The last few years have been the crushing of me.
If you are a follower of Jesus, it is His pleasure to crush you too.
This fact is a part of following Jesus that I balk and buck at. I am not equipped to understand a loving father who allows His sons and daughters to be bruised.
Yet, it is clear that if I am to be made into the likeness of Jesus, I must go through the same things He did.
If I look throught the Bible, it is filled with saints who have gone before me who were also crushed. I can be crushed in a firey furnace like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I can be crushed in a jail cell like Daniel and Joseph. I can be crushed in the desert like Abraham, Jacob, Moses and Elijah. Or I can be crushed in the valley like David. Then there's Jonah, Job, Ruth.....
Everyone's journey to being broken looks different. There are no two ways exactly the same for the Lord to get me to the spot He wants me. He allows me to have a journey uniquely crafted just for me to get me right where He wants me.
And, just why would it be his pleasure to do this? It is because I must have my selfish ambition crushed. I must have my pride, my idolatry, my rebellion, my people-pleasing, my insecurities, and my flesh purged. This is the only way he can take me and remake me. When I get to the spot of pure broken-ness, that is when I am truly and fully sumbitted and ready to be recreated in His image.
He desires a spotless bride. He desires for me to have Godly character and holiness. He cannot entrust His kingdom to untested people. Just like no one would leave their child with a selfish, thoughtless, or rebellious babysitter, there is no way the Lord will entrust His people to those who don't have proven character.
I cannot do this on my own, though. There is nothing in me that wants to give things up; especially if it involves pain or suffering to do so. If I am completely honest, I only want the easy parts of following the Lord. Don't get me wrong, there is joy and peace and celebration and love and kindess and provision and blessing to following the Lord! However, it is necessary to see that sometimes the GOOD plan of the Lord is to allow trial, pain, and suffering. If I seek to avoid this, I completely miss out on a whole portion of the Lord's character. I do not have a full understanding of the Lord until I have walked with Him through a time of being pressed.
To "pick up my cross" means that I, like Jesus, submit to the will of the Father and allow Him to nail to that tree everything in me that is dark and vile. The cross represents the fullness of life that I gain by allowing the Lord to do this. The cross represents everything that is good and the opposite of my wicked and deceitful heart. The very definition of being a Christian is that I admit that I am a sinner in need of a savior. I cannot say I needed a savior only that one time. I need a savior every day. And so, I nail to the cross daily my will and sin. Some things are harder and more painful to do this to.....this is why it can take a chastisement for me to be willing to give them up.
It was God's pleasure to crush Jesus. This is the way of the Lord: to crush His saints in order to rebuild them. Jesus had to go through this in order to identify with us in this way, though this is not the only reason for it. It helps me to understand that even God in human flesh understood what it means to suffer. (Please understand that I know there was an even greater reason for this....but it cannot be overlooked that the Lord allows this to happen to all those who are called.)
When I count it pure joy to face trials....I am not rejoicing in the trial itself. I am rejoicing in what it is PRODUCING within me. I am becoming more like Christ, and if I suffer like Him, I will be resurrected like Him. I rejoice because I am being qualified for MORE. I rejoice because there is fruit in my life from suffering. I rejoice because I am gaining a greater understanding of who the Lord is. It is in these things that I rejoice.
"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Philippians 3:7-12.
The last few years have been the crushing of me. This is not the end of the story though. And while my season of crushing is over, I am eternally grateful for the deep lessons learned and would not trade back anything lost in that season for all that I have gained. I pray it would be His pleasure to crush you too.