Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My own little Gulag

A couple of weeks back God brought my attention to a lie that I was believing- I had been exiled, sent to suffer in obscurity in my own little Gulag. Shortly thereafter Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the author of the classic, The Gulag Archipelago died.

God had liberated Alexander Solzhenitsyn while he was exiled in the gulag:

"It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts. … That is why I turn back to the years of my imprisonment and say, sometimes to the astonishment of those about me: "Bless you, prison!" I … have served enough time there. I nourished my soul there, and I say without hesitation: "Bless you, prison, for having been in my life!”

The Lord pointed me to 1 Peter 1 and to the fact that I had been scattered, chosen by God, through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit for obedience. God wanted my, 'Yes!' to that reality. The only other choice we usually have when faced wiht trials is to become cynical, disillusioned and bitter.

I was reminded of just a person like that on our holidays. He was a service station attendant who gave anything but service clearly because of hurts in his life. I imagined pumping gas in rural BC was not satisfying what he wanted and he was going to let the world know it.

Peter goes on to write that 'grace & peace be ours in abundance'. The Father, 'in His great mercy,' knows what He's doing and has given us 'a living hope.' All that we have comes from Him. I believe that God wants not only me but all of us to give up on self-sufficiency.

We can live that reality because through faith we are 'shielded by God's power'. There is no gulag that God is not Lord of!

We may suffer grief for a short time, yet we can rejoice greatly. I read this after fresh reflections on Peter being delivered from prison in Acts 12. He knew a thing or two about suffering, about being delivered, about messing up and ultimately giving up any self-sufficiency that he might have had. Jesus himself had told Peter,

"I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."
"Delightfully dependant" is how Fred Smith put it in his later years.

God helped me to see that I needed to repent of my old attitude and echo what Alexander Solzhenitsyn had discovered- 'Bless you, prison, for having been in my life!'

Is there a gulag you are currently trying to escape from?

1 Peter 1:1-9
To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered about, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, or you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


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