Never Taking Offense
Today let’s explore the last section of my motto for seeking God: Ever grateful, never satisfied, relentlessly pursuing Him for more of Himself, never taking offense.
The reason I started pursuing God for more was because of the Bible. It makes some ludicrous promises. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do the works I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these.” Jesus drops a double truly on the front - I tell you the truth - is literally “truly, truly.” Jesus only uses the double truly when he is about to drop a revelation on us that he knows is so absurd we will dismiss it out of hand. So he double verifies it at the beginning. The works I have been doing refers to the works of the Kingdom. I read this passage and saw the impotence of my own life and the church I grew up with and I wanted to close the gap. I wanted to live in a way that the promises Jesus made could be realized. So I pursued.
For years I preached on things like healing and power and miracles and saw very little. But I preached the Word, not my experiences. I went to a conference one time and prayed for a woman and she felt heat. I thought, “Here it comes. God is answering the promise.” That was the last time that happened for years. Years. But I kept pursuing. Kept holding on.
Perseverance is vital for breakthrough.
I started seeing some breakthroughs later on, but not like I wanted, not like the Bible promised. I had four promises from God that I held on to. One of them came via the audible voice of God. All four were very specific. One had a sign and the sign had come true, but the promise lagged behind. I had prayed over these promises for a decade and none of them had come true. I was so disappointed. I felt like God had lied to me. I knew the right Bible verses to quote; it wasn’t a theological struggle. It was emotional pain, but I had to sort it out to survive ministry.
I took a long drive with my buddy Ron Walborn and he told me to have more fun. I did. I became intentional about fun with a grateful heart. It was a critical factor in restoring the goodness of God at the center of my soul.
But the breakthrough came one day alone with God. Most life change occurs alone with God. We wrestle with God; He speaks somehow to us; we surrender. And the breakthrough comes. This time I was drawn to read Hebrews 11. You know the passage. The hall of faith. All of these great men and women of God get a promise from God, they hold on, and God delivers. It’s powerful. Some of them, like Abraham, held on for 25 years. It’s easy to read it in a paragraph, but it is hard to live when it is your 25 years. There is a lot of doubt, a lot of hurt, a lot of disappointment and a lot of tears in that paragraph. But the pattern is clear: God promises, they hold on, God delivers.
Then you get to v.32, “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barack, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead raised to life again.” Come on! Isn’t that good. God promised. They held on. God delivered. Just like it is supposed to be.
But it doesn’t end there.
Hebrews 11:35, “There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawn in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated - the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.”
Wait! That can’t be right! God promised. They held on. But God didn’t deliver? How can that be? They were commended for their faith, but they didn’t receive the promise. When I read this passage in the midst of my darkness I thought, “You do lie!” You promised. They held on. But you didn’t deliver.
Then I read the last sentence. Hebrews 11:40, “God has planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” And then I saw it. There are some promises that God gives us that are not for us. They are for a future generation. He could have told us that. But he didn’t. We thought they were for us. We fought like they were for us. But they were not for us; they were for a future generation. But only because we are faithful do they receive what we fought for. God is an eternal King with eternal Kingdom and an eternal perspective. You can never make sense of the temporary realm without factoring in eternity when you follow an eternal God.
I surrendered that day. I committed myself to fight on even if none of my promises ever came true. I committed to fight on for future generations that they might see the promises I fight for. I committed to fight on like they were for me, knowing they might be for another, and I would be rewarded and blessed either way. And that fighting for the King is worth it either way. That was the day I added this part of the motto. Never taking offense.
My offense was blocking me from God. My offense was casting a shadow over my soul. I was making it too much about me. It is easy to take offense. We get hurt. Hurt by pain, hurt by unanswered prayer, hurt by delays, hurt by lack of breakthroughs. We get hurt. We must not take offense. I do not always understand God’s ways. I often don’t. But I know I can trust Him because He is the God of the cross. He didn’t watch our suffering indifferently. He suffered with us and for us. You can trust Him. You can surrender. You can give up your offense. He is worth it.
Ever grateful, never satisfied, relentlessly pursuing Him for more of Himself, never taking offense. A motto to pursue by.