February 23, 2008

Walking with Jesus

As I read God is Enough, I sometimes wonder what planet the author came from. She makes it sound so easy, as if trusting God will solve all problems and make life perfectly blessed. Did she not know about Job, whose trust was perfect but deeply tested? Did she not read that being like Jesus may mean we will go through some of the same trials He experienced? Did she not read Hebrews 11 with its descriptions of those who were martyred because of their faith? How about 2 Timothy 3:12 which says, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution”?

If the goal of being a godly person promises trials, what about the journey to get there? I am reading the beginning of Deuteronomy where Moses reviews all that has happened to God’s people since they left Egypt and began their journey to the promised land. When they arrived, Moses sent out men to check out this new land. They came back with a good report, except the “giants” in the land terrified them and they refused to take possession of their land. God was angry with them and made them wander forty years in the wilderness until that generation died.

I can relate to their struggle. What Christian has not encountered fearful “giants” and did some wandering before dying to those self-centered fears and coming alive with a greater capacity to trust God?

Someone suggested to me that being a Christian should get easier as one gets older. In some ways it does. I know God more deeply, which I suppose means that I am farther up the mountain. I can see more of what is going on and have a history of God’s faithfulness to remember. But there are also greater dangers in lofty places. Satan still roams there, and no one, not Job, not even Jesus, is immune to his attacks. While we know he was defeated at the cross, he is still telling lies and destroying people. I find that his methods of trying to trip, sideswipe, distract, etc., become more subtle and more intense as time goes by.

Certainly there are days without spiritual war, days of great peace and joy, days of intimacy with the Lord that delight my soul beyond description, but there are also days of fierce attack, deep burdens, and even times of feeling that God has gone silent. I could never promise anyone that if they became a Christian their problems would be over.

Today’s reading says, “You have trusted Him in a few things, and He has not failed you. Trust Him now for everything and see if He does not do for you exceeding abundantly, above all that you could ever have asked or even thought, not according to your power or capacity, but according to His own mighty power, working in you all the good pleasure of His most blessed will.” This is true, based on Ephesians 3:20, but not a complete description of the Christian experience.

She adds that if I can trust the management of the universe to God, my case should not be a problem. I agree that this is true also. However, she adds, “Take your stand on the power and trustworthiness of your God and see how quickly all difficulties will vanish before a steadfast determination to believe.”

Believing in God does not erase difficulties. If that were true, not one person would stick with Him as the tests and challenges come. Instead, every professing Christian would declare faith a folly, and think that God is a liar (had He promised such a thing).

It is true that walking with Him is sometimes a stroll in the park, but it is also a leaning into the storm, a fierce battle uphill, through an unmarked path where beasts yowl, and the light is dim. In those dark and difficult times, Jesus still says, “I will never leave you or forsake you” and faithfully holds my hand—yet pressed so close to His scars, my fingers also begin to bleed.

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