Sometimes life as a Christ-follower is hard. In my own personal life, I’ve faced many uphill battles. It’s rather funny, though, because it’s usually during those times that we feel our walk with God strengthen and become much deeper. I like how Pastor Mark describes life in reference to 4 stages.
Stage 1: The time of being a pre-believer. This is a time of searching, for what exactly, we may not even be sure.
Stage 2: The time when we first come to know Christ. This is kind of like the honeymoon period in our faith. During this time, it seems that we hear God’s voice so clearly. We are filled with a passion greater than we’ve ever known. We love more. We run after God harder. We find our lives finally have meaning.
Stage 3: This is the time when it may seem that our faith is tested. We may struggle, and at times, feel like God is so far away. It is in this stage that we have to choose our faith. It’s during this phase that we have to sometimes fight to remember that God is only good. It’s during this phase that, if we aren’t rooted in the Word of God, we will be demolished spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
Stage 4: This is the stage where after our faith has been put to the test, we come out on the other side with a new resolve…a new understanding that He really is Who He says He is. It is here that our faith stands unshakable. We’ve learned to trust in Almighty God with all of our hearts, and we find peace.
Like many of you who read this blog, I’ve been in Stage 3 for some time now. It has been a stage of complete and utter dependence on God. Everyday, I feel that I’m learning to trust Him more. Trust in something I can’t see doesn’t some easy to me. It probably doesn’t come easy to many people. For most of my life, I’ve had to depend on myself. Success or failure depended solely on whether or not I performed well or did my job well. That’s probably why grace sometimes doesn’t make a bit of sense to me. This phase has brought me to a place of complete brokenness. But I think that’s exactly where God wants us to be. You see, sometimes God has to break down all of our pride, self-reliance, selfishness, and all of the things we once held true, in order to show us the Truth. It’s only in brokenness that we give God permission to mess up what we think is our beautiful life. And then He shows us what true beauty is.
There are times in all of our lives where God seems a million miles away. For whatever reason, God keeps us from feeling Him or hearing from Him, even when we’re doing all the right things. I believe He does this to ultimately teach us blind faith. So during my own time of searching, brokenness, longing, dependence, etc, Christ speaks something to me over and over, and I thought it was time to share this with you: Keep your eyes and your gaze on the cross. The cross reveals so much to us about the very nature and love of Christ, but how quickly we forget the price paid for our debt. We forget that no one forced Christ onto the cross. He did it willingly out of His deep and profound love for us. At any moment during the life of Jesus, He could have told His Father that He didn’t want to do it. He could have commanded angels to rescue Him and destroy those who persecuted Him. But He didn’t. So during times of spiritual drought, think on the cross and realize that if Christ was going to forsake you, He would’ve and could’ve done it on the cross. But He didn’t. Before Jesus left to be crucified, as He was praying in the garden, He cried tears of blood for you. He still feels the same about you. He did and does everything in order that we know His love and faithfulness. Rest in that.
I love what Joshua 1:5-9 says:
No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Perhaps the reason we are so quick to forget that God is always with us and that He will never forsake us is because we are so easily distracted by the things of the world, and we fail to abide in His Word. His faithfulness is revealed throughout the Word, so devour it, memorize it, love it, and remember it when times get tough.