We live in the richest planet on earth. As Americans we enjoy luxuries others couldn’t imagine. Something as simple as a Chick-Fil-A is a luxury compared to a third-world country. Americans worship at an alter of the “pain free life”. Virtually everything we do is centered on being pain free. Your iPhone is an extension of the pain free life. So is your DVR recorder. So is an app that lets you order your Starbucks so you don’t have to wait in line.
And the church has embraced this pain free “gospel”. Where on earth did we get the notion that as believers, God would provide for us a pain free life? Do you remember what your life was like before Jesus? Was it easy to turn away from the sinful life and accept Jesus and then explain to your friends why you weren’t as much “fun” as you used to be? Was it easy to break away from past patterns? Sure you wanted to – you’d been saved and you loved Jesus … but … was it easy? The point is that right out of the gate of this new found faith, it wasn’t easy. Nothing about it is easy. Pain free? No way. Perhaps the most iconic measure of the Christian faith itself is associated with deep pain. The Cross.
We are not promised a pain-free life as believers. God does not shield us from assault from the world. Amen to that. I know many believing families under near constant assault. My own family is under such an assault right now. Is it easy? Is it pain free? No. It is an assault. It is burdensome and frustrating.
But God is always up to something. In the assault of this life that comes on you as a believer, God is shaping you. In my case, it is all about humility. I’m being humbled. God has allowed these difficult things so as to overwhelm me with a sense of my inadequacy. Yep. Check. Got that one. I’m totally inadequate. He does these things so as to drive us to cling to Him all the more closely. Amen to that.
As American Christians living in what the rest of the world would call luxury, it is so very easy to drift away from Him. So easy to disconnect from the Vine and just be my own little branch of my own, a “I’ve got this figured out” kind of man. Then, BOOM, the hammer falls and you go to your knees and remember just how desperately you need Him.
Branch to vine men. Branch to Vine. Apart from the Vine, we’re just days away from drying out and falling apart. God is moving and so is your enemy. He seeks to steal, kill and destroy. He prowls around. That means he’s out and about just looking for an opportunity. The next time you feel weak and you need just a little pick me up, stop. Stop. Don’t do it. Don’t run to Starbucks and get a nice cup of coffee instead of the office coffee. Don’t go on Amazon and buy something. Don’t go to that porn site. Don’t fixate on getting some loving from your wife. Don’t buy something. Don’t medicate it. Stop. Stop. Those don’t fix it. They medicate it and when the medicine wears off, you need more.
Turn to the Father. Realize what is happening. Realize that yet again instead of turning to Him, you were about to turn to one of your idols of instant gratification. Realize you’re in pain for a reason. Ask God into that pain. Ask to be Fathered. Graft your branch back into the Vine and let God love you. Pick up the Word. Read Galatians. Read 1 John. Read Ephesians. Read James. They are short books. Work your way through them. Underline the words that speak to you. Write in the margins. Journal what God is showing you. Journal how you feel Him Fathering you.
You’re under assault. You’re on fire. Stop. Drop. (to your knees) and Roll. (back to Him).