Soon after posting yesterday I walked into town by my usual route – past the door with the ERA lock that provoked so much revelation back in the summer of 2009. I must have passed it, at a conservative estimate, around 200 times since then and have only seen it open on 2 or 3 occasions – all of which were significant. So having just told the story, I was encouraged to see it ajar!
I was especially amused, as yesterday’s date 10.12.10 – 12 in between two 10s – made me think of ‘the authority that is gained through the squeeze of testing’ As Paul and Barnabus told the early Christians, it is ‘through many hardships that we inherit the kingdom’ (Acts 14v22). More to the point, as Martin Scott says, it is not our high points, our mountain tops, that cause us to grow in authority, but our low points. Jesus Himself set the pattern – He was lifted up and seated in heavenly places because He went to the lowest place:
‘He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him…’ Philippians 2v8-9.
‘God… gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up‘ James 4v6,10.
Alternatively, to quote Graham Cooke, “opposition from people is to teach us grace and mercy; opposition from the demonic is to teach us authority“. Indeed , breakthrough only comes through testing, as Jesus experienced in the wilderness, Joseph in prison, David in Adullums cave and Moses in the backside of the desert, to mention only a few heroes of the faith. It is invariably the way God does things! To put it another way, there is always a ‘battle at the gate’:
‘Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of sons. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate‘ Psalm 127v5
He will be a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. Isaiah 28v6
If you think back to the battle of Helms Deep at the end of the first Lord of the Rings film, you’ll remember the battle at the gate! The entry/exit point is the most hotly contested – that is why we so often refer to ‘breakthough.’ The doors are locked, guarded, defended to protect any home, castle or walled city. The gateway is where the watchman is positioned on the walls and can shout his news down to the gatekeeper – whether to open to welcome friends or shut the gates against an advancing army (2 Samuel 20v24-27).
Jesus talked about entering through the narrow gate. It can be a squeeze! There are obstacles to overcome; we may have to step out in front or go against the flow… But if there is a threshold to be crossed, in time, in space, in authority and effectiveness – a new level to be attained, a new land to enter – whatever language we prefer to use, there will be a struggle before we come into the spacious place (Psalm 66v10-12). Again, Paul put it this way:
… a great door for effective work has opened to me, with much opposition. 1 Corinthians 16v9
It’s encouraging really! Our struggles are gaining us ground. More than that, in the midst of it all we are promised the strength that we need from the source of all Strength (Isaiah 28v6) 🙂
Fling wide the doors!