A phrase I like to use a lot to describe my life as a follower of Christ is wonderfully abundant. How precious is the gift of grace and forgiveness that is freely available to us? Because of Jesus, we are able to live an abundant life full of joy, laughter and freedom.
What I think can sometimes be missed is that a wonderfully abundant life does not mean pain is void and hardships do not exist. When we decide to follow Jesus with our lives, it does not mean we suddenly become immune to the struggles and temptations of this world. What it does mean is that we have hope and a straight path. We have a choice to step into that hope and follow that path!
I’ve been listening to the new River Valley Worship album Altars and thinking a lot about the lyrics of the song Hallways:
When I’ve forgotten, this is not the destination
Remind my soul to start recalling
This is just a hallway, on my way home
You see, the inflictions we experience, the pain we endure, it is all momentary. God has more in store for us than we can ever imagine. The life we live on earth is just a hallway. The path Jesus sets out for us is leading us home, to eternity in His kingdom.
We may not be able to change our present circumstances, but we can change the narrative. The beautiful thing is that we are not in this alone. God has given us an enormous amount of tools to fight our battles. And nothing we are going through surprises Him!
In Ephesians 6:10-18 we read about putting in the whole armor of God. Lean into this today! No matter how big or small the battle may feel, this armor is not only available, but essential:
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
Here’s how I break down each part of the armor of God:
Belt of truth: our full and complete belief in God’s truth and power to win the victory.
Breastplate of righteousness: a right relationship with God and His character in us.
Shoes for your feet: boldly proclaiming Christ’s message to overcome the enemy.
Shield of faith: actively placing faith over fear and courageously letting our faith rise up in us.
Helmet of salvation: a regular renewing of our minds and confidence in our lives through Him.
Sword of the Spirit: God’s Word, which is our offensive weapon to attack the enemy. But more than that, a belief that His Word is true and will be victorious.
Our narrative begins to change when we put on this armor. The trajectory of our battle shifts. In spiritual warfare, we cannot effectively fight in our own strength. I for one, am thankful for that! I wouldn’t want to fight any battle of mine on my own.
In a time where our immediate future is unknown, where you may find yourself in an impossible situation, where the victory of your battle may feel unimaginable, it’s time for us as the church to leave a better narrative.
C.S. Lewis says “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny”. What I know to be true is that that destiny is eternity with Christ and that is what I am clinging to today!
Be on guard, stand firm, show your God-given strength, keep your eyes focused on Him alone and be reminded today, you are stronger than you think!
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)