Born IN Pain!

I woke up the other morning with two words, “Charlie Brown.” I thought, “Lord, what does Charlie Brown have to do with anything?” Then I heard the Holy Spirit say, remember his Halloween special… he got a rock.
So do you think I will do the same, by giving you (or any of my children) a rock when it’s Me alone they are trusting for their Daily Bread?
It was right then everything concerning the fear of tomorrow suddenly became clear!
There is no fear of tomorrow IN Christ… “Today.”
This has been my calling since He revealed Himself to me in alcohol/drug rehab in April of 1981. I walked into my room, frustrated after another group therapy session, and threw my Living Bible down on my bed, “God, if you are really real, then you have to show me?” It landed on the bed and opened to what has become my most favorite and most often quoted chapter in the entire Bible, Matthew 6.
Alcoholics Anonymous based treatment programs used to have different motivational sayings for those in recovery. One of them was KISS, which stands for Keep It Simple Stupid, and the other was “One Day at a Time.” I heard people saying these two phrases from the minute I walked into rehab, but didn’t pay much attention, because like anyone else who is admitted into rehab, I just wanted out.
As I stated earlier, it was about the 10th day of the 31 day program, after enduring yet another group therapy “grilling” that I went back to my room and threw my Living Bible on the bed. I demanded that God speak to me. “God, if you are real, then show me right here and right NOW!” I looked down at my Bible on my bed and saw only one thing…
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34 TLB
Though I was already saved, it was right there where I surrendered my Life to Christ! There were other events (seeds) that God had been planting for about three years, but this was the place he was taking me all along.
And my whole life IN Christ from that time up until NOW has been about only one thing. Learning how it’s possible to live IN the day… and most recently, how to live in the NOW of the day.
So what can separate me from this message of freedom, this knowing Christ as my daily Manna and nothing else?
Can poverty, or isolation, or broken dreams, or lost goals? Can broken relationships, threats of prison, betrayal, or a wrong perception of God and myself? Can persecution, or pain, or the fear of the future, or the condemnation of the past? Can weakness, emptiness, depression, or failure? Can addiction, self loathing, illness, or even impending death?
NO! IN all of these things He IN and through me has proven time and time again that He is more than a conqueror… period.
So what do we do when the trials are so intense we can barely seem to catch our next breath, let alone make it through an entire day?
We release our life to God as we stand therefore girded IN God from head to toe, and then we set our faces like flint, and right into the wind of whatever is next, which could be something good, bad, or in between. And because we know His Grace is always sufficient, and His power can only show up IN and through our weakness… our nothingness… we simply rest there.
This is the only reason for the trial, the tribulation, the suffering, and the pain.
How else can we expect Him to expand the “limited” borders that we have placed on our unlimited God?
Several years ago there was a popular book, one that I now see over and over on Goodwill shelves and thrift stores all of over the country. And no, I am not talking about the Purpose Driven Life, although I see plenty of those as well.
This book was titled after one guy in the “begat” section of First Chronicles, the book that nobody ever reads. At least they didn’t up until they learned of this amazing man who prayed an even more amazing prayer.
His name was Jabez.
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. (I Chronicles 4:9-10)
In 1989 I was driving a truck (now there’s a big surprise), and one day I was listening to Chuck Swindoll on the local AM Christian station. He was teaching on this guy I had never heard of before whose name was Jabez. I was so enamored with this teaching that after work I listened again to the evening broadcast and even made a cassette recording of it. I listened to that recording for years, that is until my daughter, who loved (and still does) to sing, recorded a Britney Spears song over it.
What I liked about Swindoll’s teaching was what he said at the very end. It went something like the following:
“Are you someone like Jabez who was also “born in pain” and if so, are you bold enough to pray that same prayer? And can you also believe that God has an expanding place for you to fill? There are millions of believers who are content to fill the small places, and that is fine. But God is looking for a modern day Jabez who will believe God in the same way.” Are you that person?”
Swindoll also talked about how his mother’s pain wasn’t about the pain of childbirth, as much as it was about the painful life she experienced at the time Jabez was born. So much so she named him… “Pain.”
It was then I learned the meaning of Jabez name, “born IN pain.” And so he went through life with that name, and yet God granted him his request.
And do you know why?
It was the “all too familiar” pain that had served its purpose, in bringing Jabez to weakness. And it was in this place of nothingness where his eyes were opened to see and know the unlimited God… but only his eyes. There is no mention of anyone before or after the account of Jabez who walked in such faith as to believe God for the unbelievable.
And so several years ago Christians worldwide went out and bought this book by the truckload thinking, “Oh, if we just pray the prayer of Jabez, then God will also “bless us” in the same way… right?
WRONG!
They learned the hard way that God was not just standing by waiting to take their “bless me” orders.
In fact, the reason why this book and so many others like it are now sitting on thrift store shelves nation wide, is because they all point to just one thing, the message of the Cross, the “losing to gain” price of seeing Only God Only NOW!
The same unlimited God who Jabez and others like him have been privileged to see.
I often share the following passage in my writings, because I believe it is a microcosm definition of REAL Christianity.
Praise our God, all peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard;
he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping.
For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance. Psalm 66:8-12
And this picture of true Christianity was probably the precursor to that remarkable request by Jabez.
And this is still my one desire, even after all of these years.
To see the unlimited God in such a way that I can believe Him for anything as I take my resting place seated IN Christ. And to know that His love and power are only made available to me as I agree to let that same pain work IN and through me. The pain that takes me beyond seeing myself and my own needs, to seeing and knowing myself as a chosen citizen of the Kingdom of His Dear Son.
“And His mother named him Jabez because he was… born IN pain.”
NOTE TO OUR “GRACEBOOK” FAMILY:
PRAISING GOD… WE ARE FINALLY FREE!
To our wonderful Facebook family,
After 3 “pressure filled” years, Linda and I just received the wonderful news that we have been completely exonerated in our case with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, where we ran a bookkeeping business (2007-2010), only to find out it was a money laundering network.
Linda and I, and her 27 year old daughter Tami, were facing a minimum of two years in prison and several hundred thousand dollars in fines and penalties.
We just got off the phone with our attorney who just NOW gave us the wonderful news that we were granted complete immunity, which in his words, never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, happens.
In exchange we are offering testimony that will aid in the conviction of the so called “brother” who was the cause of this (seeming) never ending nightmare.
Then the next words out of his mouth… “God must really love you!”
I just thought to myself, “Oh, and if only you knew how much?”