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Our Weekly Devotional

Out of Control

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 • Randy Kilgore • Forgiveness
Our faith isn't measured by the absence of sin or mistakes in our lives; but rather by our desire to get back up, look back to Jesus, and continue the trek in this two-steps forward, one-step back journey to eternity.

     During a question and answer session at a conference several years ago, a young woman asked me how I decided what anecdotes to use and what people I chose to highlight when I wrote my devotions.  As I answered her, I could see she wasn't really listening.  Instead she was looking down at a paper she held in her hands.

     When I stopped speaking, she proudly told the room what she called "disparaging stories" about two of the Christians I'd featured: Their crime, in her opinion, was that at the end of their lives, both failed to demonstrate the courage other martyrs had shown.  "While they may have appeared to be worthy of Jesus once," she proclaimed triumphantly, "they were anything but worthy at the end."

     Her comments reflected a performance view of faith that sentences Christians to a roller coaster ride of highs and lows.  It changes our discovery of grace, and its free-flowing stream of mercy from a loving Father, back to an impossible set of behavior hurdles.   This same thinking can be found in a saying Christians often hear but which isn't found in Scripture: "God never lets us face more than we can handle."

      God never promised that to anyone.  Nor does He endorse a faith that measures us in all-or-nothing fashion.  In fact, people---including Christians---often encounter more than they can handle; and more than a few collapse under pressure. 

     In a fallen world, Christians and non-Christians alike will encounter difficulties, and some will completely overwhelm us, spinning us out of control.  Some get angry with God, blame Him for their circumstances or His apparent disinterest, and say or do things that don't honor God at the time.  Most just lose hope, even more convinced they aren't good enough for God. 

     To judge the quality of someone's faith---or our own faith---during these times shows a wrong understanding of life and God.   That's as true if it's the last act of our lives, or the middle part of our journey.  It's also why it's so important we understand that once we accept the grace of Jesus Christ, God promises He will forever keep us in His care. 

     All of us have moments we wish weren't part of our story; and most of us punish ourselves mercilessly by reliving those moments, berating ourselves again and again.  Paul, a one-time persecutor of Christians and someone with a "thorn in his flesh" that constantly plagued him, really understood what words we needed to hear when He wrote these from His own journey: 

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ---Philippians 3:13-14

     God does promise us His presence in our trials, and often that presence is felt most tangibly in the unconditional love and unwavering presence of other Christians who sit with us in distress, and who listen to us when we blow off our fears and emotions, all while refusing to judge us or give up on us.  In fact, one of the best gifts Christians can give each other is the gift of unwavering presence. 

     Here then, is comforting truth. Our faith iisn't measured by the absence of sin or mistakes in our lives; but rather by our desire to get back up, look back to Jesus, and continue the trek in this two-steps forward, one-step back journey to eternity.

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