“Is there anyone who fails?
Is there anyone that falls?
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small?”
(“Stained-Glass Masquerade”, Casting Crowns)
Failed any tests lately?
I have, and since these posts are designed to give you a peek into my life with all its “zits and glamour” I feel compelled to tell you about it. First, let me back up and offer some background…
The Lord spoke a word into my heart the other morning. The interesting thing is that I was fast asleep when He visited my repose. In all my years of journeying with my Christ, there has never been an occasion such as this. Mind you, I am not speaking of a dream or vision, but a penetrating word. The word was so invasive and true to its mark that in the twilight between slumber and waking, I was roused with the word repeating on my lips.
Before we move forward, allow me to share the word with you: “with each trial comes an opportunity for us to witness and participate in the greatest setbacks in the kingdom of darkness.”
I kid you not. I know that sounds all cleaned up, polished and rehearsed, but that is the message the Lord put to my heart and I share it with you in all its straightforwardness and simplicity. As for what it means, aside from it being a tried and true scriptural axiom and a general truth altogether, I cannot say. I know it means something and I am charged with treasuring it in my heart.
I have come to know several things about trials in my time. This October will mark the 25th anniversary of a severe trial that left me paralyzed in the lower two-thirds of my body and the injury (a fall from a cliff) introduced me to life from a wheelchair. The view has been amazing from these four wheels!
That, in a nutshell, is the “glamour” part of my life, if you could call it that (actually, I would). Now for the “zits” that have recently popped up (pun intended?). Not long ago, I faced a trial that gave me an opportunity to show the spiritual world (Ephesians 3:10) and those closest to me that He (being God) is enough, that this life has no hold on me, that I am an overcomer through Christ (Romans 8:37), triumph valiantly through Him (Psalm 60:12) and that my faith has matured me past the sagging diapers of spiritual infancy.
Boy, did I punch out early.
Rather than bore you with details, let me just give you a for instance that will illustrate the trial I just endured and flubbed. Let’s just say you are handicapped (let’s just say)—‘scuse me: “Differently abled”! And, let’s just say you have a “differently abled” 1993 Ford Econoline white van with, oh, about 110,000 miles on it (just for sake of illustration, you know). Further, let’s just say that your differently abled white ’93 Ford van means the world to you and is your legs and feet and gives you so much freedom from being house-bound and is set up with hand controls so you can drive and come and go whenever you take a notion.
Again, just drawing a picture…
Now, suppose your ‘legs and feet’ are taken out from under you and wind up in a Ford shop in Villa Rica and they are held hostage there for a week because the engine runs hot and (oh, please not that!) the problem is a warped head and you need a rebuilt engine. Do you (a) thank God for the trial and seek Him for what He means you to learn in it, or (b) become childish and petty, selfish and unyielding as you vacillate between tantrums and pouting sessions, bemoaning the inconvenience of it all? Do you let far too many suns go down on your wrath and somehow end up blaming your wife (?!?) and brooding and moping around the house?
Pretend with me that you are not bothered by the mechanical analysis nor by the cost of repairs, but you are mad as a blue blazes that you have to go without your wheels (er, feet). Just suppose what is revealed in the furnace is not gold or shimmering silver, but the pungent foam of dross and the cloying sludge of a life that, when it comes down to it, lives for this life way too much!
Though I believe the word He placed in my heart has a much grander and broader application, maybe, just maybe He was gracious enough to let me in on a cosmic secret and give me fair warning. A trial is coming, Scott. For you. Be ready. And with it comes an opportunity to give a swift kick to the crown jewels of the empire of evil. If that is so, I was really asleep on the job!
While I was sleeping, the Lord gave me a word of strength and hope for every trial, but while I was sleeping, the enemy was busy sowing tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:25). And I choked.
Thankfully, there is another word for those who have failed the test. Remember Jonah? The Lord gave him a word but when it came down to putting his money where his mouth was, the old boy bailed.
After a storm on the high seas, a distressed crew, a man overboard and a whale later, comes this encouraging word: “And the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time…” (Jonah 2:1). For those who needed it today, don’t lose heart even if you have slipped, slid, bailed or failed. Turn to the Lord. He has a sure word for you and it doesn’t include any such thoughts of, “I’m over you!” or “You’ll never get it right!” or “You’ve gone too far this time!”
Take it from me: I slept quite well last night. A few moons ago, I missed a great opportunity, but when I went to the Lord (and others I had offended) with “I’m sorry. I flubbed it up big time. Please forgive me” the grace of God made it all moot and wrapped me with love and a forgiveness already secured. Then he gave me a second word: “I love you, Scott. Nothing will ever change that. And that’s final.”
Then I imagine the enemy got his just desserts anyway. No accusation, temptation, or failure on my part will separate me from the love of God (Romans 8:39) and just his trying to mess with God’s child must’ve earned him a swift foot of justice. Praise be to God, while I am resting, the devil is doubled over and howling in the key of soprano!