Will You Walk Away?

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Here’s Will You Walk Away?

A close friend walked away from the Lord a few years ago. Another friend, a pastor, left his wife, his family and his faith with no explanation. And recently, several well-known pastors and Christian leaders have done the same thing.

These decisions by people whom I’ve loved and respected have deeply troubled me, leaving me unsettled and even fearful. I wonder if their faith felt rock solid to them before they turned away from it. I wonder what happened to precipitate the choices they made. I wonder if they have regrets.

I know how deceitful my own heart is, how prone it is to wander, so I don’t want to throw stones at these individuals. However, I want to know how to prevent my faith from being deconstructed so I don’t leave the God I love. I agree with DA Carson who said, “I would rather die than deny by a profligate life what I have taught in my books; I would rather die than deny or disown the gospel… there are worse things than dying.”

There are worse things than dying, but how can we prevent them from happening to us? We first need to remember that God alone is the one who keeps us. On a recent Ask Pastor John episode, John Piper talks about this very issue saying, “You are secure in Christ, but your security is totally in the hands of God.” The Bible underscores eternal security throughout its pages, and yet we are urged to persevere from passages like Philippians 2:12-13 which says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” So while God ultimately keeps us, to finish well we need to be faithful to what he’s given us, living a life of perseverance and repentance. 

Many of us start well, anxious to serve God and devote our lives to him. We are excited about what God will do in us and through us. We try to do all the right things. But just as Jesus speaks about in the parable of the sower, some people who receive the word will fall away (Matthew 13:1-23). They will either be led astray by the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches or by the trials and suffering of life. Either pleasure or pain will be their downfall.

Most of us want to be successful. What we deem as success varies from one person to another, but we all want to accomplish what’s important to us. Success often means bigger and better: moving up the ladder, beating our previous records, surpassing our peers. Even when Christians talk about living for God’s glory, we often have our own glory intertwined with it, feeling we can give God more glory when we accomplish much. 

When I speak of “Christians,” I’m talking about myself. I pay attention to what other people think of me, feeling proud of their praise and judged by their criticism. I often measure my success horizontally, looking at my peers, evaluating how I stack up against them in the things that matter to me. I like nice things, love good food, admire beauty. I am easily caught up in the pleasures of the world. I know that the deceitfulness of riches could easily ensnare me and I continually ask God to protect me from fixating on my worldly desires.

For others of us, we are tempted to walk away from God in our pain. I understand that as well. When my son died, I couldn’t believe God could let that happen. I had prayed. Fasted. Claimed his promises. Begged God to heal him. And as they lowered our son’s tiny casket into the ground, I wondered what the use of faith was anyway. Hard things happen to us all. Jesus’s words will not make sense to us. We will feel distant from God. Tragedy will strike. We’ll be misunderstood. Our lives will unravel. Instead of looking horizontally as we do in prosperity, we often turn inward, focusing on ourselves and our suffering. It’s hard to think of anything else as pain can be demanding, enveloping, even suffocating. Yet it is when we are most tempted to turn inward that God calls us to lift our eyes to him. To trust that he is with us. To believe that he is doing something in and through our suffering that one day we will thank him for. 

What do we do if we find ourselves in either situation? How should we respond when we are tempted to ignore God and pursue our own pleasure or if we are tempted to deny him in our pain? This isn’t a modern problem – it has been happening for thousands of years as after some of his hard teachings, “many of [Jesus’s] disciples turned back and no longer walked with him (John 6:66).

To keep ourselves from drifting away, we must keep our eyes on Jesus. We need to measure our success vertically and not horizontally, using God’s standards and not the standards of those around us. We must set our minds on things above and not on earthly things. Say no to our sinful desires that wage war against our souls. Trust God even when things don’t make sense

Paul models this single-minded mindset well for us. He likens our lives to a race in which we look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:1-2). We forget what lies behind and press forward to what lies ahead at the finish line (Phil 3:13-14). The path is narrow, not wide, and we need to stay on it so we can say in the end, “I have fought the good fight, I finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7) Then we will hear those precious words, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your master.” (Matt 25:21)

I want to hear those words more than anything. And yet I have a wicked wandering heart, so daily I must entrust myself to God and pray for mercy as I commit myself to his word and his work. 

We all stand on the brink of eternity. We have one chance at a life on this earth, just a few short years, and then comes the rest of our unending existence. Yet too often we are consumed with this life, its pleasures and successes, forgetting that we could die tomorrow. Francis Chan in his rope illustration powerfully depicts that reality and challenges us all to finish well. If you have never seen it before, I encourage you to watch this four-minute video.

Will you finish well? Will I? I pray that we will. To finish well is to be faithful to what God has entrusted to us. It is to keep our focus vertical, looking to Jesus alone, and not to the people around us. It is to understand that for all of our days, he must increase and we must decrease. To the glory of God the Father.

source : https://www.vaneetha.com/journal/will-you-walk-away

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