10 December, 2012

Abiding and Balance

It is amazing how our mindset changes our perspective in life... even in our Christian life. There are some people view the Christian life as a life of ease or a bed of roses, while others see it as an ongoing  battle filled with drudgery that we must endure until death or the rapture. The first group says, 'If I have enough faith, I'll never be sick, never be broke or have problems in this life.' The second group says, 'I'm called of God to struggle and must persevere, so I will have more troubles than Job.'  If you've been around me much at all, you know that one of my favorite words is "balance."  I believe that there is a balance in this life, especially in our Christian walk. I don't mean compromise... I mean balance.
The way I see is that the Bible tells us that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. Troubles come... as do the good times, for the Christian as well as the non-Christian. I'm absolutely convinced that God wants to bless his people... but I'm also convinced that most of us have a misunderstanding of what being blessed is.  I stood in the door way of the Garrett family Christmas party a couple of days ago and I saw a room filled with people ranging from 2 years old to those in their 70's, and I thought to myself, "this family has been blessed." Blessings are not all about material wealth. The love in that room was worth far more than money can buy.

Back on topic... I've come to learn that a person's level of faith is often revealed in the times if difficulty and pain.  I've walked it out and I can tell you that when your back is to the wall financially... it takes faith to believe that God is "Jehovah Jireh", the Lord who provides.  It's in times that you or a loved one is facing illness  that you exercise your faith to believe He really is Jehovah Rapha, the God who promises to heal. In John 15:5 Jesus said, 'He who abides in Me...bears much fruit.'  There is a subtle but absolutely key reference made here that will determie your faith. Notice that is says that the blessing (fruit) comes from 'abiding' and staying close to the Lord. Those who get excited about fruit before they've learned to sow seed leads to people who find themselves serving God for what He does, rather than who He to you. There is no relationship.  Abide means "to stay in, or dwell in." You may come and visit my family in our house, even be our guest for a few days, but that is not the same as living here. When you abide, there are privileges and responsibilities that come along with living there. My family all abide in the house on Broad street. We all have keys to the house. Keys represent privilege that is granted only to our family. But along with those keys come responsibility.  The problem is, many folks refuse the responsibility that comes with being a child of God, so they don't abide with God... they visit. They come and go, but never take up residence with God. They want to be there for the benefits, but they don't walk with God in the times of trial. Rather, they blame God when those times come.  I've learned that those times of difficulty and trial are often times of pruning in my life. And I've learned that while pruning often hurts, it is for my benefit, and that I will come out stronger and with more and better fruit when it is finished. It's all a part of the "abiding" thing.

Yes, the Christian life is at times a battlefield. When you are in the battle, it does not mean God has forsaken you or that he is trying to hurt you. I've come to realize that the level of attack is determined by the size of your God-given assignment and the rewards that await you on the other side of that battle. It's all about finding that balance and knowing that I'm not going to be in this battle or this trial forever... it's just part of the process. God is faithful... the question is, "Are we?"

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