13-14“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention. (Matthew 7:13-14, The Message)
I remember a trip to the Outer Banks one year a long time ago getting a bumper sticker at Kitty Hawk Kites in Kitty Hawk (across from those huge dunes at Jockey Ridge State Park where they hang glide) that read, “Life is a Breeze”. Young and dumb, I believed that.
That was thirty years ago and a lot has changed. Not only to the Outer Banks area, although Kitty Hawk Kites and Jockeys Ride State Park are still there, but life in general.
Back in those days, I didn’t have a care in the world. Single, drinkin’ beer, gettin’ high, and all I cared about was paying the rent on time and keeping gas in the car. I lived paycheck to paycheck, and spent every dime in between. There was no sense of accountability, responsibility, saving for the future, or budgeting for the future either.
Now that I’m in my 50’s, I’ve seen that life is NOT a breeze. Tragedies happen. Divorce happens. Collateral damage happens. It just happens. It’s a fact of life. Job’s friends were wrong: Job didn’t do anything to deserve his tragedies; they just happened (for a reason, we find out later). Life is tough. For some, it’s tougher than others, but for everyone, it can be hard at one time or another. That’s just the way it is.
In today’s devo of My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald talks about the Christian life being a struggle, too. He says,
“If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all efforts of worth and excellence are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but it difficulty does not make us faint and cave in—it stirs us up to overcome. Do we appreciate the miraculous salvation of Jesus Christ enough to be our utmost for His highest—our best for His glory?”
See the question mark? That’s what it’s all about. That’s the real question when life gets hard. I’ve succeeded at times when life got hard and I’ve failed at times when life got hard. But that question will never go away as long as we have air in our lungs.
Oswald goes on to say:
“Thank God that He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a joyous thing, but it is also something that requires bravery, courage, and holiness. It tests us for all we are worth. Jesus is ‘bringing many sons to glory’ (Hebrews 2:10) , and God will not shield us from the requirements of sonship. God’s grace produces men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not pampered, spoiled weaklings. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live the worthy and excellent life of a disciple of Jesus in the realities of life. And it is always necessary for us to make an effort to live a life of worth and excellence.”
“Tests us for all we are worth”. Just like Job. Hmmm.