REACHING FOR THE INCOMPARABLE (by permission; chp 7 from Ray Prinzings Book - Whispers of His Call)
"This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." [Philippians 3:13-14].
"In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own." [Romans 8:18-19, Phillips].
Whenever the cycles of pressure, chaos, confusion in the world
increases, we are caused to examine more closely our values and priorities.
Added to the contrast of present darkness, and the inflow of His LIGHT, we also
have the tremendous contrast between present suffering and future glory-- yes,
and the often seemingly vast span between present processings and that greater
ministry to come, when we receive that birthright portion, and are made partakers
of His fullness.
We also find that the world is selling itself for a bill of goods, paying an extreme price, undisclosed and unrealized, for they are blinded, and literally giving themselves for naught. This shall expose itself to them as a severe shock in due time. Little does the world realize what price they are paying for the illusions of the vanity of nothingness. When their bubbles burst they are devastated. Yet they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and pursue another illusive bubble with renewed frenzy. They will not count the cost, for they have no set of values which demands the satisfaction of reality.
But, as God apprehends His first fruits for that HIGH CALLING, they are admonished to sit down and count the cost of what it means to deviate from His path. I dare say, the cost is greater if we do not go on into His fullness than if we yield up everything, sell all that we have, that we might receive of His fullness. Yes, the cost of failure is greater than the cost of victory.
Divine economics are amazing! "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?" [Isaiah 55:1-2].
Buy-- the Hebrew word is "shabar" and simply means: to make that transaction of buying or selling. Yet He says, "Buy-- without money and without price."
Paul writes, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." And Phillips takes this to mean that the sufferings are "LESS THAN NOTHING," as over-against the glories to be revealed. We think we are paying a tremendous price with the sufferings we are enduring, and yet they shall be seen as "WITHOUT MONEY AND WITHOUT PRICE," for they are "LESS THAN NOTHING." What has really been the price, if it is less than nothing?
We pass through some of these extreme testings, when, as the Psalmist said, "All Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me." [Psalm 42:7]. When "Thou broughtest us into the net, Thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water." [Psalm 66:11-12]. Yet when it is all finished, and God brings us to the other side of the trial, and we partake of that more abundant flow of His life, we look back and realize it was no great price, but "less than nothing" compared to the victory that we have in Him. It demanded all that you had, every resource was spent in the battle, you paid the utmost farthing, and yet when it is over, it is as but a dream in the night, for the joy that cometh in the morning. When He imparts one moment of glory from the other side of the veil, you immediately forget how black was the darkness of the night before. How beautifully He swallows up the negatives into HIS positives.
So where the real cost comes in, is if we fail to pay "THE ALL" to obtain, and so miss out on that which is to be revealed. As we noted in the previous chapter, Esau sold his birthright, but he did not sell his salvation. He was just as much a son of Isaac after he sold his birthright to Jacob, as he was before he sold the birthright. But he was a lot poorer!
When Isaac blessed "both Jacob and Esau concerning things to come," [Hebrews 11:20], this was not something that Isaac just hoped and wished would take place. The Patriarchal blessings were passed on with such absolute assurance that it was a verified fact that it would take place.
Might we insert the thought, there is a tremendous power and authority in this realm of being a patriarch. We perceive that GOD is INVESTING in the children of God the power to either bless, or, withhold the blessing. And when they speak, it is as THE WORD OF THE LORD. Even as it is written, "He that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God; as the angel of the Lord before them." [Zechariah 12:8].
"Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways." [Job 22:28]. Tremendous challenge here for the fathers and mothers, whom God would bring into this realm of the patriarchs. The days ahead shall verify and fulfill this part of the HIGH CALLING also.
Thus Isaac blessed Esau, to the extent that when Jacob returned from his time of sojourn with Laban, returning with his wives, children, and all of his goods, and was about to meet Esau in the way, Jacob thought to give a large present to turn away the wrath of Esau from himself. But when Esau finally met Jacob face to face, he said, "I HAVE ENOUGH, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself" [Genesis 33:9]. Esau had been blessed by his father Isaac, and that blessing had been fulfilled, and he had enough for the realm in which he was living. BUT THERE WAS ONE THING HE DID NOT HAVE, because he had sold it long before, and that was "the birthright," which, having been sold, he never got back to himself again.
We have a lot of people who fit in with the "Esau-brethren-company." They are our BRETHREN! Esau was brother to Jacob, a relationship that was still acknowledged after they had both come into their own realms, and into their specific inheritances. But Esau also stands in type for those of our brethren who have SOLD OUT TOO CHEAPLY. A birthright for a mess of pottage, that is not a good bargain, nor an example to be followed, it is a warning!
There are those who have covenanted with God for their blessings, saying, "Lord, you do this for me, and I will do this for you. You bless me, and I will build this great work-- this kingdom." But it is COSTING THEM THE GLORY TO COME. That is the tremendous high price they are paying. God does bless them, and they have prospered-- built their kingdoms, healed the sick, and done many mighty things, but they are COMING SHORT of that realm of glory which He has reserved for those who go on-- selling all now, to have all later, when HE becomes their fulfillment.
Hear therefore the CALL OF THE SPIRIT, for the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man, "Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." [Matthew 13:46].
There is no doubt but that he had paid a real price for each pearl that he had bought up to this time. But he sold them all, gave up everything for the one of GREAT PRICE. The call and demand for the fullness of spiritual reality requires all of this! Yet dare we consider this of any great cost, when we are receiving the PEARL of great price-- of tremendous, incomparable value? We will have given up only smaller pearls of lesser price, until, by contrast, it becomes "less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us."
Often we are accused of preaching a "futuristic" message and we most humbly bow our head and acknowledge that the accusation is true. We do believe in A LIFE THAT IS LIVED IN THE NOW, but only with respect to how it relates to that which is yet to be revealed. Having "the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." [Romans 8:23-25]. Praise God, we can also say that the vision grows steadily brighter. Therefore we must keep examining our priorities, to make sure that we shall be prepared to receive at His appointed time. We have been blessed, and we have glimpsed a glory which is incomparable to anything else. We dare not, we cannot settle for anything less than that which He reveals to us by His Spirit. "Though the vision tarry, we will wait for it." Once one has glimpsed the PEARL OF GREAT PRICE, they will not be content with any of the other pearls in their treasury. Desire for the greater will grow within, until we are ready to GIVE ALL, that we might receive of His greater.
Paul noted that the "sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared..." This whole long phrase, "NOT WORTHY TO BE COMPARED," comes from the Greek word "axios" meaning: to be deserving, merited, answering to, or becoming meet. Thus Paul actually taught us that the sufferings of the present time do not deserve to be compared with, or contrasted by such glory as is about to be revealed.
For one thing, glory is not "merited." Furthermore, whatever the price, however extreme it seems while we were enduring the testing, it does not now deserve to be compensated with such majestic glory about to be revealed. HIS GLORY IS INCOMPARABLE!
One does not make a trade, ten hours of suffering for ten hours of glory. All of the trial and testing, all of the sacrifices made, all of the suffering endured, is "LESS THAN NOTHING" when placed over against the incomparable glory. How can one offer "less than nothing" for something so magnificent?
Nevertheless, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." [2 Corinthians 4:17-18].
Time, in its fragmentation, cannot be compared with the expanse of the coming ages. Seasons of affliction cannot be measured against age-abiding glory. The incomparables immediately go beyond the grasp of our comprehension. But we will ponder on the fringes for a moment, and thrill to that which we'll understand in due time, "when we shall KNOW as we are known." [1 Corinthians 13:12].
How much we "see through a glass darkly," as in a riddle, as by a mirror, those reflections from things about us, which are not the reality. When we try to speak of those things before us, we always try to relate them to the things which are behind, for a point of reference, yet the new has nothing in common with the old. Only the PRINCIPLES which God gave in the past will abide and carry through into the new. Faith, hope, charity, these will abide through the ages. But the manifestations, and all of the things that have happened, are fading, and will be gone, not to be repeated in some form of endless cycles.
1 John 3:2, Phillips, "BUT WHEN REALITY SHALL BREAK THROUGH..." then we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him AS HE IS! Not as He was, not as we have wished Him to be with our tunnel vision of man's tradition and doctrine, but to see Him in the glory that HE IS. 'When the Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory." [Colossians 3:4].
We have not yet apprehended, laid hold of it, grasped it firmly. Note this word "apprehended." It is a word that means "to attain," but it is also prefixed with a preposition that means "down." Thus it means to lay hold of it and pull it down into possession. It is as if it were at the end of our finger-tips, and not having a firm grasp on it, we cannot go around bragging that we have it, or that we have arrived.
So Paul goes on, "BUT THIS ONE THING I DO..." Here is the highest priority, to be centerized in its focus and purpose. "FORGETTING THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE BEHIND ..." Here the writer has drawn from the Greek athlete for his symbol and word, for it means: "to block out of your mind, a complete forgetting of all, of everything behind you." It is as if the runner forgets all other opponents in the race, for it would slow his speed if he began to think on the thud of their pounding feet. So keen is the race, if he even begins to think on those other runners behind him, listening for the sound to discern if they are gaining on him, his mind concentrating on things behind would allow his own feet to slow.
May the holy Spirit individually apply this to whatever it is to mean to us personally. If we are thinking continually on all the previous moves of God which are now behind us, and wishing we could re-capture those special moments, it will slow us down from grasping that which is before. Yes, forgetting those things which are behind, we would zero in on that to which we have been called.
"AND REACHING FORTH UNTO THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE BEFORE..." Here again the writer picks up another Greek athletic term which describes the runner whose "eye outstrips and draws onward the hand, and the hand the foot." He has fastened his eye on the goal, for his eye sees much farther than his hand, and thus pulls his hand to reach out yet a little farther, which in turn draws his foot onward step after step.
"The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single..." we read in Luke 11:34. The eye, symbolic of the spirit, must be single, must be firmly fixed upon our Lord. When our spirit is ONE IN HIM it will pull the rest of our being right on with it, until we are swallowed up into His reality. May God so quicken to our spirit that which lies before, that our spirit within literally propels and compels us to stretch onward, so that we are no more conscious of the things behind, but we are fully focused upon that which is before us.
Reaching forth-- from the Greek word "epekteino." Epi, upon; ek, from, or out of; teino, to stretch; thus combined, it means: to stretch oneself forward upon.
An illustration from the negative. Isaiah 28:20, "For the bed is shorter than a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it." That's where the majority of our Esau brethren dwell. They have a bed, a realm where they are going to rest, and so they lay themselves down, and there is no going on. You cannot stretch in their bed! If you do, your foot goes right on past the end-- past the borders of their belief. You would find yourself walking right on out and past their place. That's why He says, "Come out from among them," for you have to come out, there is no room to stretch for more while inside their realm.
There are so many these days who are stunted in their spiritual growth because they are confined with creeds and doctrines which do not allow them to REACH FORTH, to stretch out after those things which are before. They are told to lie down and be at rest in that cradle. Then they reach for some truth to cover themselves with, and find that the covers are way too narrow. Such are the restrictions of those who are in bondage to the many religious systems of our day. 0, may God lead us out and onward, so that we might give heed to that HIGH CALLING, and stretch ourselves to reach forth unto Him.
Psalm 44:20-21, "If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; shall not God search this out? for He knoweth the secrets of the heart," Many .are becoming dissatisfied with their short bed and no room to stretch, and they are leaving those realms, but we find they are stretching out their hand to STRANGE GODS. They reach for the teachings of the so-called ascended masters of the east.
The cults and the fancies of the carnal mind. They follow this man, or that man, with all his various programs and kingdom building schemes. We need not illustrate what all the strange gods symbolize, but this much we know, full well our God also knows all about these perversions, and in due time will send His judgments to correct, to bring to nought the ways of man, that He alone shall be GOD.
So on with the positive, "I STRETCH FORTH MY HANDS UNTO THEE: my soul thirsteth after Thee, as in a thirsty land. -- Cause me to hear Thy loving kindness in the morning: for in Thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto Thee." [Psalm 143:6,8].
There are no words to rightly express this inward desire, how that "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God." [Psalm 42:1]. Nothing, apart from Him, satisfies. So we lift up our soul unto Him, we stretch forth our hands unto Him. "Reaching forth unto those things which are before."
"I PRESS TOWARD the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." [Philippians 3:14]. Literally, "I AM BEARING DOWN UPON" in the direction of the goal. This is more than the thought of something "way out there," and I am just reaching toward it. Paul realizes there was this actual bearing down upon the goal, it was steadily drawing nearer, the expectation of it was increasing, and the reality is in view. IT IS OBTAINABLE!
Contrast this tremendous hope and vision of our high calling unto divine reality, with a statement from the writings of Omar Khayyam, who said, "The stars are setting and the caravan starts for the dawn of nothing." What a pitiful, empty view before him. No hope, no inner assurance of life and victory-- only that the lights go out, everything is now headed into nothing. Such is the hope of the world without Christ!
But Paul knew that he was bearing down upon the goal, with glories so vast and magnificent, they are INCOMPARABLE. Man, groping to understand the laws of God's operation, always tried to relate one thing to another, the old into the new, the known into the unknown. If you bring a new product on the market, people will ask, "What is it like?" And they try to describe it with comparisons of things close to it, using all of the knowns to describe the new. It tastes like, it feels like, it looks like-- and using all the known "something like it," they try to tell you about the new thing.
But IN GOD is a realm beyond all comparisons, it is unspeakable, it is unsearchable, it is "past finding out." [Romans 11:33]. Totally untraceable, unchartable, ever new. Man will never be able to reduce God's glory to the charts and figures, descriptions and markings which identify it with things earthy. "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."[1 Corinthians 15:48-49]. But you cannot use the earthy to describe the heavenly. So vastly different, how we stretch to reach out and grasp those things which are ABOVE.
Ephesians 3:8 speaks of the "unsearchable riches of Christ." There is no way that you can follow all the ways of man, with his twists and turns, and ever arrive into those riches. Only the Christ can bring us into His riches. Indeed, it is written of the strange woman, symbol of the harlot religious Babylon, "Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know." [Proverbs 5:6].
No wonder it is imperative that we forsake that realm of confusion, and fix our gaze FIRMLY UPON HIM, for He is "The Way, The Truth, and The Life." [John 14:6]. And He alone knows the way into these unsearchable riches. "Blessed-- happy, fortunate ( to be envied) -- is the man whose strength is in You; in whose heart are the highways to Zion. -- They go from strength to strength, increasing in victorious power; each of them appears before God in Zion." [Psalm 84:5, 7, Amplified].
Man wants to map out the highway outwardly with works, ceremonies, and rituals, so that the flesh might glory in it, while they do -- do -- do. Flesh always wants to be occupied in the doing outwardly. But God is PLACING HIS HIGHWAY INSIDE, and it results in a state of BEING. It becomes God's work in us, not our work for Him. This is the progression from the old covenant into the NEW COVENANT for those who are stretching forth unto Zion.
The visible does not dare deserve to be compared with the invisible, the span is too great to be bridged with our law of relationships. Flesh, and spirit; time, and eternity; suffering, and glory; corruptible, and the incorruptible; mortal, and immortality. One cannot be compared over against the other, for there is no point of reference, they have nothing in common with each other.
"To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto Him?" [Isaiah 40:18].
"To whom will ye liken Me, and make Me equal, and compare Me that we may be like?" [Isaiah 46:5].
We cannot compare, nor tell you what He is like, but we can say what He is not, for "GOD IS NOT A MAN." [Numbers 23:19]. And it is foolishness to try and change "the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things." [Romans 1:23].
Truly, He is incomparable, and "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and TO WHOMSOEVER THE SON WILL REVEAL HIM." [Matthew 11:27]. No man can choose how, or when the revelation comes to him, but that revelation shall come, "The revelation of Jesus Christ." [Revelation 1:1]. Yes, even though it includes every vial, every woe, every trumpet, etc. of which the Book speaks. And so marvelous will be HIS REVELATION, in spite of all the woes, John prayed, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." We would daily reach out for His divine reality!
To reach, to stretch, to gain the prize.
What glory waits my wond'ring eyes.
I scarce begin to comprehend
The Spirit-life that shall transcend.
So long I've waited in the bed
Of man's religion, long so dead.
And tried to cover with their wrap,
Cling to a hope with meager strap.
So cramped and stifled with their creed,
No help to give to those that bleed.
And when I tried to stretch beyond,
They fain would forge a tighter bond.
Until the day He brought release,
Became for me the Way of peace.
And set before me that true goal,
And placed His fire in my soul.
The suff'ring of this present time,
The valley deep, the mountain climb,
Cannot compare to that before --
The grace that shall all things restore.
The time, the place, are fully His.
The revelation surely is
Now coming through that He alone
Draws ev'ry man unto His throne.
He draws, I stretch, a reaching forth
To Zion's hill, sides of the north.
To glories incomparable!
My Lord, my God, so wonderful!