What Could Have Been
One of the thoughts I constantly struggled with earlier in my Christian walk was whether I should wait until my old age to serve God wholeheartedly. To me, Christianity was full of rules and inhibitions, you cannot do this, etc. I felt it would simply deny me of enjoying my life. I was even more worried considering my hormones were raging, and the Bible was clearIy against premarital sex. I was thinking I should rather wait until my old age and then give my life wholeheartedly to God. But I did not consider that the length of my days are numbered and dictated by none other than God and that the whole duty of man is to serve God, hence I had better heed the advice of the sage to serve the Lord in my youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
Nonetheless, I was quickly brought to my senses when I was miraculously saved from drowning. I was at the beach with friends and since I only knew some basic swimming skills, I stayed at the shore, following the advice of the lifeguard. I was jumping in the waves with friends. Everything was ok and I was really enjoying the whole experience. Then once I jumped and this time my feet did not touch the ground! I was trying to swim, but the waves were too strong for my basic skills. I was disoriented and did not know which direction to go. I was trying to shout, but when I opened my mouth I was drinking seawater!
In my desperation, I cried out to God. When I thought all hope was gone, a hand held me and brought me ashore. Like Jonah from the belly of the fish, I realized that the most important factor in this life is God. When I was drowning, my qualifications and credentials, networks, the material things that were competing for my commitment with God, could not help!
When I was ashore I kept wondering, “Is this how fast life can slip away, just one jump?” Just one jump and see where I ended up, so far away from the shore where I thought I was safe! I asked the one who accidentally swam to my end what prompted him to come that far and he said, “Something just made me come that far.” I thanked him for listening to that small voice but thanked God ultimately for coming to my rescue as His grace and mercies found me even when I was doubting Him. Without God, I would be an educated fool, because there is always a way that seemeth right unto a man but the end is death. However, with God, you can access wisdom to navigate the issues of life successfully.
That night as I lay on my bed, I kept staring at the ceiling, knowing that I could have been lying in the morgue or my coffin some few hours earlier. And it has been a fruitful journey thus far and I have come to welcome the twists and turns as He did not promise a life without challenges. When you give your life to God, then you can truly enjoy life abundantly. The thief cometh only to kill and destroy, but in Him is life. As much as I love to socialize, I have also learned to be guided by the counsel … blessed is he who does not sit in the counsel of the ungodly.
Sometimes we may deceptively think we are on the shores of a worldly temptation, but soon realize we are in deep waters and struggling to overcome. His hands are not too short to bring us to the shores of His presence, where there is fullness of joy.
Sinners Gonna Sin – Crosswalk the Devotional – August 20
by John UpChurch
“For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.” Philippians 3:18-19
We should never be surprised by sin. Humans run to it, fill their hands with the dripping filth, and smear it over their bodies. From birth. From conception (Psalm 51:5). It’s the natural state of what it means to be a fallen Homo sapiens.
Often, though, it’s easy to forget our own dip into the slop. Years of following Jesus can make that mud bath indistinct and alien in our memories. We were, but are no longer (Romans 6:6). The times we plunged headfirst into sin no longer seem real. We forget how arduous the road has been that’s brought us here—the struggles, the temptations, the urges to turn around and dive back in. We forget that each victory came with wounds. We forget why we have the scars.
With that newness of rebirth comes the temptation to compare everything and everyone with where we are now. Our filth cleansed, we see clearly. And what we see are those pitiful figures still flailing in the dirt, still covering themselves with sin.
It’s easy to be disgusted. The mud seems much dirtier now than it was when we were in it, more putrid to our nostrils. Certainly we would never do what they do—those still wallowing, those whose god is their every whim and desire. There’s nothing very attractive in the mess.
But when you think of what will become of those who blindly grope in the sludge, when you consider the destiny of those who glory in their own shame, you start to see something else. God looked into just such filth to find a struggling wretch—one that looked just like you. His love wasn’t deterred by all your caked-on grime. His compassion wasn’t stopped by the junk that clung to you. He yanked you from the pit and put your feet on the rock. Then, He washed you clean.
Sin comes naturally to humanity. But love that looks past the grime to share the hope of the gospel? That’s the hard thing. That’s the thing worth doing.
Why Jesus Asks Us to Bear One Another’s Burdens
Clarence L. Haynes Jr.Contributing Writer, crosswalk.org