There are moments in life when things just don't make sense. People and circumstances seem out of whack and misaligned with God's purposes for our lives. What do you do? Where do you turn? How do we keep from becoming disillusioned and disheartened? May I suggest, we trust?
I think I've figured out that to the degree in which we walk with the Lord on a daily basis, that's the level of trust we will have in Him when we face hard times. Have you ever looked at someone in church leadership or ministry and wondered how they could walk away from their faith? We may find ourselves standing in judgement of these trafficked individuals (because that's the truth of the matter - the enemy has trafficked their hearts and minds) because we can't understand how they could leave behind all they've professed and claimed to believe. Where was their hope? Did they not know God as we thought they did? These are questions we might ask ourselves in trying to understand.
But then it happens... We find ourselves broken down by life, fighting personal injustice and we ourselves have been trafficked by the enemy's schemes. Then it begins to make sense. We may ask ourselves these questions: Why am I bothering with this? What difference is any of this making? What was any of it for? We begin to get it - how easy it can be to walk away.
I think many of us are just one crisis away from throwing in the towel and saying so long to this thing called the Christian life. Let's just face it. It's not all smiles and roses. Life can be really hard at times and sadly, we cannot control much of what happens to us. We can however, control how we respond to what happens and it doesn't start when the crisis does.
Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 Some versions say, "Be courageous," or "Cheer up!"
We've all probably seen more than our share of Believers who have walked away from their faith because of pain and difficult situations. I've seen enough for all of us. Life didn't do for them what they wanted, what they'd hoped or expected. So this Christian walk no longer fit in as a priority for their lives. I know that sounds a bit harsh, but that's the truth of the matter. We give priority to what's important to us. We don't stop tending to our children when we're hurting. We don't quit our job because we've lost a loved one. We don't up and move because our world seems to be falling apart. So why is it that so many walk away from their faith when times get hard? Could it be a lack of relationship?
As Believers, we are in relationship with a Person, the Son of the Living God - Jesus. This walk is not about doing good works, saying the right things, or attending church. It encompasses all of those things but the core of our faith in Jesus is all about relationship.
We can't know our spouse if we're not spending time with them. We won't know our friend's secrets if we're not making them a priority. Our children won't confide in us if we're consistently blowing them off. The same is true for Jesus. He's given us a beautiful gift - the gift of relationship, knowing Him intimately and knowing His heart. He invites us into this place of communion with Him that goes beyond serving as a Greeter at church, or teaching Sunday School or leading the Ladies' Ministry. Those are things we do out of love for Jesus and His church, not badges of honor we wear to show how spiritual we are.
I know. So what's all this got to do with falling away from the faith when disillusioned? Relationship. The closer we are to Jesus, the more we learn to trust Him. He suffered as we suffer. He faced injustice, heartache and abuse, yet He endured the shame of the cross and finished well. Why, because His relationship with the Father and his devotion to us made Him stay. His love for our fallen humanity is what kept Him on that cross. His passion for the Creator of the Universe, our Father, kept Him focused and centered on completing the call upon His life. He did not shrink back. He did not throw in the towel, because he was intimately connected to the Father and He kept His eyes solely upon Him. That's the difference. That's why some fall away and others do not when life gets hard. Our level of connectivity to the Father determines our staying power.
Relationship matters. Marriages work because relationship matters. Friendships span years because relationship matters. Faithfulness and spiritual maturity happens because relationship matters.
Speaking to His Father, Jesus said, "you love them as much as you love me." John 17:23 I want us to get that. If we could only see how invested the Father is in us, and how deep His love is for us, we would make our relationship with Him more of a priority. Crisis may come. Turmoil and strife may knock on our door. Tragedy may strike and injustice come calling, but we can face all of those in such a way that we don't cave in, we don't shrink back and we don't turn our backs on our faith. Relationship is the key. Being connected to Jesus - intimately connected, daily hearing His heartbeat, walking with Him and seeking His face will create in us a level of resolve that would never consider any other way to live than being joined in communion with the Lover of our soul.
I want to finish strong. (Acts 20:24) I want to live a life that inspires many yet confounds a few ,because of the level of resolve I possess in trusting God when it doesn't make sense. I want to be so connected to Jesus that He's all others see when they look at me. I want to walk through fire and face injustice with an upturned heart, declaring that it's all for His glory! I don't care what the world says and how they may laugh at my beliefs. "I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me." 2 Timothy 1:12
May I be found worthy in times of both joy and sorrow, celebration and tragedy. To God be the glory!