Today I talked to a good friend traveling across three states to take his son to school. He was experiencing car trouble, financial drama and now his son was having a terrible allergic reaction that was causing the boy’s eyes to swell nearly shut. Traumatic! But he still had a good attitude and continued to pray and look for the blessings. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us that when we seek the Lord we are being changed from glory to glory. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass [mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” It’s not just the one time, when we get born again, but the many times we are required by God to drop aspects of our old nature and put on the new nature of the Christ within. The glory part on either side, is awesome, but what about the “to” in between?
CHANGE – OUCH! Keeping the status quo may not be exciting, but at least it’s somewhat comfortable—it’s what we’re used to. But when we’re looking in the mirror, wanting to see more of the Lord in our lives, we’re going to be going from glory to glory. The increasing levels of glory are great, but we have to get through that little “to” and it can be kind of tough, as my friend was finding out: new level, new devil.
I learned something amazing about Psalm 23 just yesterday, that I think applies here. The Psalm reads: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want [lack]. He maketh [is making] me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth [is leading] me beside the still waters. He restoreth [is restoring] my soul ” (vv. 1-3). Remember that when you read a word in the King James version, the “eth” is not past, but an ongoing action.
The teacher/guide had a group in the Negev desert. The guide had the students look across the way at a bare hillside traversed with well-worn sheep paths. The group watched as two shepherd girls led their flock across the landscape. He told the group that in this area, this was called “green pastures!” It looked totally brown and barren in the video.
The guide said the sheep paths were just far enough apart so that a sheep on either side could reach into the area between paths to eat. Eat what? It didn’t look like there was anything there. He explained that there was a little moisture in the morning and it only was enough to moisten around the bottom of the rocks. That’s where small tufts of grass would grow. The video panned in and sure enough you could see the damp darkened part at the bottom of the rocks and there popped up 3-inch to 5-inch thin tufts of what looked like a small weed-like grass. The take was so little, the sheep had to keep moving from one tuft to the next, but as they went they were rewarded with enough food to satisfy them.
That’s how it is when we traverse the “to” between the glory spots. It is in these times that the Lord does some restoring of our souls. Our spirits are perfect the minute we get born again, but our souls need some help and it’s in the times between the glory levels that the growing pains take place in our souls. A great example of this is with Joseph.
Joseph was the youngest son and the favorite of his father. He was happy and blessed, but he had one recognizable downfall: his pride. He had a dream and instead of keeping it to himself, he bragged about it to his brothers, who already didn’t like him because their father liked him best.
“Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, ‘Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.’
“His brothers said to him, ‘Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?’ And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said” (Gen. 37:5-8).
Joseph was young and excited about his dream. He wanted everyone to know how blessed he was, so he told his brothers and his parents about the prophesy God gave him. But this was rude. The prophesy was for him alone. It was prideful of him and unthoughtful to blatantly blast his family with his private revelation. He was a child and probably meant no harm, but sometimes we as adults also want to blast people with how great and righteous we are as Christians and all the wonderful things we’re doing. But as we go through the “to” from glory to glory, the Lord has the knack for humbling us so we remember that we are not so smart, really, without Him!
Joseph’s brothers were so jealous and hateful, they intended to kill him. The older brother talked the others out of it, but they decided to leave him a pit to die. Then they sat down to eat and when they looked up they saw a company of Ishmeelites and decided they could sell Joseph instead and make some money. But there was another tribe, the Midianites, who came by just then.
“Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.
“And Reuben [the older brother] returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes” (Gen. 37:28-29).
And this was just the beginning of Joseph’s travel through the “to,” between his glory with his father and the glory he ended up having as Pharaoh’s right-hand man.
What do you think Joseph thought about? What emotional trauma did he go through during this time? He found out his brothers hated him enough to want to kill him. They not only stole his prized jacket, a gift from his father, but they didn’t even leave him with any water. He never knew that they were going to come back for him and sell him instead, though the idea they would trade him for money would hardly be much of a consolation in such a situation. Then he was probably tied up by the Midianites, then handed over to the Ishmeelites, who also probably treated him harshly as a foreigner and a prisoner till they could get him to Egypt, where they’d also sell him as merchandise.
Then when Joseph got to Egypt he had some glory times and went through more “to” experiences as well. But you never see that pride coming up again. He grew in the “to.”
God is with us in these tough life experiences so that we can grow. Each experience where we are challenged to get rid of some old man characteristic like pride, or bitterness or anger or laziness, or whatever it is, we come through to a higher place of glory in Him. As Joseph said about his experience: “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Gen. 50:20).
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