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Down and Out, but in Good Company

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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“God often must do radical things in the life of the servant in whom He has special plans: separation from family, removal of physical and emotional resources, an encounter with God. These are often the hallmarks of ownership by God that build a vision into a life.” – Os Hillman

Abraham… Jacob… Moses… David. These are just four Old Testament figures whom God separated from family, friends, and familiar circumstances in order to break them, shape them, and mold them into true men of faith that He could then use in a mighty and powerful way.

After leaving Ur of the Chaldeans with his father Terah, his wife Sarai, and his nephew Lot, Abram settled in Haran. However, once Terah died, God instructed Abram to pick up stakes again and start walking towards an undisclosed “promised land.” Yes, he took along Sarai and Lot on the journey as well as their servants and possessions, but Abram was being asked to start over a second time at the age of 75… and he obeyed. The result of that obedience was a new nation called Israel and a new race called the Jews, from which came Jesus, the Messiah.

Jacob, whose name means “usurper”, was forced to flee from his brother Esau, whom he had cheated out of his birthright and his blessing as the oldest son. He wound up living with – and working for – his uncle Laban for 14 years in order to obtain his two daughters, Rachel and Leah, as his wives… and then for many more years after that while he fathered and raised his children. Eventually, Jacob left Laban’s employ and ventured out on his own, only to encounter a Man (assumed to be a preincarnate Christ) with whom he wrestled all night long. The result of that wrestling match was a separated hip, a lifelong limp, a new name (Israel), and a renewed and deeper relationship with God.

Moses, having lived in Pharoah’s palace as his adopted son for 40 years, was forced to “run for the hills” after murdering an Egyptian construction foreman. There he spent another 40 years in the “backside of the desert” tending sheep for his father-in-law Jethro. God used this time of isolation and discouragement to forge Moses into the humblest man on earth (see Numbers 12:3), so that when he was called to lead the Jews out of slavery in Egypt, he would do so with a servant’s heart.

As for David, quite a few years passed between his anointing by Samuel as the next king of Israel and him ascending to the throne. Some of that time was spent hiding in a series of caves from King Saul, who was seeking David’s life. He also feigned madness before Achish, the king of Gath, to escape capture, imprisonment, or execution. However, it was while he was “on the lam” that David rallied his Mighty Men of Valor, who were invaluable to him once he became king.

Even the Apostle Paul, after having come to saving faith in Christ, spent three years in Arabia (presumably in the desert) in preparation for his eventual ministry as an itinerant preacher, evangelist, and church planter. And so, my friend, the lesson to be learned today is that tough times are often the tools God uses to prepare us for His higher purposes. So don’t be discouraged when things don’t go as (you) planned. Trust God that He knows what He is doing and get ready to serve Him in an even greater capacity.

“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” I Peter 5:6 (NKJV)

- Rev. Dale M. Glading, President

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