Travail For The World
By Fred Pruitt
I just read this mornings “Summit Living”. A question was triggered. I wonder if you have some thoughts on the matter. Mr. Grubb says, “Immersed in meeting the needs of others, travailing in birth until Christ is formed in them as in us……” It seems to me that I swing like a pendulum between travailing (or something that is heading in that direction) for others, and not giving a damn about them. When I am in the former state it is hard to comprehend that I could ever not give a damn, but since I have most recently been in the latter….. well henceforth the question. I mean really does one who has made it past the “school days” live in a constant state of travail? I will leave it at that for now.
Thank you for your time!
Thanks for writing and for your questions.
We live by faith, not by sight. Therefore, we cannot make the word “travail” be identified with some emotional state we may or may not be feeling. Years ago, I certainly thought that way. In my early days, they would talk about having a “burden for souls” and “travailing in prayer,” etc., and in my thinking, that meant I was supposed to be feeling a certain way, i.e., “feeling” this “deep concern” or “burden” for others during prayer-time as well as in my daily living.
But it was hard sometimes to “whump it up.” I thought that the entire process was pretty much up to me. The amount of “concern” I “felt” or “demonstrated” directly affected the outcome of my prayers, I thought. In other words, if my prayers had genuine fervency or deep concern for specific others, then I felt God would answer those prayers. If I didn’t have that fervency, then in my thinking I wasn’t praying hard enough or with enough of a “burden” and therefore no answer, or not the one I wanted.
The answer gets a bit clearer when we understand Who we are. I mean really catch it! Let’s get this really straight. When we have passed from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Light, we come back into that Original from which we came. The Love-Force of the Universe, God Himself. Formerly we served ourselves (from our inner center of self-for-self fueled by the enemy, Eph 2:2,3) blindingly, maybe thinking we were pretty good sorts of folks, but still at the basis of ourselves we held onto the false notion, the only “notion” we’d ever known, that we were just ourselves alone, and because of that, we were always thinking of ourselves in a “needy” sort of way. “I need” this, “I need” that. Our focus, even in “doing good” for others, was on our own supposed “need.”
We do not realize this is actually Satan’s kingdom of darkness in us. Because of Satan’s blindness we inherited in Adam, we only can perceive there to be something incomplete in ourselves, because even though we were made for glory, still inwardly we only know wrath at the center. So we all had to find ourselves in what other people or the world could do or be for us. My spouse to meet “my” needs. My children to make “me” proud. My job, my home, my ministry, my car, my possessions, my reputation, my accomplishments, my my my my my! All to complete “me.”
That is the nature of Satan’s kingdom of wrath, the realm of separation, independence and rebellion against God. To get, to take, to acquire, to possess, to dominate, to gain ascendency over others. The whole world “lies in the control of the wicked one,” says 1 John 5:19, and the nature of the wicked one (self-seeking-for-self) permeates all the world’s activities. As the “preacher” wrote in Ecclesiastes: “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.” (Ecc 1:2).
But now we have passed from darkness unto Light, as Paul said. And now we have inwardly the nature of Him Who has become the True self within us. When Christ is our life, then our very nature, that is, what is natural to us, is to be the embodiment of God’s love, 24 hours a day.
The outflow of God’s love from our lives has nothing to do with how we “feel.” It simply IS that we ARE HE living as ourselves, and therefore the “love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Spirit Who is given unto us.” (Rom 5:5). Paul did not say, the love of God “ought to be” flowing out of us, but “the love of God IS shed abroad in us.”
And in that new awakening, our true divine nature overtakes our entire human life. (2 Pet 1:4). We are the Love of God in our daily living. Why? Because HE IS our True Self! He is Love, and He and I are one spirit, one Person. Therefore “I” am love. I live, yet not I but Christ. My identity does not exist on its own but only finds true personhood in being fixed in Him, because only out of Christ does my True Identity come — “for ye are dead, and your life is hid in Christ in God.” (Col 3:3).
Now we say a bold thing. We can only say this in bold almost “boasting” faith, the kind that looks beyond us to the Life which is in us, declaring, “God is mighty in me!” This is the faith God is after, because this is the faith that frees the love to flow. A faith that takes fully hold of the completeness that has been given, and says with Mary, “Be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38).
Our lives are then from that point purposed in His purposes, so that whatever we do now, He being in us AND as us, is driven and fueled by this love, travail and true intimate concern. It is simple, and the most profound thing in the universe. We are HE living as us, which means we ARE LOVE expressing as us.
It is the natural flow of Life now that we are part of His Kingdom. And everything in His Kingdom serves the purposes of redemptive love, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether watching TV, cooking supper, going to work, or witnessing or praying. Whatever we do, think or say is GOD going forth in HIS self-giving activities. We are the bodies He uses to manifest Himself to the world and to take into Himself the world’s darkness and swallow it up into the Light, reconciling the world to Himself, as us. As Paul says and I must have quoted thousands of times:
“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.” (2 Cor 4:10-13).
Paul says that is our daily life. “ALWAYS bearing about in the body … and we who live are ALWAYS delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake.” Why – to pay back the Lord or to gain spiritual trophies? NO – it is for “Life in YOU.” That is, the “others” in Paul’s life, and it is the same with us. This is our life in Christ. It is Who Christ is, and Who He is by the Holy Spirit in us!
Ok, so there are “down” times. Times when you have no “burden,” no particular “concern” to deal with. Praise God! You got a day off!
Think of the military. When people join the military, they sign their lives away. For the period of their service, their life is not their own, 24/7. If they take a day off, go on leave, etc., still they can be called back in at a moment’s notice and sent off to some situation. They can work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, like most of the rest of us, or they can be required to work 24 hours a day, nonstop, until they drop from exhaustion. They have no say-so, ultimately, over their own lives, and even in “off times” or “vacation” they are on call, as long as they are in the service.
Same with us, only our term of service is eternal. We are not our own, having been bought with a price. And now we are as that sacrifice that has been bound to the horns of the altar (Ps 118:27). We exist to be the corn of wheat that falls into the ground and dies, and thus brings forth much fruit (Jn 12:24). We have no other purpose, for that is the purpose of the Father within us. Every moment of our existence, therefore, is given to this and to no other purpose. Whether we are momentarily “on leave” or on the “front,” still we are God’s, and everything that happens in our lives is for the redemption of the world. Our immediate world as well as the WHOLE world. Period!
“O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works. Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.” (Ps 105:1-3)
“And let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.” (Ps 106:48).