So often it seems that when I begin to follow more closely to the Lord, something happens to stop me. I’ve grown almost superstitious about this, and dangerously close to playing into the devil’s hand through a mindset that would say, “Why try to be more Godly; it just paints a big target on my head for the devil.”
For example, I’ve just completed a 60 day program that emphasizes Christian discipline. About ten days into this endeavor, I ran a thorn into my hand which instantly became infected, requiring antibiotics. A few days after this I got a toothache and had to get a root canal! My efforts at walking according to the Spirit and not the flesh were effectively derailed, although I did struggle to my feet again and finally completed the program—taking about 70 days to complete the 60 day plan! Ignoring the fact that the antibiotics may have protected me from a terrible toothache and subsequent infection during the root canal procedure (hmm, maybe God really was in control?!), I felt frustrated with the Lord.
I was writing all of the above in my prayer journal when I heard the Lord say,
“He can’t keep it up.”
I understood this to mean that the devil can’t keep up an effort to derail us from following hard after the Lord, and so we shouldn’t quit at the first sign of opposition. Picture a runner pounding along a clearly marked path. A vindictive opponent picks up a rock and throws it at the runner, whacking him hard on the shin. The runner stops, hops around saying, “OUCH” for a few seconds, but almost instantly begins running again because he is so intent upon winning the prize. He is quickly out of reach of the disgruntled rock thrower. But what if the runner, fearing more pain, had just sat down on the path? The first thing that would have happened is that he would have remained within easy range of his opponent, who almost certainly could find another rock to toss at a stationary target.
Furthermore, opposition makes us stronger. A muscle doesn’t grow unless there is resistance; we must lift weights in order to become strong physically. In our spiritual journeys the Lord allows some obstacles along the path in order to strengthen our faith.
We have to keep our eyes on the finish line, where our Savior awaits. But remember, He also is with us on the path.
Scripture: “...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God...” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
The Lord sat down, but not until He had reached His goal. Lord, grant me grace to follow your example and not to be too easily discouraged from running hard after You!
The 60 day program I followed was The Lord's Table, a Christian weight loss program that is a part of the Setting Captives Free Ministry. Founder Mike Cleveland has a program for about anything that ails you (or sin that besets you) from alcoholism to pornography addiction to overweight. These are Spirit filled, Christ-centered programs that rely on peer volunteers to shepherd fellow sojourners to freedom from habitual sin. Check out this ministry at settingcaptivesfree.com.