Triumph! Now we’re getting somewhere. Who doesn’t love the big triumphant finish? Everyone loves to see the answer to their prayers—especially when the answer has been a long time in coming. Long awaited victories are defining moments for all of us.
Previously, we’ve looked at the opportunities to lean into God’s heart during times of both suffering and waiting. But when He bids us to take up our cross and follow Him, or when He asks us to watch and wait with Him, we don’t do these things merely because we think this is how we will eventually come out to a place of victory. We are drawn to share every part of life with Him because of a victory that has already been won. I believe the key to living in a place of intimate trust is found when we learn to rest in this most amazing of all realities.
As we walk in relationship with God, we develop a history with Him. We come to know His faithfulness not by merely reading about it, or even by hearing about it, but by experiencing it for ourselves.
The early church understood this. The time after Jesus’ ascension had to have been a whirlwind. There were huge losses, but there were also amazing victories. And each one of those victories became markers that kept the early church focused on who He was, rather than on the current trials.
At the beginning of Acts chapter 12, James (the brother of John) had already been put to death by Herod. Now Peter has been seized. But the night before Peter was to be brought to trial we’re told: “…the church was earnestly praying to God for him.”
They had already lost James, and now it wasn’t looking too good for Peter. But the church was praying. The church was believing. Because they knew whom they believed. What’s even more awesome is that as the church was praying, Peter was busy sleeping!
The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. -Acts 12:6-7
I love that picture! Instead of being offended that trials kept coming, Peter became more confident in the midst of them. So confident that he was able to take a little snooze right in the middle of the ordeal.
If you recall, this wasn’t Peter’s first rodeo. He was imprisoned before (Acts 5) and miraculously freed by an angel. It would seem Peter allow that experience to become one of those “markers” in his history with God.
But that doesn’t mean he knew exactly how God was going to come through. After all, they had just lost James. Despite that tragedy, things were about to get a little humorous. The church is filled with faith and praying fervently. Peter is filled with peace and resting while imprisoned. Basically, they’re doing exactly what they should be doing. Then the miracle happens–and they don’t even realize it!
Peter thinks he’s having a vision. When he finally “comes to himself” he goes to the prayer meeting in process for him but they don’t believe it’s really him! They think it’s his “angel”!
This is all so human and relatable. Yet still so filled with faith. Their faith was demonstrated in how they positioned their lives before Him–not in how they felt, or even in how quickly they caught on to what God was doing.
I can relate. I’ve been in one of those seasons myself. There have been lots of challenges, but I’ve purposed to set my face like a flint to focus on Him. But sometimes I’m so busy staying focused, that I’m not able to see the miracles beginning to unfold all around me.
I’m willing to bet there are miracles unfolding all around you. too. Sometimes we just need to catch a glimpse outside of our limited perspective so we can actually see them.
Believing God doesn’t mean we have a clue about all the details, it just means we believe Him and know that His love never fails. The early church got this in a way we often don’t. They saw miracles–really, they expected miracles–but they also saw devastating losses and expected persecution. Yet they saw no contradiction. Just like there is joy in sorrow and suffering, there is still suffering even while we are victorious. But, to quote Bill Johnson, there is a significant difference:
“Every loss is temporary. Every victory is eternal.”
In His presence and in His timing every loss will be restored. But are we willing to trust Him now? Because, beloved one, that is what He’s after.
I believe in signs and wonders. I believe we should do what Jesus did. As we draw nearer to Him, and become more like Him, I believe we will see more and more of His power and glory manifested on a regular basis.
Yet I believe the biggest miracle is the transformation of the human heart.
“Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” –Hebrews 12:2 NLT
His victory is our victory. It’s already sealed. It’s already done. But will each of us allow Him to have the victory He most desires as the reward of His suffering:
Our fully conquered hearts.
Here is the podcast link: Beloved week 4: “Love that Never Fails”
(NOTE: I will post the full curriculum for the last two weeks at the end of the series – still making some tweaks 🙂 )
And the SoundCloud link: