Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Christian Life: A Long Walk (not a run) in the Same Direction…

I believe it was Eugene Peterson who some years ago uttered the phrase, "The Christian life is a long walk in the same direction."
If you've been with the Lord any amount of years at all, you know that much of His process in our lives is teaching us that our Christian life is not a "sprint," but a long, plodding, faithful and committed "walk" with Him. How God needs "plodders." 
In many ways, the child's story of "The Tortoise and the Hare" is not so far-fetched at all when it comes to the Christian walk. I've seen a lot of "Hares" over the years who have failed to finish well with the Lord; and I've also been privileged to know lots of "Tortoises" as well. Those faithful saints you build churches with, that just keep going and going, many times in spite of the circumstances, like Job, rather than because of the situation. They are, deservedly, contemporary versions of God's "Hall of Faith" (Heb. 11). 
To me, the key to these lives that faithfully plod on is that they are people who have their emotions and feelings in subjection to their faith. They rarely let their feelings and fractures "inform" them, or, as another has said, "They refuse to take counsel of their fears." They, like Moses, somehow have the God-informed "forever eyes" that balance out all of life by the long range gaze at the Divine city that is to come (Heb. 11-13) (Eschatology is so critical to an ongoing walk of hope). 
Wesley had a limerick that speaks well to the walk of faith over temporalities. It went like this, and it's worth memorizing:
Frames and feelings fluctuate,
These can ne'er thy savior be.
Learn thyself "in Christ" to see, 
Then be feelings what they will, 
Jesus is thy Savior still. 
So, dear saint, "plod on." By His grace you'll make it to the end (Phil. 1:6: Psa. 138:8). Be done with useless spurts and wind sprints. They'll just burn you out ahead of time. Indeed, as Wesley said, "Learn thyself in Christ to see," with the emphasis on "learn." That means the slow nurture of daily walk and personal discipline in the Word of God and Prayer - what we call the two apostolic non-negotiables (s. Acts 6:4).
And what will you come to find? You will find that it's "easier to act (by faith) your way into feelings, that it is to feel your way into actions."
Who fleshed that out that better than Job, even as we hear him hoarsely through his parched lips, dry eyes, and feverish skin: "Though HE slay me, yet will I trust in HIM" (Job 13:15). That is the hallmark verse of the man or woman who has "learned" to walk by faith, not by sight, by the eternal, not the ephemeral, not the transient. 
Plod on!
"Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4.11–13 NAS95

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