As with everyone, I have faced ups and downs in both personal and professional aspects of life. I’ve learned that all I have when a crisis has ended is ‘my conduct’ during it. Crisis reveals my true character. My failures have provided an exposure of me to me, and occasionally others. Crisis, whether failure or some other intense situation, reveals character, or lack of. Crisis does not necessarily make or break, but it surely does ‘reveal’ us to ourselves. Crisis survived builds character (James 1:2-4).

Failure comes in many forms, shapes, and sizes – can range from personal to professional, small to large, intimate to very public; but in any case we all have failures. The words here address the hard truth that some failure ‘reveals’ truth if we’re open to receive it. Humility can receive, pride always rejects.

For me, far more has been learned in failure than success. Why? Because, as a human, I am capable of having a wrong perspective, often selfish and self-serving, and limited to my view only. In the early immature years of self-analysis, I would automatically assume ‘my view’ to be right, and, in many cases I was as wrong as a ‘duck with lips.’ I could see through my eyes only.

In more mature times, I am learning to see through the eyes of others. In any case, failure and conflict are opportunities to self-examine, asking and answering hard questions of yourself. If TRUTH is a real objective, God has a way of helping us find it, even when it hurts terribly bad! He has a way of revealing us to ourselves. HE HAS A WAY of causing us to forgive ourselves and others – no human has that capability! What an event the Cross was!

The one thing I seek, even dating back into childhood, is truth. I want truth yet in the past, had no clue what I really sought. JESUS, who is the ultimate truth, was knocking on my door but I wasn’t interested! Later I learned, THERE IS NO REAL LIFE WITHOUT TRUTH. AND THE TRUTH IS THAT ONLY DEATH COMES WITH WHAT IS OBTAINED BY A LIE!

However you OBTAIN something is how you must MAINTAIN that same thing. Test that statement!

There is no ‘real life’ without truth ruling our lives. Truth buried is a substitute for real life! Our greatest source of real life comes in the areas where real truth is accepted and embraced – nobody can fake truth! Where there is real life there is an abundance of truth guiding.

Interestingly, I am finding Jesus in much more than I ever knew in my early days as a Christian. I am finding that setbacks are often prerequisites for setups – a necessary repositioning of attitude or physical structure necessary for a larger component of events than what existed in the previous structure. This is called “the process” of finding His Kingdom Order.

The following statement is true in both the natural and spiritual world – its truth resonates in the natural (knowledge) and supernatural (revelation): That truth is ANYTHING GROWING WILL CHANGE. This is true whether it is revelation of Christs’ love, whether a growing pubescent teenager, whether an emerging technology, whether a major corporation or business, whether an individual on a new journey of faith, communities, relationships, marriages, etc., ALL GROWTH REQUIRES CHANGE. Where there is no growth there is death.

STAGNANCY INITIATES DEATH. You cannot grow if you will not change! Where I’m stuck is where I’m stagnant (resisting change).

Engrafting and pruning are signs of growth as they reflect change. Engrafting is the natural phenomenon of addition that comes about as a result of “seeking first the Kingdom, and seeing ALL THINGS ADDED” (Matthew 6:33). Pruning is often a natural and necessary phenomenon in which the least productive parts are cut away, such that the remaining lifeblood can be supplied to the parts that are productive. Painful pruning occurs just before great growth occurs.

The setbacks of conflict and failure can be, and often are, prerequisites for growth. This almost foreign concept could get me stoned around a group of intellectuals (and I’m talking “Stephen stoned, not Colorado stoned here.”)

Arthur Burt, a wise man and my spiritual mentor (who died at 102 years of age) stated, “God allows in His wisdom what He could have prevented in His power.” This statement impacted me – Arthur’s words prepared me for the fact that hardships and difficulties were used to set me into growth patterns. The knowledge that these difficulties were NOT designed for my defeat, but rather my strengthening has been a measure of TRUTH that produced life where there easily could have been death.

“And we know that in All things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Further, Arthur taught that the front end of any offense is revelation for us about us – when we are offended our pride is exposed. Humility produces life, while pride always pulls us down. Age, success, talent, nor money entitles or exempts us from truth.

Your trials, your setbacks, your challenges have specific purpose. Seeking truth in these situations in everyday life is life changing – From it spring wells of living water; water that nourishes, cleanses, and satisfies like no other. It is this type TRUTH that I pray I always seek until the day I leave this earth.

Clay Sikes

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