Clinging on for dear life

How do we deal with the massive highs and lows of kingdom breakthroughs?  Andy Hawthorne reflects.

It’s often been said that life is a roller coaster. This is certainly what we’ve been seeing here at The Message over the last few months. We’ve been hearing about our own missions teams and friends of The Message seeing amazing stories of mass salvations, not just here in the UK but around the world. At the same time, we’ve been experiencing illness, tragic death and financial pressure.

About 15 years ago when things were similarly tough, I even for a moment considered going back to my first career selling fashion accessories. I wrote to my brother Michael, who was then a missionary in South Sudan. He was living in a mud hut with no electricity and no running water, but I managed to get an email through to him.

I told him, ‘life is such a roller coaster and sometimes I feel like going back to selling braces.’ I didn’t really mean it, but this is what Michael (who’s a lot cleverer than me) replied:

It seems to me that a life of any purpose on the earth is likely to be a roller coaster; the only difference with being a Christian is that it’s a wilder ride, having a spiritual dimension as well (eat your heart out, Alton Towers). As you imply viz-a-viz selling braces, the only alternative life on offer (for now) would be one of those little kiddie rides you can also get at the fairground, where you sit on the tiny pointless train and go round and round.

This, one has to admit, can seem quite pleasant from time to time, and maybe the Lord in His grace will offer you such an interval whilst He stands lovingly watching you trundle by waving, holding your baggage and of course paying for the ride. But, like all His children, I suspect you are the sort who quickly gets bored.

In Mark 1 we see how Jesus endures the highs and lows of living on the cutting edge of God’s purposes. As he’s baptised, Jesus has an incredible power encounter.

When he comes out of the water the Spirit descends of him like a dove. But then the very next verse says:

At once the Spirit sent him into the desert where he was tested and tempted for forty days.

Satan put him through the ringer for six weeks and tried to undermine everything he knew about the Father. Yet Jesus stood the test and in Luke 4 we read that he came out of the desert ‘in the power of the Spirit’.

Then, before you know it, he’s on another down when he gets the news that his best friend John the Baptist has been arrested and is on death row. Shortly afterwards Jesus hears that he’s has been beheaded.

Despite all this he refuses to give up. It’s this kind of pressure that makes people shrink back and say, ‘This is too hard.’ There is a choice for us all to make.

We can be on the little kiddie ride in our little world of just living small or we can experience the massive highs of kingdom breakthroughs and the massive lows of the ferocious satanic opposition that goes with it.

Will you choose to stay on the roller coaster today?

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