But He is calling my memory to better understand the scriptural metaphors for suffering. Think with me, the best fruit comes out of the most drastic pruning. The purest gold comes out of the hottest fires. And the greatest joys come out of the greatest sorrow. Life comes out of death. If you lose your life for His sake, you'll find it.
There is no redemptive work done anywhere with out suffering. The scripture has some amazing paradoxes of how God transforms his people; I made a list of a few
- The wilderness into pasture
- Deserts to springs
- Perishable into imperishable
- Weakness into power
- Humiliation into glory
- Poverty into riches
- Beauty for ashes
I suppose there is a great exchange for everyone who is willing to make the deal. I began with a quote from Jim Elliott, I will close with a quote from Elizabeth Elliott, Jim's wife, that continued with the mission in Ecuador and Peru that her husband began. " Whatever is in the cup that God is offering to me, whether it be pain and sorrow and suffering and grief along with the many more joys, I'm willing to take it because I trust Him." Whatever comes our way, I will accept it because I trust Jesus.