Half-finished sentences appear to be a recurring theme lately. And half-completed plans… lots of half-completed plans and half-explored paths which have all the attributes of a dead-end or a nasty drop.
Sometimes it feels like such a waste to give them up. Why not continue on and damn all the consequences? At least something would be finished. I would finish it. I would control my end.
But that’s not right. That’s not the life of a Christian. That’s not the life Jesus lived… or the type of death that He died.
It was all part of a bigger plan than any human inspiration could conjure up. He did not raise a political revolution and have himself killed because He killed another. He did not pander to the authorities of the day and become a flatterer so that He could be flattered in return. He did not rob the rich to give to the poor. He did not heal for a price.
What did He do?
Just when the crowd decided He was something special and wanted to crown Him, He hurried away. Just when they realised the radicalness of His claims and felt the full weight of their guilt and sought to throw Him off a cliff, He slipped through their fingers. The appointed time had not yet come.
Many times it is kind of like that for His followers. We are led by His Spirit to the very brink of temptation, but not over it. If we take one false step, if we stray but slightly out of the way, we will either lose heart and run for the cover of the hills or fall over the precipice. If we die to ourselves and trust Him, He will show us a way of escape and victory.
Some things are to be the death of us… but not all. Some things are to become our life’s breath… but not just any thing.
Some times and places are to be our rest… but not all times and places are equal. Some seasons and fields are to be our battlegrounds… but not all of them.
Not all things are to be pursued to their end.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23
But what things should we pursue?
When there is a fork in the road, when I find myself having to choose which of many swords to fall upon, when my eyesight is dim, and when confusion and the fear of missing out shrouds my head like the very hood of execution, all I can seem to think is, “Why me?” and “Where is the wisdom I need to choose the right path?”
I am frozen, indecisive – like Lot’s wife. I want to obey God, but my natural mind uses natural wisdom to weigh up the pros and cons, hoping that God will pipe up with supernatural wisdom and say, “Yes, this option has the best pros; choose that one.”
But from reading James 3:13- 18, I’ve found out that while ever my mind is occupied with fleshly costs and balances, while ever I’m worried about missing out on things, real supernatural wisdom from above cannot come.
Here’s what it says:
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
All too often, Envy and Self-Seeking (or Selfish Ambition) wear the mask of Fear of Missing Out. And that’s why confusion is always there!
I recently heard it said that based on what the above passage in James states, wisdom is more about character than just knowing what to do. So instead of drawing a comparison between making decisions and choosing what sword to fall on, I must remember these words from Galatians 2:20,
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Whatever path I am meant to follow should be an extension of that inner crucifixion… including this path of waiting on God, trusting Him, and learning about true wisdom.
I may not know which path I will choose next, but thank God I have clearer picture of what sort of attitude I should have when I do choose it!
Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, through the Living Word, the Hood of Execution – of futile thoughts leading to eternal destruction – has been replaced by the Helmet of Salvation.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:1 & 2
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.'” – 1 Peter 1:13-16
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—” – Ephesians 6:10-18