God’s Grace Manifested Through Adversity
Is our Christian life meant to be easy? It doesn’t take much thought to know that isn’t true. There is much scripture that shows the opposite. Revelation 3:19 is one example,
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent.
There is also Hebrews 12:3-8,
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds. You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, ‘My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou are rebuked of him.’ For whom the Lord loves he chastens and scourges every son whom he receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he that the father chastens not? But if you be without chastisement whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards; and not sons.
James 1:2-4 gives perspective as to why this necessary:
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
I have started out this way because in relating stories of my life experience it occurs to me that the experiences I remember most easily are tied up with pain and suffering. So here I go again.
Not long after the Lord spoke to me in the wilderness I moved back to the Tri-Cities area of Washington State. I reunited with one of the friends with whom I had started the commune. While helping him work on his Jeep he asked me to come over for supper.
It seems his wife had invited a preacher over to talk about the Lord. He wanted me to come because he had seen me deal with various proselytizers from such groups as the Jehovah Witnesses and the Mormons et al. Though I wasn’t yet a Christian I had a pretty good understanding of the Bible due to being a voracious reader and had been able to spot unscriptural teaching.
That evening after supper, we sat around and talked. I discovered the ‘preacher’ was actually just a sincere believer, very active in his enthusiasm to spread the gospel. He was very persuasive, even to a tough sell like myself. He was able to clear up some questions I’d been considering for a long time.
He invited us to a home church affiliated with a large church in Tucson AZ. I allowed my newfound friend to baptize me in the Columbia River in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ like Peter said to do in Acts 2:38.
Since we were listening to taped sermons from the Tucson church and I was footloose and free, in due time I decided to go to Tucson and get it first-hand. First I had a little growing to do and thus I encountered my first chastening as a new Christian. I was, after all, fresh off the commune and still had my Hippie ways about me, part of which was pot smoking.
During this time I would visit with my former acquaintances, thinking to tell them of my conversion, and invariably wound up smoking pot with them. Although I hadn’t been warned that it wouldn’t be pleasing to the Lord, I was pretty sure I should quit the stuff. I was not able to do that in my own strength. The Lord, however, made a way.
One friend of mine was a dealer. I went to his place to get some pot but he was out of it. All he had was a few stems and seeds (not very potent stuff). We talked for a while and smoked a bowl full. He and his wife didn’t even get a buzz but I got so high that I told the Lord if he would just get me down off that place I would never do it again.
I was so out of it they had to put me and my bicycle in the back of their van, take me home and put me to bed. The next morning I woke up and smelled the roach (butt of a marijuana cigarette) in my ashtray and promptly heaved. God had even changed the smell of it. Before that time it had always smelled sweet to me.