The most practical way to fight for hope comes from the hardest journey and the most treacherous terrain – it’s a terrain of dying to self. And no one wants to walk through thick forest and rocky paths alone. No one wants to be cut from the inside, throw aside comfort and go the road of the hard thing – the road of obedience.
But it’s the only way to get to hope.
(Seriously, I wish I had shinier answers).
But truth is: the only real way to hope is through obedience to the very Words of His gospel. Words like:
None of these acts come easily most of the time. They often come with a fight. But isn’t it always the case that the hardest roads lead to glorious victories?
Just last week I knew I needed to go the hard road. Jesus tells us to reconcile ourselves to one another. He reminds us that we will be known for how we love – especially how we love the church. And to be terribly honest – the church has been hard for me to love this year. Instead of ignoring the situation (which I wanted to do), and simply running away (which seemed easier at the time), I chose obedience over comfort.
I chose to fear God’s Word, not because He would stop loving me if I refused it, but because He gave instruction for my good and the health of His church.
Hear me when I say this: I didn’t strive for reconciliation right away, but I do know it wasn’t a passive act. I had to build up my courage. But the difference of building up courage from self-help books versus the Bible is that my courage came from fearing God.
I eventually had to remind myself that if God asked me to go through the grime and muck to reconcile and forgive, then that is enough. It is simply enough.
Courage didn’t come from within; it came from holy fear.
Simply by being in church world long enough, I’ve witnessed our very human nature, my very human nature, choose comfort. I pick what I want to pursue in the Bible and leave the rest for everyone else. But in so doing I’ve forgotten real healing comes from real obedience. Beth Moore says it best:
“It’s been a harrowing trip to Oz for many evangelicals this year, the curtain pulled back on the wizards of cause. We found a Bible all right, seemingly used rather than applied, leveraged instead of obeyed, cut and pasted piecemeal into a pledge of allegiance to serve the served.”
And He is Almighty God. It’s interesting what we do when we forget who He is. Because somehow our limiting of God’s power and authority has led us to flash our Bibles around and color pages full of its quotes without applying the hard lessons He died to prove.
I’m not saying we are going to do this perfectly. Heaven knows, you will never get that message preached here. But I am saying we should aim for obedience even if we fail. Even if we make a fool of ourselves while reconciling. Even if we get hurt further in the acts of forgiveness. And even if we spend a lifetime of dying to ourselves for the sake of others – again and again and again.
We do the hard thing simply because He is God and we are not. Let’s stop making it harder than it really is.
What we do with God’s Word is ultimately our declaration of who we believe He is. And who He actually is, is a God that longs for His church to flourish, His name to reign and His people to walk in freedom. And when we chose to know this God, we begin to experience hope.
What is our tender and Holy God asking you to walk in this week? How can I pray for you and support you so you don’t walk alone?