- I follow Jesus.
- Life is hard.
- In the Lord I find joy and strength.
- Satan keeps attacking.
- God keeps perfecting.
I feel like this has been my year summed up in a nutshell. As a matter of fact this is probably a circular list of statements that have happened ever since I began following Jesus.
When you begin following Christ many times people don’t tell you that it’s going to be hard. There is this picture painted where Jesus death and resurrection have freed us from sin to have a beautiful blessed home and life now, which will culminate in eternity with Christ. This picture typically includes rolling green hills of financial peace, bright blue skies of turmoil free relationships with all people and beautiful flowers of joy to do whatever I desire! This isn’t even a biblical picture unfortunately! But even if it were, nowhere in this picture are new followers typically presented with the ugly cuts in the canvas (underneath the painting) or are they shown the places in this art where colors accidently merged, creating an undesired brown. But, this is the reality – the true picture of following Jesus.
We are God’s masterpiece (according to Ephesians 2:10) but ask anyone who has written or painted a masterpiece and you will find it takes time. Editing. Molding. Shaping. This process of being made into the perfect masterpiece is what Scripture calls sanctification, and a wise friend once told me “Sanctification isn’t for sissies!” Jesus himself said we must take up our cross and follow Him no matter the cost. It’s all or nothing. If Jesus lived a sacrificial life, serving God in all things, and taught that the greatest person would be the one who is slave to all (see Mark 10:43-45) then why is it we expect things to be wonderful and go the way we desire? Since when does a servant get to do everything they want?! They don’t. They do whatever their master desires. In this case, our master is our loving Father who also desires to work with us for His Kingdom. This is a kingdom with an enemy and a kingdom that is breaking into that enemy’s territory. God is on the offensive, and thus we are on the offensive. He is the winner of the war. In Him we must rely completely. If you aren’t being attacked then maybe you should ask if you are pushing into enemy territory with Jesus because we all know this – the enemy is not giving up without a fight.
So, when life is hard remember that we are still in a broken world tainted by sin. A world where Satan grasps tightly with his “fingertips” onto that which he once had a seemingly firm grip. When temptation comes remember that even Jesus was tempted but you find your joy and strength in Him through the Holy Spirit – not money, people, TV shows or technology. It is through the junk of my life where God often begins to show me the tainted/ugly/unperfected aspects of this masterpiece and it is in my surrender to the Master Craftsman/Artist that I find myself back at the top of the list above.
- I follow Jesus.
- I confess that life has been hard.
- I confess that I seek to find my joy and strength in the Lord and yet sometimes look elsewhere (still being perfected, remember?).
- It is clear to me that Satan keeps attacking as I join with Christ on the offensive.
- It is also clear to me that God keeps perfecting me, and this process is not for sissies.
Yet, I follow Jesus.