Friday, November 12, 2010

Fulfilling God's Will by Being Inactive?

There I was, lying in bed, with a massive nerve attack. My back hurt, legs hurt and my spirit hit bottom. In my cold home in MacDonald, PA, I was immobilized by an inherited genetic disease known as Ankylosing Spondylitis. The pity party had begun as members of my church visited me. Everybody asked me how I felt. I just replied that I was in severe pain. But far worse than the pain was the inability to do the things I normally did. The pain had prevented me from sitting at the computer desk and communicating with the world. It had prevented me from focusing on my sermons and essays. It also stopped me from visiting my flower garden in the front of the house and the vegetable patch in the backyard.

Different members had helped me in cleaning the house and taking care of the basic necessities of life. I was thankful that they had helped me but I would rather do all these myself. Nothing was like being active and mobile. So there I was lying in bed, feeling totally helpless and desperate. In a situation such as that, the only appropriate thing to do was to pray.

I complained silently to God making sure that no church members heard that. In the night when I was alone, I vocalized the complaints loudly. The patience of God was amazing and sometimes... irritating. Throughout the entire praying experience, His presence was in the room but not His voice. I wanted so badly to get a definite answer but none was available vocally. Little did I realize that God could speak in total silence!

I asked for complete healing from that pain and the restoration of my activities. I negotiated that if He had no intention to heal me, then it was better for me to go home to heaven. No response or answer! Just total silence.

In those arduous nights, the suffering of Jesus became very real. When He was betrayed by Judas, He experienced loss of freedom and activities (Mark 14:10). The Greek meaning for the word 'betray' is 'to be handed over'. Jesus was 'handed over' by a traitor. In Romans 8:32, the same Greek word is being used to describe God 'handed over' His Son for us. Jesus had to accept the fact that He would 'be handed over' so as to fulfill the will of God to save mankind. To be passive in the final stage of his mission may be the most difficult part of His works.

For the Creator of the universe to be incarnated and come as a man was already a great sacrifice in itself. And then as the Creator of all powers, He had to become powerless. Nothing was more devastating than being the Creator of all lives, He had to submit Himself to death.

For the early part of his earthly sojourn, Jesus was a student and a passive learner. Then when He reached adulthood and the appointed time, He launched into active ministries. He traveled up and down Israel. He preached and healed. He was active and so many of us can identify with his life of activity.

When He was arrested, all His activities ceased. Things were being done to Him and He could offer no resistance at all. Jesus was arrested. He was being led to be judged by different authorities. He was tortured. He was crucified. He became the object of the will of others. His actual mission was happening while he was rendered inactive.

As a helpless victim on the Cross, Jesus concluded His messianic mission by proclaiming that "it is finished" (John 19:30). The well-known preacher, Leonard Ravenhill, says that these three words were "the greatest words ever uttered by the greatest man that ever lived". The symbolic meaning of all the sacrifices in the Old Testament was being expressed in the ultimate sacrifice of the Savior. "It is finished" is not to be understood that Jesus had done all the things He wanted to do. "It is finished" depicts the truth that Jesus had given up control and ceased to be active so that He could fulfill the purpose of His life on earth. He did not just please God the Father by His activities but also by ceasing His activities.

Paul the Apostle learned similar lesson. He was most fruitful when he was not traveling or preaching. In fact, he was in a Roman prison. It was in such restricted situation that Paul produced a major part of the New Testament that is still blessing the world today.

What did I learn from that terrible bout of pain? I learned that when I was inactive, lying in bed, I could still fulfill the will of God. The willingness to accept my inactive condition and be cheerful about it could only come from a heart burning with passion for God's will to be done. Passion for God took a different meaning since that time. Passion is no longer what I can do for God but what He can do through my life.

God has His reason when He put His servants on pause. If you are going through a 'pause' moment in your life, look up and trust Him. God knows best and He is never wrong.
What happens to my infirmed condition? I did recover from the nerve attack. It was five years after that massive nerve attack I was miraculously healed by the Lord. Today, I am no longer in pain and that is another story.

by Albert Kang

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