2018, a year etched in my heart for eternity. A year where my life was tragically altered in so many ways. Starting in January, I dislocated my patella (knee cap). Nine days later on a cold late afternoon, my wife and unborn child left this earth to be in the presence of Jesus due to a car crash. Our one year old son, Titus, contracted whooping cough the same night. Within the first two weeks of my wife’s death, my identity was stolen causing a few thousand dollars to be taken from my account. To top it off, I was audited by the IRS. For over one month I was terrified that Titus would die as he gasped for breath, while we both screamed and cried for his mommy. Prior to this, my life had been marked with struggle and suffering, but nothing could come close in comparison to the beginning of this year.
Although this unexpected tragedy and catastrophic trauma invaded my life, I learned more about God and grew more with the growth of God than any other year of my life. I have spent more time in prayer and in the Word than any previous year. I have had several vital encounters with God that have brought healing, strength and revelation. In my soul, in this realm, in the temporal, it was the worst physical, mental and emotional pain I’ve known. But in the Spirit, the time resulted in the most productive and effective time of my life. Trying, tragic times are extremely useful to God. I decreased so that He could increase, and for me to live is Christ and to die is gain became more evident to me as I walked this out. These sufferings are positive and very precious. My prayer became, “Lord, I worship you in my sufferings and now see divine purpose in them, the purpose of transformation. I embrace this season. I embrace the cross.”
As He increased and I decreased, there was a deeper personal experience with Him that I began to have. It was through suffering such as this, while in the presence of the Lord, I began to be taken to a special place in the spirit. This place is very peaceful. As I am praying and flooded with peace, I am suddenly taken to a dark room, so dark I cannot see my hands in front of my face. I can feel a torn curtain at arms reach. I always walk in through the tear (In Hebrews 10:20, we learn that the veil was the flesh of Jesus). As I enter into the room beyond the veil there is a blade of light coming from the top and fixed on the floor. I am always drawn to the light. As I approach the light, knowing it is the very presence of God, I carry within me questions that I have longed to ask Him. But, as soon as I enter into the light, I collapse to my knees and have not one question, always realizing that I am there to hear and receive. All torment is eradicated and unable to reside with me in that light. This place was always available to me, but I would have never searched for it or pressed in without the suffering. The suffering provoked me to press in to His perfect consolation.
When I arrived to the body of my first wife, at the scene of her car crash, I did not ask God why, or shake my fist. God is good, even if the circumstances suggest otherwise. I immediately wept. I then went into prayer, wanting to touch the presence of God. I know He loves me, as I believe that nothing could separate me from that love. My feelings for God did not diminish that day, but began to deepened exponentially. Under the right pressure, in a proper environment, with our cooperation, there is a preciousness that manifests in this life. Some of God’s children have an opportunity to be made into precious stones (Rev. 21:11-14, 18-21). The opportunity to be made into a precious stone is available to all of God’s children, however, not all will embrace the process and allow God to complete the work within them. I have a long way to go, but I thank God for the grace to carry on, deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus. Above is a personal example of the application of the cross resulting in transformation, which is the intermingling of Christ’s life into my living. The Bible emphasizes the importance of this precious transformation throughout the Old and New Testament. As I pressed in to God in His word I needed purpose, purpose for the suffering and this is what He led me to find.
I will add, I have since remarried a magnificent, virtuous woman. The photograph of the ring above is taken of my current wedding band that was chosen because of this revelation. It symbolizes so much for me. Every time I look down at this ring I see purpose in suffering. It is composed of two precious materials, platinum and titanium, indicating strength and value. It is hammered which indicates to me the marks of suffering for the purpose of being transformed. Every hammer mark was purposed to fashion this precious material into this ring I wear.
We see in the word of God several key revelations that start in Genesis and flow throughout the Bible to Revelation. One is the revelation of the precious materials that are introduced in Genesis 2:10-12 as gold, pearl and precious stones and conclude in Revelation 21:11-14, 18-21 as part of the New Jerusalem. These precious materials are vital in the growth and transformation of God’s overcomer. Exodus 28:6-21, the priest’s ephod was filled with the precious materials which were necessary in receiving revelation from God. They represented the transformation of man with the precious material, which is Christ, for the building up of God’s work by receiving revelation from God. Man and precious materials were combined together to enter the presence of God and receive His revelation. A precious material, gold, was used to cover the wood in Solomon’s Temple, spoken of in 1 Kings 6:21, and then the Ark of the covenant in Exodus 37, again signifying the intermingling of the divine with humanity. The gold represents God and his pure unchanging nature. The wood symbolizes man, as it is earthly and temporal. This intermingling is latent throughout His word. We are to be the expression of God, the body of Christ, the humanity of God in this earth, like Christ, only now a corporate expression of the trinity, as the church, the body. The whole Bible speaks of this important matter, the intermingling of God and man that is consummated as the New Jerusalem.
We can then see in 1 Corinthians 3:12, the building of the church is with precious material; gold, silver, and precious stones. In this verse we have 3 materials mentioned, indicating the triune God, gold signifying God the Father in His pure unchanging nature, silver signifying Christ and His work of redemption (in Exodus 30 silver was used to redeem God’s people), and last, precious stones signifying the Holy Spirit and His work of transformation. We need the Father’s nature (gold), the Son’s redemption (silver), and the Spirit’s transformation (precious stones), for the purpose of God being able to express Himself through His people. In contrast, wood, hay and stubble are above ground and used as naturally occurring building materials for man, easily obtained. Gold, silver and precious stones are discovered below ground and it is the honor of kings to search out the matter (Prov. 25:2), discovering God’s treasure formed within. We are made from the dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7), and the elements show that this is an inward way. The kingdom of heaven is within (Luke 17:21). The treasure (gold silver and precious stones) are buried in a field (Matt. 13:44), under the surface under the dust of the earth, just like the treasures God has placed within us. We have this treasure in earthen vessel (2 Cor. 4:7). All this work will be tried by fire (1 Cor. 3:13,15). The outward, wood, hay and stubble will be done away with as the fire comes, but the precious material within shall remain. As John the Baptist so perfectly states in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
It is only in the proper environment of heat and pressure that a transformation can occur with common substances like clay and carbon, ending in the result of precious and beautiful materials. In the believer’s life, this process of transformation is a work of the Spirit to bring about our transformation to reveal Christ in us, the hope of Glory (Col. 1:27). “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” 2 Corinthians 3:18. In addition, Romans 12:2 reveals the importance of being transformed by the renewing of our minds.
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus changed Peter’s name from Simon to Peter, indicating the importance of transformation for God’s building, as the name Peter means stone. In 1 Peter 2:5, Peter in his first epistle writes that we are living stones for the building of a spiritual house. The changing of the name Simon to Peter by Jesus was a way to impress on Peter’s heart this transformation process for the building. The name Simon means “to hear,” indicating that the transformation process occurs as we hear God. Faith comes out of hearing, and hearing through the word of God (Rom. 10:17). We are transformed by God revealing Himself to us, and He often does that through various trials and tribulations. Also in regards to living stones, After the crucifixion of Jesus, He was placed in a hollowed out stone, and the Resurrection took place within that stone. There was life in the stone, Hallelujah! In regards to Christ and Him being a living stone, He is spoken of throughout God’s word as the Foundation Stone, the Corner Stone, the Precious Stone, and the Top Stone, in God’s divine building (Isa. 28:16; 1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:4; Rev. 4:3; Zech. 4:7).
If we as God’s children embrace the fire and pressure of our present sufferings, there is a blessed opportunity and promise of transformation. As we see in Job 23:10, “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” It is through much tribulation we enter the Kingdom (Acts 14:22). Those who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). Suffering is essential for the growth of Christ’s life within. Without the cross there is no resurrection of this life within our living. We too must experience the immense suffering of the crucified life to further possess and express God’s eternal life. The cross is the bond of God and man. As you experience the cross after a time, you learn to embrace it, knowing that God’s relationship is in that suffering, for we share in the sufferings of Christ. “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” Philippians 3:10-11.
I will end with the words of Francis Fenelon…
“I am sorry to hear of your troubles, but I am sure you realize that you must carry the cross with Christ in this life. Soon enough there will come a time when you will no longer suffer. You will reign with God and he will wipe away your tears with His own hand. In His presence, pain and sighing will forever flee away.
So while you have the opportunity to experience difficult trials, do not lose the slightest opportunity to embrace the cross. Learn to suffer in humility and in peace. Your deep self-love makes the cross too heavy to bear. Learn to suffer with simplicity and a heart full of love. If you do you will not only be happy in spite of the cross, but because of it. Love is pleased to suffer for the Well-Beloved. The cross which conforms you into His image is a consoling bond of love between you and Him.”
May the grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you all.