“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” ~ Hebrews 12:11
Here’s the reality about spiritual formation: the forming in “formation” is painful. Forming always means change. Let’s face it, we often don’t like change. The way that God changes us involves removing things that aren’t about Him… removing our unstable, earthly values and replace them with and forming in us His unshakable, eternal values.
Everything that He does and allows is for our greatest good, for our spiritual maturity, and for our everlasting joy. I know that’s difficult to believe, especially when we are going through difficult seasons in our lives. And that’s why we live by faith… even and especially when we don’t see and we’re not sure of what God is up to in our confusion and crises. As He removes the unstable and replaces it with the unshakable, we walk and live by faith, believing that God is who He says He is and that He does what He says He does. But remember that in the moment, it’s not pleasant. It’s not always filled with immediate joy. That tends to and seems to come afterward.
Here’s what A.W. Tozer wrote about the pain of true spiritual formation in The Pursuit of God:
The ancient curse will not go out painlessly; the tough old miser within us will not lie down and die obedient to our command. He must be torn out of our heart like a plant from the soil; he must be extracted in agony and blood like a tooth from the jaw. He must be expelled from our soul by violence as Christ expelled the money changers from the temple. And we shall need to steel ourselves against his piteous begging, and to recognize it as springing out of self-pity, one of the most reprehensible sins of the human heart.
Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all Those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Where in your life is He removing the unstable to form the unshakable?