I’m sure many people read articles by Christian writers and preachers and think, “they must be really strong.” They might assume that these people never miss a bible reading, never forget to pray, and always do everything with the proper motivation.
The truth is, every Christian who writes or speaks publicly faces the same struggles you face every day.
Here at Elihu’s Corner, I do a lot of posts about digging into God’s Word and remaining constant in prayer. You might be tempted to think I never struggle with consistency in these endeavors—but oh, I do!
Ironically, the day I published “The Meeting We All Desperately Need,” I was interrupted five different times (in thirty minutes!) while attempting to re-establish my regular bible study time.
I found myself off-center and it frustrated me.
When I first got behind the wheel of a car at age 15, there were several facts I learned rather quickly. For one, I had no idea how many different things one had to pay attention to while driving. I was trying to shift gears and check my mirrors and coordinate my uncoordinated feet with the clutch, the gas, and the brake pedals. Unlike my very observant older brother, I had usually stared out the window while riding in the car, watching clouds drift by, noting the colors of the sunset or just daydreaming. I had paid little attention to how to drive a car. As I result of my hideous inattention, I was a terrible new driver.
My biggest surprise at the time was how much I had to do to keep the car going straight.
This might sound funny to you, but I didn’t realize why it was necessary to keep your hands on the wheel while going in a straight line. I just thought people did that in case they needed to turn or veer away from an obstacle.
Go ahead. Laugh. It was a pretty ridiculous assumption.
Roads typically have a bit of a crown to them so the water will run off to the sides. As a result, a car will not necessarily keep going straight down the road if you take your hands off the wheel. The adjustments we make to the steering wheel are so minor that we often think very little about them, but to a new driver, these may be surprising as they were to me all those years ago.
Think of your Christian life like driving down a long stretch of narrow road. Consider for a moment that your choices and actions are akin to steering the wheel of the car. To maintain our center, we have to balance the disciplines of our Christian faith, such as prayer, bible study, worship etc.
If we take our hands off the wheel or allow ourselves to get distracted, we could very well go off into a ditch or find ourselves on a different road entirely. Just like we need to make minor adjustments to keep going straight down a physical road, sometimes we need to make minor adjustments to our prayer and study habits to stay on center.
Do not think for a moment that this implies salvation by our own deeds. We are saved by grace through faith. However, the life of faith is one lived in action (See James chapter 2.14-16). We don’t put our feet on the dash and cruise our way to heaven—there are too many choices we must make every single day. Any one of those choices could be the one that pulls us off course and causes us to reject the gift of grace given to us by God.
Also, I am not implying that we are “in control” of our lives; we are not in control of what goes on in this world—God is. We are, however, in control of the choices we make every moment of every day. We can—through apathy or complacency—make decisions (even small ones!) that lead us away from God.
The apostle Peter wrote the following to the early Christians:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
~ 1 Peter 5.8, ESV
We need prayer. We need regular intake of God’s word. We need worship. We need to extend hospitality. Above all, we need love to be the motivating force behind our choices. When we stop giving our full attention to these things, we become easy targets for Satan’s schemes.
If you, like me, ever find yourself steering languidly with one hand on the wheel, either by distraction or complacency, straighten your posture, put both hands not the wheel at 10 and 2, fix your eyes on Jesus, and go forward. We must be vigilant drivers, not complacent or distracted. We are going to have to make regular adjustments to the position of the wheel to stay down this narrow road.
The Lord knows we are going to mess up—that’s why we so desperately need grace! But when we mess up or even slightly veer off center, God expects us to repent by making the adjustments necessary.
My friends, please take to heart the words of our Lord, Jesus Christ:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
~ Matthew 7.21-25, ESV (emphasis mine)
God is with you and wants you to succeed. Stay focused, dear friends, and if there is anything I can do to help you in this effort, please do no hesitate to let me know. I want to see you all with me when we finally reach heaven.