Trigger warning: this is quite a personal post from my faith journey in the middle of this year. My prayer is that through being more vulnerable in this space that others will be encouraged and spurred to seek first the Kingdom of God and that we can point each other away from the uncertainties of our circumstances to the certainty of the Cross and freedom of Christ.
Six months ago I was attacked.
Not physically. Spiritually.
On a Friday night, I watched Pilgrim’s Progress with Mamabear. What should have been an encouragement in holding fast to the testimony of Jesus and remaining steadfast in God’s love and truth was instead distorted into a fear that I was one of the ones who stumbled from the narrow path, missing the Cross and therefore not receiving my certificate into the Celestial City (Zion).
Welcome to Guilt City. Not a place you want to be.
Not when Christ has set you free, in Mercy Street.
I questioned if I had had a revelation of Christ to receive the seal of salvation and if I had truly cast all my burdens at the Cross before taking up my own cross and the weapons to fight the warfare that was ahead.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
– Jesus says this in Matthew 11:28-30.
So then why did I take on this burden?
How easy it is to be led astray, to forget the Cross is where the weight is freed, released – not where weight is gained. At the time, I hadn’t realised that this fear planted in my mind was a dart from the enemy.
This fear was warfare. I had need not fear. I already had the weapons.
The fear that had erupted in me erred into discussion and mental turbulence in those coming days. I am so thankful for my parents who prayed with me as I dove deeper and deeper into the Word. The Word is living and active and sharper than a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), and I am so thankful for how it cuts to the core of everything and brings clarity.
See the enemy is strategic, and deception is sneaky. But. If we choose to remain rooted in the Word, seeking first the Kingdom of God, our trials can lead us deeper to the revelation of Christ in areas of our lives where we might not realise we have been in bondage.
I had renewed vigour to discover the intricacies of what it means to be on a mission to the Celestial City (Zion!).
Though, in my questioning, my searching, my desire to “prove” my faith and salvation was true – I was looking to cover over my doubts with something that I already knew, something I already believed. I had heard (past tense) the good news, yet my head was getting a little confused. Had I truly heard? Had I truly learned? This was a new learning curve.
Doubts deter, disturb, deceive, distort. Doubts detract what is added onto us by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).
See my memory failed me, my faith faltered, but, this enabled the Lord to claim new territory in a place where there was vulnerability, fragility and fear. I had forgotten, just as we all forget. We are only human; our memories are flawed. We do not always remember right. We reject that which gives life.
But friends, there is good news. I already had evidence of my salvation.
I didn’t need proof.
I needed Jesus.
More of him, less of me.
More grace, less guilt.
Jesus is the living proof of God’s righteousness and love and justice and saving grace for all who call on his name.
There is power in the name of Jesus. He has overcome. OVERCOME. What that word means is that he has, he is, and he will successfully deal with our sin, successfully deal with our salvation and successfully deal with our justification and sanctification.
In this season I was like Peter, I had stepped out of the boat, was walking on the sea, gazing at Jesus, until, suddenly, I was looking at my feet, and sinking, sinking. My perspective was facing the wrong way. I needed to change where I was looking.
My sight was not fixed on Jesus, but on my slipping, my sinking –
on my own inability to save myself from sin and the sways of this life.
“But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.”
So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”
Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” “
– Matthew 14:26-31
See this life – this pilgrimage, the Christian walk – is a narrow path. There are so many ‘paths’ we mark in our society, but only one path that leads to eternity. In this we must not fear misstepping, but trust the one who won’t leave us guessing. If we fear, we perpetuate the plague of the enemy, the sickness of sin, a heart turned from him.
But if we have faith, if we cry out like Peter to the one who can save, then our hearts are changed. And a heart turned to him doesn’t fear missing out, doesn’t fear missing the mark, doesn’t fear not being enough. No. A heart turned to him is found in him, and he fills all fear with his love, for perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). He meets us where we are at, fulfilling our needs. For his grace is sufficient when we are weak (2 Corinthians 12:9). He is enough.
But if we focus on our own steps like Peter, we can forget to fix our gaze on Christ. This is why we need to keep our eyes on Jesus, to lead us in the narrow way. He paved the narrow path in himself, as he says:
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
– John 14:6
I was reminded afresh during this trial of the necessity of taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). And of the necessity of the armour of God (Ephesians 6).In Pilgrims Progress, when he gets attacked and his helmet of salvation falls to the side, Christian (the protagonist) has his shield of faith taken away as the enemy gives him a good beating. But in that moment of warfare, of wounding, it is then that the sword of the spirit fires up and stabs the enemy in the gut.
Well take that Satan!
You’re not beating up on me anymore either. For there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1).
It feels quite foolish to share this now. I have withheld sharing this for months. But I pray, I believe, that this will speak to you – YOU. Today. I am only in a better place because I wrestled in this way, coming to a greater understanding of the work of the Cross, that “in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 3:13). For the Lord is MIGHTY TO SAVE.
Once for all
You paid it all
The fall we all
But turning to you
Oh I’m falling
Oh I’ve fallen
Fallen in love
Newness of life
That I am
Alive in Christ
Raised with Christ
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
James 1:2-8, 12-17
- I recommend reading John Bunyans ‘Pilgrims Progress‘ for an insightful allegory of a Christian’s walk.