[Month 2 (Week 6&7): This post is part of the “6 Month Discipleship Plan” series]
I am typing this freshly out of a personal encounter and heart-changing conversation with God on August 5, 2019 (Monday) 6:15 A.M.
This morning, while I was on my way to work, I looked up at the sky and told God how I am feeling towards what I am going through in the present — conflicts in highly valuable relationships. I asked Him why it seems like His vindication is taking too long.
I prayed, “God, I don’t want to come to You entitled. You are a sovereign God, in control of things and not bounded by time. I have no right to question you. But I want to come to You as Your daughter and You as my loving Father. What is in Your mind, God? Please, please tell me what’s inside Your heart. Please make me understand because I am losing hope. What is in me that is hindering Your vindication and mighty works in my life?”
The Holy Spirit suddenly prompted, “When did the vindication of Jesus happen?”
I got stunned. I realized, the vindication of Jesus happened after He died on the cross; when He surrendered His spirit to the Lord, exchanging His every right to Himself for the will of the Father in Heaven. In Luke 23:46-48, it says:
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.
I suddenly realized: It is not God who’s taking too long. It’s just that all this time, He has been waiting for me to exchange my every right to self (which, to be honest, is just an illusion of pride) for the will of the Lord. All this time, He has been waiting for me to die to self. I was the one who’s taking too long to get over my world-implored, self-thought rights.
I was not experiencing God’s vindication because I was not willing to be lashed out by harsh words. I was also resisting and fighting the hurts from other people’s wrongdoings especially from those whom I loved. I was not willing to face mockery. I was fighting the call to carry my cross to follow Jesus.
I was not experiencing God’s vindication because I was not responding to the situations like Christ.
The next day, someone sent me Philippians 2:7-9 over Messenger. I have heard this verse before, memorized it many times even. But it’s true: it is only when there’s application that God’s very word becomes real and alive.
“rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,”
Jesus, in the middle of His awful and shameful suffering, was capable of proving in all our faces that He is God! Imagine, He has a proven record of changing water into wine (John 2:1-11), leading a great haul of fishes from a shore (Luke 5:1-11, John 31:1-14), casting out impure and demonic spirits (Mark 1:23-28, Matthew 8:28-34, Matthew 12:22, Matthew 17;14-21), curing impossible sicknesses and diseases (Mark 1:30-31; 40-45, Matthew 8:5-13, Matthew 9:1-8, Luke 8:43-48, Matthew 9:27-31, Mathew 9:32-33, John 5:1-9, Matthew 12:10-13, Matthew 15:22-28, Mark 7:31-37, Mark 8:22-26, John 9:1-38, Luke 13:10-17, Luke 14:1-4, Luke 17:11-19, Matthew 20:30-34), raising people from the dead (Luke 7:11-18, Matthew 9:18-26, John 11:1-46), calming a furious squall (Matthew 8:23-27), feeding thousands with little food (Matthew 14:15-21, Matthew 15:32-39), causing a fig tree to wither (Matthew 21:18-22), and even restoring the cut ear of someone who arrested Him (Luke 22:50-51).
Jesus, when mocked to prove Himself right and to defend Himself as true, could have done it quicker than a snap and huge beyond human comprehension.
But He didn’t. He humbled Himself.
It’s so hard to be sorry for something that isn’t wrong. It’s hard to apologize for something you’ve wholeheartedly done for God. It’s so hard to reconcile with people who have wronged you, hurt you and persecuted you. It’s so painful to embrace consequences that you should not be facing. It’s devastating to submit to something that is against your comfort and convenience.
But Jesus did.
He carried a cross He should not have carried. He looked like a loser in front of blinded human beings even when in truth, He is King of all kings! He took all the lashes, spit, curses and mockery even though He lived His life loving people and doing the will of the Lord. He should have not been condemned by people, exchanged for Barabbas, surrendered by Pilate, mocked by Herod, denied by Peter, betrayed by Judas and abandoned by His disciples.
But Jesus did. And so it’s worth it.
“For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” — 1 Peter 2:19-23 NIV
God can use conflicts and chaos in relationships to teach one important thing: lived-out Christlikeness.
I was not experiencing His vindication because I wasn’t passing the test. He wanted me out of it but I was not surrendering to His will. Praise the Lord because I was recently given an opportunity to apply all these learnings. Of course, it is not an end-all be-all type of application but I praise the Lord for what was, what is and what will be.
Before the said opportunity, the same friend who shared with me the verses in Philippians gave me three advice that truly encouraged me.
- “Hindi na maibababa ang taong mapagkumbaba.” (A humble person can no longer be brought low.)
- “Kapag dead to self na, hindi na nasasaktan at tinatablan ng kahit ano.” (If someone is already dead to self, he won’t no longer be hurt or affected by anything.)
- “Ipaglalaban mo ang sarili mo o aantayin mong ang Diyos ang magtataas sa iyo?” (Will you fight for your self-right or will you let God fight for you?)
All these remind me of the verse in James 4:6: “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
That same day, in preparation of a conversation intended for reconciliation, I let go of all my self-built defense systems before God. I was led to depend on God’s justification. It was so hard to do that to be honest. We all need to be inspired by the life and heart of Jesus in order to be motivated to die to self.
That same day, I remember a moment when I sighed heavily with tears almost coming out of my eyes, then whispering, “Okay, I accept all these. I die to self.”
It was so hard but it was so freeing as well. Praise be to the Lord!