Dream Word – FORMATION
>2 Corinthians 12:1-8
“It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago — whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows — such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man — whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows — how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.” NKJV.
How not to become a cold turkey Christian
It was Dallard Willard I believe, who called the formation of Christ in His disciple as “The Daring Goal of The Christian Life”. I believe that. For this side of heaven, the seemingly un-closable gap between our real and stated position with Jesus in the high and well sanctified, most holy and happy heavenlies, and our experience of that same position while we walk down here on earth, makes for a very tough journey and is the cause of so much mocking laughter both from within the church and without, especially in the cold light of pain, sin and loss. Yes, it is only the solid formation of Jesus in the centre of our selves, in the middle of the way of our earthly sojourn, which shall remove such laughing from the rear of our ears forever. Indeed, the formation of Christ in us is the only way to close the gap of our position in Christ with the facts of our experience here under this setting sun.
Formation and maturing takes time, that and a great deal of spiritual chiselling. The time and pain from moving from a seemingly observed apparition to that of an experienced acquisition of “Christ in us the hope of glory”, is the very journey which we are on. Yes, like it or not, in terms of our spiritual formation, we are on a journey of both time and pain. All of us of course, especially in the dark and lonely valleys of such a spiritual journey, long for a short cut, long for a fast track, a by pass if you will, of such formational difficulty. Unfortunately, there is none. Let me say it again: “there is none”.
Whilst of course spiritual formation cannot take place this side of heaven without the combination of time and chiselling pain, that and whole lot more besides I might add, there is however, a blessing which is so full of grace and preciousness, which is so dear to us that, when we get it, we often mistake it for the longed for holy grail of “fast track” spiritual formation! The blessing I refer to is of course, the special visitations of the manifest presence of God.
Yes, as the Holy spirit continues His unrelenting task of forming Christ in us for the glory of God the Father, we are sometimes privileged to have the special visitations of the felt and manifest presence of “Christ in us, the hope of glory”. Some of the physical manifestations of that manifest presence in us, are often so powerful and so precious, that they become in our lives, land marks of directional change, even forming the very feathers of flight for our pointed arrows of now purposeful direction. This is wonderful, this is a precious blessing, but I say again and my friends do not be misled here, it is not spiritual formation!
If there ever was a downside to the special visitations of the manifest presence of Jesus in our lives, it is that for so many of us, we can become spiritual sugar junkies, hopelessly hooked on the energetic excitement caused by the release of spiritual charged endorphins that such visitations often bring with them. There is danger here of course, for there are a multitude of spiritual drugs which can produce such a similar high. Do not mishear me now, but dare I suggest that the devil is often a dealer in such diverting drug use. I tell you, that if the highs of His presence, continues to be experienced without the depth of His continued and daring spiritual formation, then you have been deceived and my friend, you have become a junkie instead of a disciple and the cold turkey of your recovery, shall either make you, or shall break you.
Often times, the rigours of our journey demand nothing short of the manifest presence of God in our lives, in all His various ministrations! However, these times are not the tools, neither are they the goal of our spiritual formation but rather, they are the sometimes booster rocket blessings of fresh inertia, appearing in our being and ultimately manifesting themselves in our changed and refocused direction.
Remember tonight then , that such precious and often times, vital visitations, may change our trajectory and may somewhat sooth our way, but they shall never, and I mean never, “fast track” our journey of spiritual formation. In light of this, don’t become a cold turkey kind of Christian forced to always be seeking spiritual highs! The devil’s a great drug dealer in this kind of rubbish. Press on daily in all the providences of God, knowing that it is Christ who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure. Have faith in this great fact.
Listen: “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NKJV)
Pray: On this our journey dear Jesus, feed us with sufficient grace! And now and then O Lord, take us to heaven that we might feast with You on words inexpressible. In Your great name we ask it, amen.
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