The last thirty-six hours have been an eye-opening journey for me. The Lord has used my daughter to teach me a lot about the “work God requires of us” that Jesus speaks about in John 6:28-29. The disciples came to Him and asked, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered them, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One he has sent.”
I witnessed a girl broken. Her heart destroyed in many ways by God. Because going into this relationship that God led her to, she believed Jesus spoke ever so softly to her, “Trust me, I will show you something beautiful.”
I was wrestling with the Lord this morning in prayer reminding Jesus that He spoke that to my daughter about six months ago when she was begging Him for direction as to whether to enter into a dating relationship with a godly young man. She is twenty and has never dated. She had chosen to give her heart fully to Jesus and to trust Him to bring the man in His timing. She was even as bold as to ask Jesus to not bring her a man until it was her husband. She had seen so many of her friends be so damaged and hurt by immature boys that so flippantly came in and out of their lives – leaving them wounded and hurt. She didn’t want that. She didn’t need that. By God’s grace, she knew who she was in Christ. She knew she didn’t have to have a “boyfriend” to be valuable. She understood that there was purpose for her in the Kingdom of God. As a matter of fact, there were things she could accomplish as a single woman that she probably couldn't do as a married woman, so for this season, she had decided to RUN! Run after Jesus and the Kingdom of God.
And running was what she was doing when this nice godly young man came along. He began to pursue her with a godly pursuit. She had no interest in him in the beginning, but his perseverance and pursuit of her began to win her over. After four months of his persistent pursuit, he wins her trust. She hears Jesus whisper, “Trust me, I will show you something beautiful.” So, in faith, she steps out. And in faith, I know she pleased her heavenly father. Because after all Hebrews tells us clearly, “it is impossible to please God without faith.” So, this relationship pleased God. It remained 100% pure. They spurred each other on in the Lord. As a result of their differences, they learned what it meant to be flexible and to learn from each other. They chose to flee sexual immorality and chose to never kiss during this dating relationship.
Six months into the relationship, God led this young man to end the relationship he had pursued. He apparently came to the conclusion that their differences were more than could be bridged, and they both agreed that they were having to work too hard to make it happen. So six months later almost to the day, here she is sitting with her mom and dad in her bedroom weeping with a broken heart. The very thing she had trusted Jesus to protect her from.
In many ways, her initial response was to blame Jesus and be mad at God for doing this to her. After all, Jesus led her here. So the wrestling begins, and we begin to try to understand this mystery. How can God be sovereign and good? It doesn't seem to match up. How can God lead her into a relationship that He knew the whole time what would come of it? It almost seems like a cruel joke.
And this is where John 6:28-29 comes back into play. I saw my daughter that night, completely broken, but with a choice. Am I going to push through all my questions of why and am I going to just simply TRUST? If she stayed in the why, it would inevitably lead her to misery and hardness. Thankfully, by God’s grace, the next morning, that sweet child slipped into her prayer closet (she had made her walk-in closet into a prayer room), and she got on her face before God and began to literally cry out. I mean utter and total brokenness before God - screaming, yelling, crying, and proclaiming. But it was in that moment that she did the work that God requires…“to believe.” She chose to believe that even though I don’t understand why, I choose to trust you, Jesus. The following is an exert of what she wrote to the Lord in her brokenness…
“Oh my soul, why do you resent the One who you know is sufficient to bring you rest? Oh, the battle between the mind and the heart! My mind is saying – don't do it. You can’t afford to trust Him again. How can He really be good and sovereign? But my heart is saying – my Daddy is good, and He is faithful. I may not understand, but in the Name of the One who died for me, I will trust Him! My God is good. I know He is. I have seen it and felt it. This life is hard. There is heartbreak, and we often won't understand. But my Abba is unchanging, and He holds me even now. My soul is wholly surrendered to Him, and it forever will be."
“God’s refusals are ALWAYS merciful – ‘severe mercies’ at times, but mercies all the same. God never denies our hearts desires except to give us something BETTER!” – Elisabeth Elliot
In those moments of brokenness, it is “work” to believe. Because we can’t see it. It doesn't make sense to our human minds. This is the same belief that Abraham had when the Word of God says that “he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:18 says, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him. Verse 19 says “without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead….Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God. But was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why it was credited to him as righteousness.” Wow! Against all hope, Abraham in hope, believed God for His promise. It says he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead. DEAD! But what is Jesus’ promise from death? He brings LIFE. Do we really believe that? So this brings me to this morning as I was crying out once again for healing over my sweet daughter’s heart that she had surrendered to Jesus, and Jesus led her to a place of brokenness.
My journal entry:
“But, Lord, in the midst of all the unanswered questions of WHY, we trust! We trust in the ONE that formed her heart in the beginning to put it back together. It’s beyond my comprehension as to why, You, Jesus, would have led her into a relationship that would lead her to a broken heart! Where is the “something beautiful” you promised her? Jesus, you told her to trust you and you would show her something beautiful. Is 'something beautiful' her broken heart? Is this 'something beautiful' her utter brokenness? Is that really what you want? Her misery? That sounds so cruel and mean. A God who loves to see us miserable and broken? I don't know Jesus… I don’t know…"
Then I heard the still small voice bring to my thoughts:
“Do you think death is pleasant, Beloved? … but from death comes life! True life. Our daughter has experienced in the last 2 months death to herself and death to some dreams that some her age will never face. However, because she has chosen to do the only work I require of her, which is to believe – she will walk in abundant life. She will truly live. It’s what you have prayed for; it’s what she has asked me for.
My ways are higher, dear one.
My definition of good is often different than your definition of good.
My definition of beauty is often different than your definition of beauty.
My thoughts are not your thoughts.
You may think brokenness is ugly. I think brokenness is beautiful.
It is out of brokenness I can shape and mold into my image when “belief” is the action taken. It’s sincere. It’s beautiful.
Many don’t choose to believe me that are broken. Instead, they try to put themselves back together through self-reliance. Or they fall off into self-indulgence. As a result, they become sharp edges, hardened in their hearts, a mess, headed straight to destruction.
If only they would believe and trust in me, this is what I would do…
I would turn:
Ashes to a crown of beauty
Mourning into the oil of gladness
Despair into a garment of praise
Shame into a double portion of goodness
Disgrace into an inheritance of everlasting Joy.
I say to you, Beloved, in order to live you must die. If anyone would follow me, he must take up his cross daily.
So, while you will never fully understand why I do certain things, I just say to you, Trust me, and I will show you something beautiful."