“How do you know you’ve had an encounter with God? Here’s how you know you’ve really met God: You limp.
"...Unless something comes into your life that breaks you of your self-righteousness and pride, you may think you believe you’re a sinner saved by grace, but you’re not. You don’t really believe it. You may say you’re a sinner saved by grace, but you don’t really believe it in the depths of your being. And as a result, you are not a sign of the gospel. The gospel hasn’t really formed you deep down inside. You’re not a strength-out-of-weakness person. You just aren’t. He will bring you down if He’s going to use you. You will have to have the sign of Jonah in your life—life out of death, strength out of weakness.”
--Tim Keller, “The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World,” Desiring God National Conference 2006
I listened to this message by Keller last week and was blown away. All of it is excellent--worth a listen--but this quote at the end made me get up and pause it so I could copy every word. I felt like God in His kindness was giving me one more puzzle piece, bringing more of the big picture into focus.
"WHY" is the obvious question we ask when we go through trials. We usually can't see at the time; we learn to trust that God is using them for our good and His glory. Sometimes He gives us answers later; other times, we never see (this side of heaven) what He was doing. As I heard these words from Keller, it seemed to me that God was graciously shedding light on the dark desert He took me through in late 2004-early 2005. Since coming out of that, I have been able to say that I can see He had purpose in it. But when I heard this quote, I actually felt praise welling up within me for that miserable time. I saw so clearly how I had to go through that in order to be able to understand the centrality of the cross--the gospel-centered perspective He has been driving deep into my heart over the last year.
God used that dark time to break me. He broke me so that He could expose the self-righteousness and pride in my heart. He broke me so that He could rebuild me deep within, centered on the glorious gospel of grace. How thankful I am that He brought me down so that He could use me. How I pray that He'll continue to drive those truths deep into my heart and use me to point others to the cross.