The Valley of Decision
Modern Christianity has a serious problem. It has been hijacked by a consumer culture dedicated to proclaiming what is popular, doing what is fun, and devoted to what makes us feel “ok” about everything. At some point down the road of authentic Christianity, each of us will discover why Jesus said that only those who took up their cross and hated their lives in this world could follow Him.
What we see in our culture today is not true Christianity. It is a hybrid of Christianity and political correctness designed to offend no one. When challenged by the claims of Jesus Christ it will not accept Him or anyone else who insists that He is the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life.
In looking at the life of Christ we see one which ended in a lonely, painful death. To the multitudes who followed him, the Jewish leaders, and the Roman authorities this is where His story ended. Only those who were empowered by His Holy Spirit ever learned of His resurrected life and The Rest of the Story. As it was then, so it is today. Why should we expect that the world would treat us as His followers any better than they treated Him and His disciples over 2000 years ago?
So – the question becomes this: why follow Him at all? Taken within the context of this world and an earthy life it makes no sense at all. However, Christ teaches us that this world is not our home. His Kingdom, our true Home, begins when this world ends. This is why Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourself riches that rust, get stolen or corrupted. Instead lay up for yourselves true riches that are safe from these things.” The problem is this: there is a big part of us that still wants much of what this world has to offer. We want its acceptance, its love, its opportunities. When we find ourselves in a place where these two worlds collide we come to the valley of decision.
God Never Fails
Believe it or not, I have endured a great many trials during my years of serving Christ. I have often felt that if I had known of them in advance, I would never have said “yes” to His call on my life. In having lived though some of the things that I have, there have been many, many lessons learned. About faith. About the true nature of God. About His enduring love. About how He never leaves us. There was a purpose for each trial I endured, though perhaps it was not evident at the time.
I am convinced that that each time I was asked to carry my cross and follow Him that it was not wasted. I believe that perhaps in ways hidden from my eyes God used or will use these things in a way that gives Him glory. This is what it means to trust Him. I do not even have to see in my lifetime the fruit of my obedience. Though there are times , I must admit, when when I struggle mightily to believe this truth. Yet I can so easily recall when His Spirit within me led faithfully as I walked hand in hand with Him into the dark night of the soul. I trusted then not seeing that anything He led me into would ultimately be for my good. There were times that I was terrified by the might and the verocity of the enemy and the total silence of any friendly voices around me. Though in the midst of what seemed at times total darkness, yet still I was never truly lost to faith. In the face of sometimes unrelenting pain, I learned to trust again and again and again.
I am convinced that any action done in trust and faith must yield fruit for eternity as surely as throwing a ball into the air will yield to the force of gravity and bring it crashing to the ground.. Anything, ANYTHING we do in faith yields eternal fruit. It is an absolute reliable, undeniable, unbreakable, thoroughly trustworthy truth that any action of faith in God yields eternal fruit. If it takes well beyond my death for the harvest to be realized, yet will I trust that each and every step taken along the broken road results in eternal glory and praise and power. There is nothing that can stand in the way of the power of God’s grace. He is. And He is eternal. As it was in my life then, so it is now. God is my rock and my salvation. I shall trust in Him and I shall not be afraid. This is my wish for you as well, my brothers and sisters in Christ. That when you face your own ” dark night of the soul”, as we all surely must, that you will know and trust that God never leads you into anything that He will not walk you through to the other side. Though you may not see the wisdom of it at the time, your trials will yield eternal fruit if you but trust that He always has your utmost good as His highest calling. Amen.