..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Getting Through the Barbed Wire to Jesus

"Enter by the narrow gate; for
wide is the gate and broad is the
way that leads to destruction, and
there are many who go in by it.
Because narrow is the gate and
difficult is the way which leads
to life and there are few who find
it." (Matthew 7:14)

Anyone who tells you that entering
in by the narrow gate is easy is
lying to you. Salvation is absolutely
free but it will cost you EVERYTHING
to enter into it fully. There is no
easy way. "The kingdom of God suffers
violence to this day, and the violent
take it by force" (Matthew 11:12
). You
are going to have to give yourself
completely to God in order to
enter into a complete salvation.
Of course you can be just barely
saved, but who wants that?

Let me tell you what I know so far.

Early in my experience with the Lord
I saw people apparently taking
"shortcuts" to God while I tried to
plod on in obedience to what God
had told me to do. Mine seemed like
a relatively slow but incredibly
intense go of things, while others
seemed to race past me unimpeded.
A bit distressed, because of the
way human nature tends toward
jealousy, (that being MY human nature),
I asked God about this.

He very kindly told me there were
no shortcuts. I was to keep on
with that same "long obedience in
the same direction" and that others
were simply mistaken or deceived if
they thought they could enter quickly
by means of a shortcut. There are
no shortcuts to knowing God.

Fast forward about thirty years
and I am learning all of this all
over again. Let me tell you more
of what I know so far. Let me
say to you in no uncertain terms:
it will cost you EVERYTHING to
enter into a full, no-holds barred,
nothing held back, relationship with
Jesus. Salvation is free, but it
is not for the faint hearted. You
have to violently take the kingdom
by force, and then, that not being
enough, the King and the kingdom
will violently have to take you
by force!

For some reason God puts Himself,
and the choicest gems of knowledge
about Himself, in the most hidden
and costly places: covered with
proverbial barbed wire. After all,
would you put your valuables in
plain unguarded view? Would you throw
your diamonds into a pig pen?

Jesus tells the parable about the
man who finds a treasure in a field
and for the joy of knowing that
the treasure is there, buys the
whole field (Matthew 13:44). Of course
the whole field cost a lot of
money... Oh, but to know that you
own the treasure is so worth it!

Christ next tells us that the kingdom
of heaven is like a pearl of great
price, a pearl so great and lovely
that it is worth selling everything
that you have to get it (Matthew
13:45, 46).

Indeed. Selling everything that you
have to get it. Oh, yes. Did you know
that every counterfeit in the world
has its genuine counterpart? So for
all of you who do not understand how
a junkie can be so low that he would
sell his first-born to buy drugs,the
ultimate spiritual counterfeit, I
ask you to look at that fleshly desire
gone rabidly bad and apply it in a
positive way to the pursuit of God.

Do you want Jesus so badly that you
would sell everything to get Him?
forsake all others to have Him?
leave family, friends, money,
security, fame, and fortune to
know Him?

In order to get God, and really, for
God to get all of you, you are going
to have to sell everything you have.
Make no bones about it. Have no
doubts about it. Everything. No
stone will be left unturned,
no closet left unransacked, no
cache of the "precious" left intact.
You will be a besieged city and
God will overtake you.

As it should be! As I have gone on
with God I discover and rediscover
that when I see a glimpse of
"more of Jesus" it is covered in
yards of razor wire, booby-trapped
like a suicide bomber, and there
ain't no getting near it unless
I am willing to risk life and
limb to get it.

What's up with that? If God wants
us to have Himself, why does He
make getting Himself such a
challenge? Well, let me tell
you what I know so far.

We cannot simply trade ourselves
in and get Him. He died for us, and
we have to die for Him. I know this
sounds harsh, and not what you are
used to hearing, but I speak to
you the truth. God does not want
our flesh (our carnal nature that
opposes the spiritual). It has to die.
He will not give us more of Himself
unless we make room for Him and the only
way to make that room is for part
of us to go, dead-dog-in-the-road
go. What goes is our flesh,
and that is a costly, and potentially
gruesome process.

We are going to have to climb
through a lot of barbed wire to
get to Jesus, my beloved comrades.
And where is this barbed wire you
may ask? It is in difficult relation-
ships with others, it is in
misunderstanding, in loneliness,
in human ignorance of the ways of
God, in entanglement with the
barbed wire inside our own hearts.

We are going to have to belly crawl
to enter into the narrow gate.
We are going to have to sell
everything to buy that pearl of
great price. We are going to have
to sell all that we have
and give up all rights to ourselves, to
follow Jesus.

That last statement makes me
cringe. Someone came to me
several years ago and said
"Jesus told me twice to sell
all that I have. Do you think
I should sell ALL that I have?"

The person was in a vulnerable
place and I basically gave them
the counsel that they should give
everything that stood between
them and Jesus away. Do business
with it, get rid of it. Sell out
to God. I didn't think that they
were supposed to sell every last
thing down to their underwear.

I've worried about that advice
every since. Who am I to say that
Jesus didn't want even their
underwear? Consider what God
asked of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 13).
Who am I to make reasonable
what God wants us to surrender?
I didn't tell them to compromise
but I wonder if I didn't urge
them far enough.

Our common sense and our sense
of who God is can get us in
big trouble. We think that God
is never going to ask us to
slay our firstborn on the altar,
but consider Abraham. We think
that God is never going to
ask us to go to our deaths
for His Sake, but consider
every martyr and prophet
who ever died for the kingdom
of God. We think that God
is not going to allow to be
destroyed all that we have built
for Him, but consider Solomon's
temple. We think that God is
not the kind of God who is going
to ask His Son to die for the sins
of the world. Consider Jesus.

Dear ones, we do not know God
as we should. Trust me, you are going
to have to crawl through a lot
of barbed wire to get to Jesus.
You may even be surprised that it
is God that puts the barbed wire
there and not the devil.

Have you ever seen those coiled
loops of razor wire that are meant
to keep people out, huge barbed loops,
now available in fluorescent colors,
with razor sharp edges every few inches
that will slice you to pieces if you
hit against them. They separate, without
fanfare, the men from the boys, and
the women from the girls. They test
whether you talk about going on
with the Lord or ACTUALLY are going to
go all the way through them
to get more of the Lord. They surround
the fine things of God. And if you've
never been up close and personal with the
barbed wire then you've never been near
gaining hold of the deeper things of God.

"Woman, why are you writing this?"
you may be asking. Is this supposed
to make us feel better? Well, I am fresh
from a month, yea, even a year,
of crawling over, crawling under,
crawling through barbed wire to
get to Jesus. I am sliced to bits,
but I have gotten through to Him:
gotten to Jesus I most certainly have.

Paul said it this way,"in
journeyings often, in perils
of robbers, in perils by mine
own countrymen, in perils by
the heathen, in perils in the
city, in the wilderness, in
the sea, among false brethren,
in weariness and painfulness,
in watchings often, in hunger
and thirst, in fastings often,
in cold and nakedness..."(
2 Cor.
11: 26-27). Barbed wire all.

What I am trying to do is
tell you not to be surprised
when you see the barbed wire
and not to be stopped from
getting the prize of the
high calling in Christ Jesus.

Dear Ones, He came a long way
for us, He shed His blood for
us, He was so sliced to pieces
in His pursuit of obedience to
God that His face was marred
more than any man's and his
body was torn beyond
belief. Jesus knows what "costly"
means. Don't be afraid to find out
for yourself. There is nothing
in the universe more worth
selling everything and dying
for than your Lord.

Be a man. Be a woman. Go through
the barbed wire straight into
the arms of your Lord. Win the pearl
of great price.


Desert Pilgrim said...

Oh, I really sense the unction of a word of prophecy in this post. It has spoken to me on a very deep level and I thank you for posting it, I know the deep calling unto deep was at work in your composing it.

The Pen of The Wayfarer said...

Thanks, Desert Pilgrim, a lot is going on in my heart--deep things indeed. I so long for to know God and to give myself to Him completely. It sure is an intense process, as well you know. God bless you! --Rose-Marie