Our Obstacle Course

1 Kings 17:5-7

Part of every boot camp experience is the grueling, grinding, and sometimes daunting obstacle course. It is neither fun nor easy, but its demanding discipline prepares the recruit for whatever situations he or she may face in the future, particularly under enemy fire. In the spiritual life, before we can truly benefit from “the hidden life” that God uses to prepare us for whatever future He has planned for us, we must overcome at least four major obstacles. I think of them as four tough membranes of the flesh: pride, fear, resentment, and long-standing habits. Conquering these layers of resistance will prepare us for the future and harden us for combat with the adversary.

In a very real sense, God has designed a boot camp for His children, but it doesn’t last just eight weeks or ten weeks. Nor is it a weekend seminar we can take or a day-long workshop we can attend. God’s training course takes place periodically throughout the Christian life. And there, in the very center of obstacles and pain and solitude, we come to realize how alive God is in our lives—how alive and in charge. He will invade us, reduce us, break us, and crush us, so that we will become the people He intends us to be.

No matter how many years we walk with the Lord, we must still, at times, pass through our own Gethsemane. It happens every time He sends us to the brook to live the hidden life. It happens every time He disorients us as He displaces us; every time He pulls out all the props; every time He takes away more of the comforts; every time He removes most of the “rights” we once enjoyed. And He does all this so that He can mold us into the person that we otherwise never would be. He knows what He’s about.

Elijah went to Cherith as an energetic spokesman for God—a prophet. He emerged from Cherith as a deeper man of God. All this happened because he was left beside a brook that dried up. Alone, but not forgotten. Tested, but not abandoned.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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