I’ve already written a post on when God is silent, so I won’t go over those points again. I want to kind of return to that theme though, if you will.
These past several weeks have been extremely hard for me. I have been an emotional wreck over many different aspects of my life right now, but one of the things that has really bothered me is the status of my relationship with God. I have really felt void of any growth or response in that area lately. I have battled against zero motivation to read the Bible and spend time in prayer, as well as having nothing to write about. I’ve lost the experiential part of the Christian walk, which is hard for me as I have the unhealthy tendency to lean very heavily on my feelings. However, being in this low point has brought me face-to-face with a hard reality that I know in my head, but haven’t completely embraced in my heart.
The Christian’s walk, the Christian’s race, is not a bed of roses.
Surprised? That’s something that we’ve all heard before. Did I really expect it to be easy? No. But was I prepared to face the struggles and hard times that a Christian will face? No. That being said, I’m still young and haven’t exactly had a life crisis or anything that totally wreaks havoc on my faith, nothing like that. But for where I’m at in my walk with Christ at this point, I am going through a hard time.
How am I supposed to be prepared for those hard spots in my walk? Three things come to mind.
Firstly, I need to make sure that I am doing what I can to grow closer to the Lord with each passing day. That means continually spending time in prayer, reading and studying His word, worshiping Him throughout the day, serving Him daily, etc. I need to make sure that I’m not lagging on my part in having a thriving, growing relationship with the Lord. How do I expect Him to be there if I’m not making an effort to be with Him?
Secondly, I need to rely on knowledge and belief, and not feelings. Again, this is something that’s really hard for me to do, but if I consistently go by how I feel, what does that mean about my faith? Is my faith founded by feelings, or is it founded by truth and belief? If I know in my head and heart truths, it will be easier to undergo trials and hardships, as trials and hardships induce lots of unreliable feelings.
Third, I need to have someone to hold me accountable. For me, this is an area that I struggle with greatly (do I have a spot where I don’t struggle??). I need to have someone to gently but firmly remind me that I am relying on my feelings rather than belief, to remind me to read and study God’s Word, etc. I know about myself that if I don’t have someone to hold me accountable to something, then I will slide on by without giving it a second thought.
I want to review Hebrews 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who faced such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Running the race that Christ has marked out for us takes endurance, and perseverance. It’s not something that you can finish in a day. It will take you your entire life, until the very day you die. None of us have the zeal to make it a lifetime without tiring or losing patience at some point. Zeal helps us to start the race at a steady speed, but endurance is what will keep us fueled and going strong. Without endurance, running this race is going to be extremely difficult.
We are not alone, however, in running this race. We are “surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses”. We have built-in accountability partners! We don’t have to do this by ourselves! That should be an encouragement. And not only are we not alone, but we have something to look forward to, to fix our eyes on – the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Is that not encouraging as well?
Another point often ignored is that of self-discipline. Running this race requires this discipline. How could you run a race and complete it without any discipline?
1 Corinthians 9:24-27: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
To tie this back to the first part of my post, I am struggling to run this race. It is not a very easy part to run right now. I need endurance, perseverance, self-discipline, accountability, to rely on belief rather than feeling, and to grow closer to my Lord. Apart from Him, I can do nothing.