To Live in the Shadow

Nothing about this faith journey comes easily to any of us, friends.

That said, God has really been stirring things in me the past several weeks about being more proactive in my faith. It seems every book or blog post or Bible verse I read is pointing out my glaring need to embrace and activate truth in my life. A truth that often goes against the grain of society and grates against my own nerves more often than I care to admit. As much as I believe the words of the Bible, I struggle to implement them in the throes of everyday living. I war against doubt just like the next person, wrestling to hold onto hope when everything I’m feeling is begging me to throw my hands into the air and walk away… just away.

Unfortunately (or more appropriately, fortunately), I seldom can wander too far.

For better or for worse, I’m most often known as the “truth-teller” within my circle of friends. A stigma that can be bittersweet at times. Truthfully (pardon the pun), I don’t enjoy reminding myself or others of our responsibility according to Scripture when we’re all feeling fed up with life in general. But no matter how I fight against it, the pull to challenge people to take the higher road just won’t stop tugging. Because as much as I want to provide a listening ear and an understanding heart, I also want us to grow beyond our circumstances. To rise above our hurts and take ownership of our inheritance in Jesus Christ.

I know the tiredness of being soul weary when wave after wave of storms keep turning the tide against you. I know the temptation toward leaning into hopelessness instead of into Jesus’ arms, though they are constant and stable in their openness to receive us. Oh, the storms might appear differently in my life than they do in yours, but they are there nonetheless. I’ve had my fair share of being overwhelmed by the “too muchness” of it all. Of wishing to avoid the wilderness wanderings and head straight to the promised land of ease and plenty.

Yet through every struggle, the call toward truth remains. Beckoning this prodigal heart to return, and convincing me to gather fellow-stragglers along the way. Issuing yet another invitation to remember and to believe the timeless riches of a certainty that stands firm even when we don’t.

No matter the season of life in which you are dwelling at the moment, no matter the trials facing you or the storms threatening to unsettle the very foundation of all you believe, I urge you to call to mind God’s faithfulness. No matter how desolate your surroundings appear, there have been signs of His presence along the way. There have been answers to prayers. There have been treasures hidden in the darkest of nights. I pray you are stirred to remembrance of these things today. Instead of comparing the seemingly insignificant answers against the largeness of your still very real unanswered requests, I pray you can look beyond it all and focus upon the cross of Jesus.

Even if He never once answered another one of our prayers or gave even a mere inkling of His presence, the cross is still enough.

I hope you will be reminded to go there, today.

Go back to the cross.

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Get back into the shadow of Calvary and let your pains be absorbed in His own, even if you have to fight your way there on bloodied and bruised knees. Turn your thoughts toward His grace and salvation. Allow your heart to be moved to His feet and your days surrendered once again into the Savior’s keeping. For it is in that shadow that you will find rest and strength. And, believe it or not, that long-sought-after victory.

Get there, and stay there, my friend.

Be tenacious in reaching out despite the enemy’s lies tempting you to draw back within yourself. Stretch to believe again. Stretch to reach past the veil torn to allow you close and constant access to the One who is mighty to save – once and for all and continually. Moment by moment. Struggle after struggle. Through every tense relationship. In every season of heartache when you are at your very weakest of faith.

May you find your way back to His grace and linger long in its shadow until your heart is convinced of not just His ways, but of His love and kind intent toward you.

For it is real and larger than any lie looming to convince you otherwise.

It’s not over until Father says it is over. He is not finished with you, and Satan does not get the final say on your life…

Calvary does.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)

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