I’ve often mentioned in my teaching that a spiritual trial is not the same as a test. A test is when a temptation may suddenly come, and we make a decision good or bad. A trial, especially a Christian trial is unique. In my book, How to Walk on Water, I go through various definitions of the word “trial”. One definition is something designed to test our quality, value, or usefulness. You know, like when a pharmaceutical company sends it’s drugs through clinical trials, like that.
Have you ever heard the term “between the devil and the deep blue sea”? Back when shipbuilders made ships out of wood, the lowermost seam in the hull of the ship was called “the devil.” It was the toughest spot to reach and awkward to repair. Since this seam was the only thing separating the ship from the deep sea, there was literally “nothing between the devil and the deep blue sea.” Obviously, if this couldn’t be repaired, there was a strong possibility the ship would sink. The phrase later symbolized being caught between two equally dangerous problems. For Christians, the grave dangers are Self and the World. Of the two, Self is probably the most dangerous and hardest to recognize. Christina G. Rossetti’s poem, “Who Shall Deliver Me?” from Poems, 1876, called Self “my hollowest friend, my deadliest foe, my clog whatever road I go.” It’s essential to crucify Self to stay afloat in our walk with the Lord.
Overcoming the dangers of Self to be good ambassadors for Christ means staying afloat. Romans 6:1-2 and 8:36 teach us that we are always dying to Self and will be until we die physically. If we build, correctly, realize that Christ is the foundation of the Christian’s experience. Self-denial is the mortar holding everything together. If a Christians stops denying Self, the growth will stop also. Self-Denial bases itself more on arresting and crucifying the lusts and desires of the old man (see Romans 6:6, John 17:15-16, Colossians 3:9, and Ephesians 4:22) than on cloistering ourselves away to avoid temptations. Killing the old man takes full surrender.
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (KJV) Ephesians 4:22
Unfortunately, too many of us take lightly complete submission to God and then wonder why we begin to sink during long stretches of troubled times. Walking with the Lord means obeying His voice. Before the Lord filled me with the Holy Spirit, He knocked on every door in my spiritual house and touched every area of my life to ask, “Do you love me more than these?” He put His finger on my attitudes and other things that didn’t match up with the teachings of Christ, including my personal philosophies, old boyfriends, clothing choices, music, places I went, and circle of friends. Even my language became a point of conversation between the Lord and me.
Once I opened my heart to the Lord, He wanted it all. It scared me to a point, and I struggled with some things more than others, but as I obeyed God, He brought such peace to my heart that I just wanted more of Him. I looked behind me and around me, and as I continued to walk in the light of His word, I found that all I wanted and needed was God. The putting off of the old man was a good thing and the things I thought I had lost were not important anymore. I was gaining a better life. Then one day when I didn’t expect it, God sent the fire of the Holy Spirit in my heart which was the beginning of a deeper religious experience.
If there is no surrender, there will be no power. Countless people have started the Christian race and stopped running because they wouldn’t completely surrender their hearts to the will of God. Complete submission to his Word is necessary for grace to rise above our circumstances. It’s a package deal. We have a covenant with God to obey His Word, and in turn, He promises to help us endure our temptations.
Our prayer should be “Lord, give me the grace to endure,” not “Lord, please take this away.”
Are You Seaworthy?
Rough seas are not always bad things. The best floatation devices we can have are prayer and obedience when we find ourselves adrift in the sea of a long-lasting trial. While the churning waves seem to be the most frightening, experienced sailors know that calm waters are more dangerous because there is no wind or movement to carry them to their destination.
The real test of a ship’s seaworthiness is the pressure it can handle in the high waves.
The pressure of the storm brings any weaknesses or flaws to the surface.
It’s under pressure that God shows us the holes that need patching, the planks that need stabilizing, and the compass that needs fixing. If we can see the holes and patch them, we can sail on, but we must work on ourselves to keep sailing.
Our usefulness to the Kingdom of God increases when we conquer ourselves. John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” should be our cry. How many of God’s people have captured the world’s attention for Christ, only to destroy their testimony with un-Christ-like behavior, causing the Gospel to be “evil spoken of”? (see 2 Peter 2:2) We have a great responsibility to let the light of Christ shine through our lives, so our goal should be to keep moving forward without dowsing that light. Even as we hurt, grieve and pray about issues, let your love for Christ shine through.