A Tale of Three Kings, by Gene Edwards, subtitled “A lesson in brokenness,” floored me the first time I read it. Gene, in his typical story-telling fashion, tells about David when he was anointed king. When Samuel anoints him David is confused and wonders to himself, “Why me? There must be some mistake.” But Samuel’s words were unmistakable. He was anointing him to be king over Israel!
Now, note this, even though David was chosen and anointed for the position, he didn’t sit on the throne for ten long years―ten years that were absolute hell. David endured a decade of being hounded by Saul’s army, running from a mad king who wanted him dead, hiding in caves, hiding among Israel’s enemies, feigning insanity and narrowly escaping death again and again. Then after this vivid description, Gene points out that God allowed David to endure this brutal trial because “God wanted something that He had very few of—broken servants.” 
I’ll never forget the impact that book had on me when I first read it. My heart just melted as I began weeping. Then God spoke gently to my soul and said, “I don’t want vessels to merely contain the things of my Spirit. I want broken vessels so that these things can pour out of them and into the lives of others.” I began to bare my heart before God and ask Him to make me a broken vessel that can pour out on those around me. That was more than twenty years ago. In many ways these have been some of the most difficult years of my life. I’ve wept many more tears since and have had more than my share of heartache.
Yet, out of the fire and pain over the years, God has birthed in me some of the most powerful truths ever to be deposited into my spirit. In addition, I have had some of the most awesome opportunities to serve God and touch the lives of others.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)
No pain―no gain. Know pain―know gain!
All those years ago I was in a go-no-where job. Although I knew that God had called me to preach and teach His WORD, I had only a trickle of opportunities and no real prospects for the future. Then I became the Chaplain for J103 Radio here in Chattanooga, TN. I began reaching out to literally thousands every day with my Chaplain’s Corner devotions on the radio. In addition, I have a worldwide ministry at http://www.soaringwings.us, an Internet Radio Station, a YouTube Page where I post teaching videos and my book entitled The Wrong Shirt [http://www.gea-books.com/books/wrong_skirt.htm] has been published. What gained from the pain is immeasurable and I wouldn’t take back that prayer for anything.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)
“Why has it taken you so long?”, you may ask? Actually, it took a lot longer―nearly 40 years to bring me to where I am today. The answer to your question lies in this one statement, “Salvation is free but authority is not free.” James said it simply, “Pass the test and you’ll get the crown.” In scripture, a crown metaphorically represents authority. And authority carries a huge price tag with it. God desires us to be all we can be in Him. He wants us to walk in power and authority, but authority has to pay a price. We have to pay our dues.
I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. (Luke 10:19)
Salvation is received, while authority is entrusted. To have a crown of life is to have authority over life. It’s authority to advance the Kingdom of God by preaching the gospel, healing the sick and pulling down spiritual strongholds. But frankly, many in the Church today walk with no spiritual authority. They have not “stood the test.” Therefore, they drift about like a leaf caught in the wind. They have no authority over life. In fact, life has authority over them. But, my friend, it doesn’t have to be that way. God has a crown of life reserved for you. It’s yours if, like King David, you’re willing to pay the price.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
It’s amazing how many Christians have no grasp of this truth. I was clueless about it for most of my Christian walk. Moreover, it saddens God’s heart when He sees His people cave in at the first sign of difficulty rather than pressing on in faith and yielding to the process. Over the years I’ve come to this conclusion; The worst thing to ever befall a believer is to go through life, die, and then go home to be with the Lord, having never known God’s best in their life—having never experienced the greatness in the Kingdom of God that He has called them to know.
For if, by the trespass of the one man (Adam), death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)
“God, break me!” That’s a loaded prayer, my friend, but necessary if we want to have authority with Christ in this life. It’s an often painful but glorious journey, but it must be taken just the same. First the cross―then the crown.
We all get discouraged when the pressures of life start
weighing us down.
We’ve learned that in His footsteps,
crosses in life must precede the crowns.
There is One who
goes before you to calm the sea.
There is One who leads
His people to victory. We are
destined to win,
we’re surrounded by His love
and guarded by his power.
Destined to win,
following the Lord
until the battle’s over.
We are destined to win 
Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards, © 1992 Tyndale House Publishers
 Destined to Win, by DeGarmo and Keyfrom their album, Greatest Hits, Volume 1 © 1995 Sparrow Records