Jesus has changed my life. Period. I used to be driven by fear and doubt and bitterness and frustration and depression and moods. I used to be driven by performance and tasks and agendas and approval seeking. But by the power of the Holy Spirit, I’m learning how to choose to be driven by the Word of God instead.
I want everyone – believer and unbeliever alike – to hear this: transformation into a more Christ-like way of thinking isn’t some mystical power that washes over me as I sit around and wait to think differently. It’s proactive. It’s a choice. It’s praying the truth to get rid of the lies that are more prominently playing in my mind at that time. It’s asking for the Lord to make known to me the lies that are directly in opposition to his Word in my mind at that time so that I can confess them and claim the truth over them. And when I choose to do this rather than focusing on the what’s wrong – the temptations and sorrows and evil around me – I begin to have peace and see Jesus.
I used to take a barre class on a regular basis here in Grimes. The instructor would frequently remind us as we attempted to hold our balance in a difficult pose that we would only be able to stand firm if we fixed our eyes on one point on the wall. Isn’t this the perfect picture of the Christian life? As we fix our eyes on Christ, all else comes into focus. But when we waiver, we lose balance. We stumble.
Thankfully, the Scriptures have something to say about stumbling that should encourage us as well. Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT) states that
23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.
And THIS is where we can find true freedom in Christ. Terrible things are going to happen in this life. Things that devastate me and you – I’ve cried many tears over the sorrows of this world that have affected me, my family, my friends, and complete strangers – like those who lost their lives in Orlando recently. And because I’m human too, it takes time for me to overcome the sorrows that I face – so it will likely take time for all those affected in these recent horrors. But the difference in following Christ is that we stumble, but we do not fall as we choose to fix our gaze on Jesus rather than our sorrow. “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
It’s great for us to truly heart and mind know these truths, but that is not where it is allowed to stop. Remember that Acts 1 states that we must be witnesses to Christ. We know the truth. Death is not the end. These sorrows of this world devastate the Lord absolutely, and he sent his very son so that we don’t have to let death be the end of all. There will be a time when “he will wipe away every tear from their [our] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). We have hope for the future beyond the hardships of this world. In John 8:31-32, “Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'”
Christ-followers, we must learn to claim the truth of God’s inerrant Word in our lives on a daily basis. It doesn’t mean that all days will be happy – in fact, many of them may carry deep sadness, but it does mean that our days can be hopeful. It means that we can walk around joyfully. It means that we recognize that hardship is imminent, so we can train ourselves to fight for this joy in Christ daily, hourly, by minute, even by seconds at times. And when we do, we can have unexplainable joy. So why, why in the WORLD would we NOT want to share this gift with others?
This is where I find myself right now. This is the place that I think we need to be, Christian – fixing our gaze on Christ and sharing with others the miraculous work He has brought about in our lives. In Revelation 12, we see a description of Satan thrown out of heaven and onto the earth. In his fury, and knowing his defeat, Scripture says that he “[came] down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short” (Rev. 12: 12). But the prior verse states the prophetic words that the offspring of Adam and Eve who obey the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus have “conquered him [Satan] by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.” This is how we overcome.
But we can’t share what we haven’t experienced. We can’t share the joy of daily freedom or the bliss of watching the Lord overcome evil in our lives if we don’t choose to walk in the Word, share our testimonies, and daily claim the blood of Christ. This is what we need to show the world right now in this time of compounded tragedy. The truth is that we don’t have it all together; God does. We struggle too – with many sins and temptations that are against ourselves and the glory of God. We too daily must surrender so we can be filled with the fruit of the Spirit and look more like Christ than the icky stuff that we battle. I believe this surrender and constant battle against our own wills, when seen by others, will manifest itself in love for others and love for God as we find ourselves eager to pass on the glory of God in our lives to those who have not yet heard or understood. This is our calling.
I remember an old song I used to sing in church on Sundays by Frances J. Crosby entitled “Blessed Assurance.” I think the words are an appropriate way to close out this entry.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
“We love because He first loved us.” I John 4:19