GLORYING IN DEPRIVATION

BY:  JOHN R. GAVAZZONI

MARCH 2004

PARTS 1-3

PARTS

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2

 

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3

TWO CO-WORKERS, PROVISION AND

     DEPRIVATION

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PART ONE

Our God and Father overflows with goodness toward us. He desires that we be abundantly supplied unto all completeness and fullness, prospering in every dimension of life. Yet, those of us who know something of His ways have come to realize how strategically He uses deprivation in our lives, not, as some might presume, because He is displeased with us and wants to make that point by denying us life’s satisfactions, but because deprivation and supply work together to the end that ultimately, according to His will, “no good thing” shall be withheld from us.

“He, who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” How sweetly those words fall upon our ears, and how instantly our spirit, with His, witnesses to their truth. But how do we reconcile the apparent incompatibility between His delight in giving and His often times non-negotiable denials? Many times He seems to be utterly neglectful of our most basic needs, and untouched by the physical, mental and emotional pain we bear. Besides, we see others suffering and we are deeply moved, but He, of infinite resources, far more than enough for the challenge, makes no move to bring them relief.

You say, “Oh but He does, I’ve seen Him heal the sick, bind up the broken-hearted, and deliver captives.” Yes, I too have seen Him bare His mighty arm of deliverance many times and bring relief from suffering and need in miraculous ways, but I have also seen, in my own life and the lives of others, hours, days, weeks and years, even many, many years drag on with little, if any, respite from incessant pain and sorrow, not to mention the experience of having Him bring an end to one long night of suffering and usher us into realms of glory, only to have such an experience be followed by another gut-wrenching tribulation. Some who read this have received desperately needed provision and before they are even able to settle into the enjoyment of the blessing have it taken away in a way so unexpected and sudden as to be bone-jarringly traumatic.

Those who foolishly, immaturely and dogmatically insist that our lack of faith is the cause of all protracted affliction, that God would certainly end our suffering immediately if only we would desist in our unbelief; such shallow-hearted, and shallow-minded ones hardly deserve a hearing. There are those of very little faith, if any, who have enjoyed the Lord’s abundant provision, while others, rich in faith, rich in mountain-moving faith, have to live with a level of such disconcerting deprivation, as to be pushed to the edge of despair.

If the love of God simply means that God would like to bring relief to us if only we would let Him, or as some would put it, if only “we would get in a place where God can bless us,” then that love is an impotent love, a sentimental, wishful love that has only marginal effect on the human condition. BUT if that love has a purpose so sublime, so wonderful, so beyond our ability to ask or conceive of, and if that love, in it’s wisdom, must incorporate interim (yes, interim, for what seems endless to us is but a passing moment compared with eternal ecstasy) suffering into its plan in order to plow our earth to receive and bear the fruit of the Seed of His fullness, Christ Jesus our Lord, then that is another matter.

PART TWO

“The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” I’m sure you recognize those words to be the confession of Job that archetypically assailed, knocked-down, kicked, beaten, broken, bruised and apparently forsaken paragon of human calamity. The horrible suddenness and extent with which the man’s world collapsed calls forth from out of the darkest recesses of our minds those fears that break through the barrier separating the unconscious mind from the conscious, gripping our hearts with their malicious suggestions of what very well might come to pass in our own lives.

This being so, we are very vulnerable to the various religious insurance plans concocted by those who would sell us protection. They all boil down to, “get it right and keep it right, and the devil won’t be able to touch you.” Uhhh, care to read Job again – all you protection insurance hustlers and would-be buyers? Under the covenant of the law, it was simple, heed the voice of God as found in the law, and you’ll have health, wealth and esteem up to your eyeballs. Well, friend, grace is a little more complicated, for it is rooted in the manifold (complicated, many-sided) wisdom of God.

There are intricacies involved when God sets out to make us privy to the depths of Himself, when “deep calleth unto deep.” And you know, don’t you, that’s what grace is all about, the utterly unearned sovereign initiation into the communion of the Holy Spirit. The keeping of rules and regulations won’t take you there; neither will it remove from your path the dark threatening tunnels on the Way.

Quite often, you’ll have his comforting voice break in at intervals, but sometimes, even that, will be denied you, and then there will be only darkness, silence and foreboding. One saint who had experienced such God-ordered denial and affliction said to the Lord, “If this is the way you treat your friends, I know why you have so few of them.” By the way, such honest outbursts are treated with much more attention and respect by the Lord than dishonest prayer-posturing.

Need a faith-challenge? Ever notice in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, that among the things co-existing with blessedness are, poverty, mourning, persecution and vilification? But you might protest, saying, “there are harsh things that we must endure that are simply part of serving Him, but the damage in our lives that is the result of our own disobedience is another thing.” Well, I confess that there is a distinction to be made, but pardon me for insisting that both are integral to what Jan Antonsson calls, “The Glory Road.”

The grace of God hides in the back seat of all our forays into failure. Don’t buy that nonsense about, “it didn’t have to be,” or “it could have been otherwise if I…,” or “if only I had/hadn’t.” Hey, hey, hey! Get this straight; it was all necessary, all a necessary part of plowing your earth to make it suitable for the Seed of glory. “For the creation (that includes you) was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, IN HOPE.” (Emphasis mine)

In hope. That means that the failure you were set up for was orchestrated according to the hope, that is, the expectation of God, “that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Full participation in the freedom of the glory of the children of God demands that Adam and you, in your turn, foul up. Of course there will be the smart-alecks out there who will say, “well I guess I’ll just set out to foul up royally then for the sake of glory.” That, I will not dignify with an answer, except the answer of Paul, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it.” Munch on that awhile.

Let’s get it settled in our minds, the Lord does give and the Lord does take away, and both His adding and subtracting serve the end that finally we shall prove and demonstrate in our earthiness, that “just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly,” because “those who are earthy” and “those who are heavenly” are both of the same One. Let the incontrovertible principle be fixed in our minds: The heavenly rules the earthy. The earthy always finally bows to and is absorbed and reconstituted by the heavenly, because heavenly is what we really are, come hell or high water.

PART THREE
TWO CO-WORKERS, PROVISION AND DEPRIVATION

In the interplay of divine provision and deprivation, only faith can see that deprivation must always yield to provision, and only a mature faith understands that deprivation is bound to serve provision in spite of, and, enigmatically, because of, its adversarial nature. We can never know the full riches in glory by Christ Jesus without the experience of emptiness, lack, and denial. God’s ultimate answer to all of our cries for deliverance is “yes,” but very often He says “no” while we are on the way to that final “yes.”

In His prayer in Gethsemane, Jesus said that He had given us the glory which He had with the Father before the world began. This takes us out of time into eternity and the relationship that we, in Him, have always shared with the Father. Christ’s resurrection and glorification returned Him and us, in Him, to that glory which has always been our portion in Christ.

Glory: excellence put on display, or excellence that calls forth praise. That is the inheritance of the saints – to have, and to be the glory of the Father in transfigured earthiness. But in between our translation from eternity into the aions and back, the Seed of our glory has been planted in soil enriched by deprivation in order for glory to reach its full bloom.

Adam came out of eternity, out of the bosom of the glory of God with his glory intact, but he was, in the outer man, consciously denied the aware enjoyment of his possession. This is what made his Eve vulnerable to, and helpless against, the subtle suggestions of the serpent. The idea that Adam walked about in the Garden of Eden fully aware of who he was and what He possessed in God, makes for nice sentimental imaginings, but I don’t believe it’s true. We are not going back to Eden as it WAS. We are going forward into the Eden that IS, since our Lord Jesus has fully partaken of and become the Tree of Life for us and in us.

Being created in the image of God (the image of God being Christ) and being aware in his soulishness of what accrued to him in that image are two different things. Only partaking of the Tree of Life would give him that enlightenment, for “This is life eternal (aionian), that they might know Thee, the only true God, and (even) Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” Though the Lord had said, “Of every tree of the Garden thou mayest eat…” (except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), He did not tell them when they could eat of the Tree of Life.

Before such could occur, they must experience, left to themselves, without the light of the glory of God, that all the other permissible trees of the garden, good as they might be, could not bring fulfillment of being and also that they would become prey to the deception that religious knowledge could satisfy their innate sense that something was missing.

Eternity has within it the contrasting dimension of time, and it is in that dimension that the Eternal draws forth from His depths His fullest riches. How?

Paradoxically, God buries Himself, and us in Him, in the soil of contradiction, and as a seed draws from the soil in order to sprout and bring forth its fruit, so God draws from elements contradictory to all that He is that by which He causes Himself to fulfill His divine potential.

He makes the contradictory to serve that purpose by presenting Himself with that which He must overcome, and in that challenge He reaches down, as it were, into His own depths in order to prevail. He has not, and does not do that alone. In Him, we have been subjected to all to which He subjects Himself. If it’s been your understanding that God stood aloof from the futility to which He subjected all creation, you are wrong. He did it by subjecting Himself and thus the creation which is in Him.

Therein is the mystery of the passion of Christ. Faced with the trial of His faith, a trial sovereignly ordered by His Father, and knowing that He could call upon legions of warring angels to come to His aid if He chose to act autonomously. He did not because it was not the will of His Father for Him to be spared. He faced the futility of resisting sin and death and overcame them by yielding to their attack and in so doing swallowed up death in victory. Can we see the nature and depth of the futility that He faced?

He faced having that which was a violation of His intrinsic Being – intrude upon His holy Person. How could He permit such a thing? But if He refused, it would be refusing His Father’s will. The only way left to Him was the way of faith in the wisdom and goodness of His Father. With the cry, “Into Thy hands I commit my spirit,” He surrendered to the unthinkable; the unthinkable that Life itself should be murdered. He drank the cup to its last dregs and swallowed up death in victory.

We need to have a keen sense of the sanctity of our sufferings. We are participants in God being God at His best when we are called into the fellowship of His sufferings, when we are partakers of the sufferings of Christ. We are communicants in HIStory which begins and ends in glory, but necessitates often being deprived of the same along the way. The better translation of Rom. 3:23, instead of merely indicating coming short of the glory of God, carries the thought of being in want of, or lacking of, His glory.

This is the ultimate deprivation, the deprivation within all deprivation. But what is the result? “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, HAVING THE GLORY OF GOD. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.” (Rev. 21:10, 11 NAS, emphasis mine) From having the glory of God before the world began, to having it, as it were, removed from our consciousness, and then returned, will make glory more glorious than if it had never been put to the test.

What is your present and painful lack, dear one? A lack of healing, a lack of money, or satisfying relationship? Do you find yourself, though scripturally knowledgeable about the love and grace of God bereft of any feelings of being loved and being treated graciously? Do you hear others testify of their wonderful experiences with Jesus while you feel like you and He have become strangers?

Well, “I have a word for you.” Wait, wait, I know you’ve probably had more than your share of those who presume to have such a word, but give me a chance. The word is, “Behold, I make all things new.” He does, He really does, and I promise that He will not forget you. I cannot promise that there will not be some deprivations that you will have to bear even to the end of this life, but I know that He will blend together just the right mix of provision and deprivation that will perfectly prepare you to receive fully the glory that is yours when you exchange this perishable for the imperishable.

So, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing… after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”

 

GLORYING IN DEPRIVATION, Parts 1-3 [John R. Gavazzoni] 3-3-04            1

 

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