Recently I’ve caught a glimpse of just how much I’ve been relying on my own efforts to keep living faithfully as a Christian.
Over past months a variety of situations have shaken my foundation. I have seen spiritual running partners stumble, and even one or two seem to drop out suddenly and completely from the race.
I’ve also been reminded in my own life and failings, of the deceitful and often subtle effects of sin. Suddenly I’m feeling a whole lot less confident! It scares me.
This, I think, is a good thing.
When there is an earthquake, you get to see the effectiveness of your foundation. Changes can be made to protect in future quakes.
The foundation of my faith has at times, been some parts Christ, some parts a general trust in my own ability to make good choices, and perhaps subconsciously the false belief that sin only deceives the careless!
But we only have to look at scripture to see that this is wholly inadequate.
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
and a couple of verses earlier we read:
Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord….
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Although it’s a terribly vulnerable feeling to have my foundation exposed as flawed, it has led to a humbling joy too.
All those times when I’ve trusted in myself more than in the desperately needed salvation of the cross, God has continued to be faithful and merciful!
He is at work now to show me that the foundation of my faith needs his work.
I can look back to times I have strayed way too close to the cliff edge in regard to sin; moral and spiritual failures, defiant disobedience, and his hands have upheld my inadequate foundation, or I have heard his protective warning or rebuke.
Please hear me: I don’t look back in indifference, as if these are memories to be shrugged off. Sin is seriously destructive, to ourselves and those around us, and offensive to our holy God and saviour.
I can’t afford to be complacent about sin when it holds such power to derail me. But I continue to be deeply thankful for his grace, and the work of his Spirit in my life.
So how am I changing my foundation with God’s help?
Well I hope this will be another reminder in a long list of them, that I need Jesus far more than I know. May it cause me to grow ever more dependant, remaining in God’s word regularly, prayerful for myself and God’s church. The foundation of my faith simply cannot continue to be found in me or my will power alone!
If I understand the power of sin and Satan, I should never stray far from my saviour and his words. I should also be ready to involve my Christian brothers and sisters, enlisting their help and vigilance too.
In addition I am reminding myself of the clear promises of God, for days when the fear strikes that I won’t make it to the finish line:
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
17 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
With God’s help I will continue in the marathon race of the Christian life – Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
(The rest of Philippians chapter 3 contains other helpful reminders, as the Apostle Paul calls us not to put our confidence in the flesh as we live for Christ.)
This post is just me thinking aloud…perhaps I’ve missed something, or you have a comment to make in response?