March 31, 2014 by Isaac Hovet
The current of this life carries us. The lulls of the river may lull us to sleep while the rapids focus us. There is plenty advice about how to be or what to think in the storms of life, but perhaps we are most tripped up when our life presents a season of ease or comfort.
Scripture gives us some advice that is especially pertinent for the peaceful bends which lead most of us towards apathy.
“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.”
(1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT)
Here is some food for thought for the peaceful places of life:
1) Be on guard
We are told that the enemy of our souls prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to consume us. Mostly his tactics are: deception, temptation and shame.
Deception: Be on guard against false truths. In our culture, the most common form of untruth is ease. We bend reality in order to accommodate ‘progressive’ morality.
I’d suggest that our perception of what is right and wrong and why it matters is especially clouded when we have the time luxury of rethinking previously held assumptions. We should be very wary and on guard during times of peace.
Temptation: Jesus himself was tempted by the devil. The devil presented 1) False provision (bread from stones), 2) False worship (bow before false god) and 3) Manipulating God (throw yourself off and angels will catch you).
We will be tempted with the same: tempted to make our own provision by worshiping work, hoarding, overspending with credit cards, being stingy. Tempted to worship false gods: money, success, looks, political agendas (thinking that a certain someone or way will lead to fulfillment), sports teams, spouses, children. God invites us to worship him alone and any of these things easily become what we chase. And, ultimately, false gods fails us, leaving us bereft of the joy we thought we’d have. Finally, tempted to manipulate God: we tend to approach God with if/then propositions. I will do ____________ if you will do ____________ Unfortunately, our shallow thinking in this way indicates our hollow faith that sees God as a means to our ends. God hasn’t revealed himself as the slot machine in the sky or the genie who fulfill our wishes upon being found or properly asked. He is god and we are not. Our requests to him are like a child’s: at first selfish, but as we mature we ask not our will, but his.
Shame: Our past should be viewed through a rear view mirror. We should glance at it once in while. It is important to know where we have come from, but the grace of God can empower us to periodically revisit our failures and shortcomings only as a testimony to the grace of God. If you find yourself driving life by looking to the rear view mirror, you are allowing the condemnation and shame of the Accuser to make headway. Receive forgiveness once again and focus your eyes on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of your faith.
2) Stand firm in the faith
Paul’s encouragement is at the tail end of a letter that begins by calling the gospel of Christ foolishness in the eyes of the world. We’re continuing to find that to be true. Although the gospel of Christ continues to go forth and bring fruitfulness to every place on earth, it is marginalized.
In a season of peace or normalcy, you could be tempted to get lazy with your faith. Quickly our relationship with God through bible study, prayer and reflection can be marginalized.
Today, choose time with God as a priority. Be sure to bolster your faith!
3) Be Strong
A time of peace may lead us towards spiritual atrophy. I’ve found the following activities to strengthen me: 1) Choose to be with someone who has hurt you. Now, this isn’t a suggestion for an abused person to hang with the abuser, but is an invitation to exercise your forgiveness by being around someone who has let you down. I’ve found that the grace of God being born in me has chance to come alive when I’m around people who need it for their actions against me. 2) Get out of normal: take an evening prayer walk or a day retreat to pray and read. Or, fast from social media or a television show. All of these exercises give us space to be strengthened.
4) Be courageous
Courage can be reactive or proactive. We can express courage by choosing to do something brave or by being brave when something comes along. If you’re in a time of peace, this is the time to be proactively brave.
Maybe you’ve held onto a shameful secret for a long time and you need to find a trusted person to confess. Or, perhaps you’ve felt The Lord invite you to learn something new or to create a new relationship. Here is your chance! Go for it!
5) Do it all with love
Love is patient, kind, not jealous…
In a time of peace or relative calm, look to bolster your love for God and others. Write letters or notes or texts of encouragement, take time to listen to a complainer. Find someone is is overlooked or discouraged and choose to brighten their day.
Don’t delay! Make the most of this place or season of relative peace!