♣ Strong in None but God

“But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” – 1 Samuel 30:6

David and his followers embarked upon one of the most gut-wrenching scenarios any man could face after witnessing the horror of a burned home city, and worse still: their wives, sons and daughters were nowhere to be found among the smoking ruins. So great was the blow of grief and distress that every man wept aloud until there was no more strength to do so. To add further distress to the nightmare, those who were bitter in soul geared themselves to take David‘s life, holding him responsible for the loss of their loved ones.

David, despite being surrounded by men who supposedly would sacrifice their lives in his place, encountered one of the most acute loneliest times ever; there was now none to encourage, support or give counsel – on top of having to contend with losing Jonathon, the one who was closer to him than flesh and blood. He could have allowed the circumstances to crush him, but in the depths of despair, darkness, and what seemed like the death of all things, David drew near to the One and only true Rock; he remembered the Lord and recounted His wonderful deeds. There he found strength, not in himself, but only in the Lord his God, knowing – first and foremost – that He was the Shepherd of his soul; how many are deluded into believing they can draw strength from God having not known Him personally. No, David could only know the reviving of his spirit because he was reconciled to the Spirit of God, and we must be spiritually re-birthed to know such benefits.

There are times, short or long; months or years, where there is no one to lean on spiritually but God alone – no father, no mother, no brother, no sister, close friend or tie are nearby to give counsel, but God alone; the longing of a ‘spiritual father’ is denied and instead replaced by God, filling that place Himself until we declare, “He alone is my Rock.”

There are many who dogmatically state, “We are knit together into the body of Christ” – and we are; another will say, “We are dependent on one another and that a Christian’s spiritual sustenance is gained only through fellowship with other believers.” While there is truth in such dogma, such ‘theological cleverness’ seriously lacks the ‘salt’ of life’s personal experience. There are certain aspects in this world – no matter how well we may intellectually grasp and state what we think we know – that make us feel like ‘grasshoppers’ in the midst of life’s enormity.

If God has singled out a seminary student, you can be sure that all their knowledge will be made reality bought through conflict, suffering and pain. There are many graduates today who can argue almost any point doctrinally and put on a marvellous display of understanding while lacking integrity and authenticity; eloquently stating truths but knowing nothing of the power of them. God will not raise leaders to ‘regurgitate’ theological formulae; He places men in the pulpit to minister truths who have encountered Him in the wilderness – a theology personally proven and made real for a listening people.

Fellowship is essential and imperative, but there are times when we are surrounded by many believers with none to help us but God and it takes a while to learn to lean on Him in ways you have never fathomed or dreamed. Being stripped of all that comes in between you and God – no matter how innocent or good those things may appear – is no pain-free procedure, but God will have us learn it until our soul is bent to His ways:

“Life is not as idle ore
But iron dug from central gloom,
And heated hot with burning fears,
And dipt in baths of hissing tears
And batter’d with the shocks of doom to shape and use.”
 – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The Psalms of David were born out of an intense and intimate knowledge of God through adversity; they would not have been penned under any other circumstance. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” God would not have been known as his Rock, Fortress, Refuge, and Deliverer had he not been hunted as prey by the hand of Saul in the wilderness; he would not have faced Goliath unless he had known the Lord Who trained his hands for war; he would not have known the nearness of God had he not been broken-hearted and crushed in spirit; he would not have known the Lord as his Shepherd had he not seen how frail and vulnerable he was without God’s protection; he would not have seen the light of God had he not walked through the deepest darkness, neither would he have tasted the salvation of the Lord had he not tasted of self-despair. David’s suffering, under the engineering of God’s providence, brought him into spiritual wealth that has ministered to millions of aching hearts throughout the centuries; God blessings cause our ‘cups’ to run over, not to selfishly hoard them, but to unreservedly pour through to others: “He who believes in Me…out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”

The most godly people we know, that have an unconscious positive influence over us, look admirable as they carry about them the ‘fragrance’ of Jesus, and we desire the intimacy they have with God, but we would be surprised to measure the height of their blessing by the depth of their suffering – just like a tree that is as tall as its roots that fasten into the earth. To know God and taste His ways is not an easy path as Arthur Neil said: “God’s method of spiritual prosperity in our lives is through serious adversity.”

There are periods where there is a famine of fellowship – not socialising that many in the church today confuse, they are both very different; fellowship is when a body of believers share in the spiritual nourishment through our mystical union in Christ, not discussing golf, super bowl, racing or fishing. We grow together as a body of believers, but the subtle danger is when we substitute fellowship with other believers over and above our communion with God; our walk with God on a personal level is what enriches our meeting with  another; if we are walking with God, then the inevitability of that will manifest itself on a horizontal level that shares in a fellowship that is real:“…if we walk in the light, as He [God] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…” (1 John 1:7). If it is impossible for believers to grow in Christ without communing with other believers, then those who are imprisoned, within solitary confinement, for their faith years on end, have no hope; such thinking is utterly preposterous! On the other hand, it is sheer arrogance and stupidity to say we have no need of being part of the body of Christ; that is individualistic-pride and conceit. God has ordained that believers grow together, but it is not the only means. There are countless believers that never take matters to God in prayer alone, but are always moping around for attention, pity and ministry from others within the church. The result stunts their growth and they never really mature; they are living off the faith of others, and rather than participate in giving of themselves, they are perpetually draining others of time and energy.

We are not exhorted to be strong in our fellow-believers but “in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10), and if we are relying on others in the place of God, He will see to it that we are firmly rooted, first and foremost, in Him. In my infant years as a Christian, I was unaware of how much I leaned upon my father’s and his wife’s faith until I was put through almost half a year of intense spiritual testing, daily, from the moment I awoke to retiring for sleep. Sometimes sleep was the only way of having rest from the torment. No one could help no matter how much they tried; it was something that I had to learn with God alone, as much as I wanted the help of others in my church – God would not permit it. Once that duration passed, He certainly had me standing in Him without the spiritual ‘crutches’ of another believer. Although I would not wish such an experience on anyone, I am so grateful to God for it. It was one of those times where I vividly recall the closeness of the Shepherd’s hand in my life – “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” God was more real to me than ever, as Oswald Chambers stated, “The one thing for which we are all being disciplined is to know that God is real.” As simple as that may sound at first, it shows how ridiculous we are at times in our circumstances; we say with affirmation that we know God is alive and real but then conduct ourselves at times as if He’s dead!

We never experience God so near to us as when we’re alone, when close friends are far away, when God Himself closes the hearts of others, preventing them from understanding our trials; we can but only seek Him, trust in Him and so gain our strength in none but God Himself. Out of such depths we discover what our hearts really need: to be filled with none but Him, a renewed spirit to embrace and fully carry out His will – “…no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me…But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me…” (2 Timothy 4:16-17), and that is everything, more than the heart can desire, when all else has been lost.

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Posted on September 10, 2012, in ♣ Devotional and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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