Monday, May 23, 2011

Lord We're Prone to Wander

The Christians (true believers) in the Body of Christ, the church, represent a vast collection of levels of spiritual maturity. Some are fairly mature while others are depressingly children in the faith. But when our Great High Priest cares for them by interceding for them before the Father, He does not show favorites and treats His elect, the immature and the mature, on an equal basis. The most immature Christian is as precious to Him as is the greatest man or woman of God.

Young Christians are so prone to be all over the place doctrinally and not know the basics of the faith or how to trust God. Much like human toddlers, they are constantly falling down and getting bloodied noses, scraped knees, and eating what they shouldn't be eating. They need tender care with firm but gentle leading and correction. Christ, the Great Shepherd, protects the weak in faith to guide them to some semblance of spiritual maturity.

No matter our level of spiritual maturity when we are waning, on the verge of shipwreck, God comes swiftly with just the right spiritual food to satisfy our hungry souls. When our hearts are ready to break from the stress of life, God comforts fully and leaves nothing to our sinful selves. He knows how to strengthen us, and He does so. We are never left abandoned.

I think of His effective graciousness in bringing me to faith and trust in His Son and how many are the times I have strayed. Yet, lovingly, and not always gently, He worked providentially to bring me back into His fellowship. He loves those whom He disciplines.

Why do we stray? Why do we, no matter our level of spiritual maturity in Christ, seem to lose steam at times in our Walk with God? Why does our fellowship with the Divine sometimes suffer? In a word: tribulations.

I have been writing about the necessity of trials and tribulations in believers’ lives as THE means to stretch us and make our faith grow. James 1:3,4 is a famous example that a lot of Christians memorize and quote to themselves in the midst of the storms for comfort and grace.

knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

But, is it not interesting how no matter how long you have been in the faith, no matter how long you have been walking, hopefully, by faith in God and the promises of His Word, that He knows just how to jar you to your soul with a tribulation designed especially for you? And, invariably we are brought so close to the precipice that we end up asking, “Why are you doing this to me, Oh God?” I've asked, “Why?”

In January 2003, my mother suddenly died. She had been sick but told none of us, her children. Less than five months later, my grandnephew lived but a few hours after birth. Two months later, my younger brother was murdered. (We had just moved out of the country and could not get to the funeral.) Nine months later, my best friend, the guy with whom I grew up, who was the best man in my wedding, and whom I had known since we were fourteen years old, died of cancer. To say I felt devastated would be putting it mildly. I asked, “Why?”

To prevent a wandering from my Lord, here is what I did and I suggest the same for you:

  1. Look to God and His holiness. Concentrate on the verses that tell us that He is not only Holy, but also that without the holiness of God, no man shall stand in His sight (1 Peter 1:16; Heb. 12:14).
  2. Look at your union with Christ in His death, burial, resurrection (Romans 6:1-14), and realize that the same God who brought the terrible trials into your life is the same God who graciously, in His mercy, brought you to union in Christ and imputed to you the Righteousness of Christ without which no man shall see God (Heb. 12:14; 2 Cor. 5:21).
  3. Look at the fact of Scripture that it is in the fires of tribulation that what is left of your dependence on your sinful flesh is purged from your body (Dan. 9,24; Psalms 66:10-12).
  4. Look at your identification in Christ and know that in addition to what is mentioned in point #2, we have been co-ascended with Christ (see Colossians 3:1-4) and co-seated with Him in the heavenly places. He, in whom we are united, co-ascended and co-seated, has all principalities, power, and dominion; yes, even all things beneath His feet (Eph. 1: 20-23). The demonic powers that seek to shipwreck your faith are in submission to Him in whom we live and He in us (Gal. 2:20). HE HAS ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET!

Those of us prone to wander He is faithful to bring us back to His fold.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

1 Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing; 18th century pastor and hymnist Robert Robinson