Matured Suffering

Matured Suffering

I began life as an absolute maniac.  That is my flesh – crazed, maniacal, out of control, irreverent.  My early home life contributed to my strange development but in the end I was nothing short of psychotic.  That is my unregenerated personality.  

Pulling from the Bible there are several references that speak to my natural ways.  They include descriptions of

My birth

Job 39:5 Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? 6 Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings.  7 He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver. 8 The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing.

My teen life

Mark 5:2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,  3 Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: 4 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.  5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

And my adult years,

Jude 1:10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. 12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

When I came to understand and then receive the Living God by faith in His Son, the Wildman was taken into the loving arms of the Master and steadily, slowly, but ever so wisely disciplined by and through reading of the scripture by the Spirit.  On my own with all that I would experience and encounter at the hands of My King rather than others.  I would not, I could not, succumb to the ideas and insights of any man – I did not trust human-kind as it had repeatedly proven to me how selfish everything about it really was.  I could see how it operated in the world and what it demanded of those who wanted to belong or be part in its aims to rule the world.  I could see the game in education, sports, government, community affairs, occupations but especially in organized religion.

After a couple decades of being wholly immersed in the written scripture, prayer and ardently seeking truth by the influences of the Spirit, my former man began to willingly embrace the will and ways of God over my own fleshly aberrant world-views and ideas.  Impatience was replaced with patience.  Longsuffering replaced easy escape solutions.  Mercy, compassion, and selflessness overcame my natural fleshly tendencies toward chaos, pain and anarchy.  In the end, I learned to love through spiritual tools given my renewed mind to access.  More and more, I found my former natural man fading in strength and control in the presence of the things of God.   And after a couple decades I discovered myself free; at liberty in a life that was once nothing short of complete bondage.

It was at this point that God’s little game with His children began to manifest itself.

See, as a person chooses to fortify their inner-person and does this according to the will and ways of the Spirit, his or her impulsive, fleshly person begins to lose its identity in the world.  When this loss gets big enough, the individual involved begins to be uninterested with the things of this world.  They lose taste for all things of the flesh – sex, drugs, rock and roll, entertainments and events.  The best way to describe their impact on such a soul is “hollow,” meaning the futility of the thing (its players, its premise, its purpose) becomes readily apparent.  Television shows, fine dining, clothing, and other material possessions mean less and less, world-trends and ideas become almost laughable, and everything around this thing called life becomes unimpressive.  The result?  Because the person has grown spiritually and come to understand the will and ways of a God who resides elsewhere, the result is a growing alienation in this world, with an increasing desire to belong to the next.  To be with God, in His Kingdom, and to move onto the place where people of the spirit reside in their hearts.

This is where the game starts becoming apparent for a man like me.  Why?  Because where my mind (and heart and soul) has been prepared and trained to live for the living God in and through the Spirit, my flesh, while having been set aside (for the most part) for decades, can only really relate to what it loves in this world.  And in my case, that is chaos, anarchy and pain.

And here is where the greatest difficulty lands on the matured believer in God – they are spiritually equipped to relate to and desire God at every turn, but their flesh, void of all of its strength and tendencies, can only serve them in and through that which such flesh absolutely loves.  For people who come to Yeshua from a life of minor sin, their earth-life as mature believers might be easier to embrace and live.  But for those who came from lives of near-insanity, and who have chosen to let the Living God revamp them into the image of His Son, I’ve personally discovered something truly sobering – overwhelming despair.  

The Apostle Paul appears to have understood this when he wrote,

Philippians 1:21-24 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”

Paul also said in 2nd Corinthians 5:8 We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Toward the end of his life, Paul added in his letter to Timothy,

2nd Timothy 4:6-8 For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come.7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

I write these words to bring insight into the lives of people who come after me, who too, have sought to understand Him in spirit and truth and have chosen to try and let the inner man rise-up to new life and to let their former man die.  The point?

When the inner man has been equipped and armed with spiritual insights relative to life and the afterlife, what remains for him or her in this world, especially if they really lived to their flesh at one time, is hollow, sad and incapable of producing almost any amount of happiness in their fleshly lives.  There truly is a desire to depart this world and to enter the next – but even that is not in their power and they enter into a life of inward fleshly despair.   There is a draw toward sin, but an even more powerful resistance to giving in.  There is a pull toward suicide, but the act is repulsive.  There is a physical desire for all of the old habits to enter in and consume ones soul as it did in the past, but the Spirit immediately quenches such thoughts or invitations, reminding the child that such things are not part of Him or His will. 

The trick God plays on His children?   He moves us to abandon our natural man or woman by providing us with the most wonderful spiritual identity, but when that identity has reached maturity, it only wants what is above, and faces the remainder of life in a hollow, empty, almost meaningless life waiting to move on and away from this material plain.

Admittedly, and from the mouths of other believers, the regenerated life is often described as better, more fulfilling and a gift.  But in my case, while these descriptors are valid for most, the end-result is a form of death, as I am literally pulled between everything Good and of Him and everything bad upon which I lived and based my former life.  Perhaps there is some sort of divine justice occurring in the flesh of people like me who lived predatory, violent, sex and drug ridden existences before coming to faith?  Perhaps, while certainly reaching in and saving me from myself, perhaps God gives everyone the chance to return to their natural selves in the end, and that ultimate test reveals the faith and love of the participant?

Who knows.  All I can say whether it is due to age, health, or maturity in Him, is my life in this world as a matured Christian is for the most part over as the world offers me nothing. That said, and trusting in the living God with my remaining years, I am relegated to either sacrificially serving others in His love or selfishly surrendering to the only thing my body and mind understands relative to my material life – sin. I suppose whether we are babes in Christ or fully matured in Him by His Spirit, life for the Christians is a veil of tears beginning to end.

Shawn McCraney
Shawn McCraney
Articles: 108

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