Pain. I know something about that. Not a lot, at least not compared to some living in nations where they are persecuted for their faith, or compared to some who are dying of cancer, or are crippled, or treated as a sub-human by a spouse. But I know a little of it.
It seems to me that pain is one of the things we rarely hear about in a sermon. Yesterday, to my pastor’s credit, it was mentioned, and it was forwarded, again, and again. I’d like to give my thoughts about it, and include some of the things he said. Keep in mind that for a pastor to talk about pain and danger the way my pastor did is not necessarily viewed as a good thing by most.
One thing he said that really struck me was, if you wanted a safe life, then you may not want to know God. After all, God is in the business of stretching us, causing us to call out to Him for help, and CHANGING us. None of that sounds very safe to me. Does it sound safe to you?
Safe, to me, is a walk in Point Beach State Forest. It’s riding a bicycle on training wheels, swimming with a huge float tied around you. It’s doing what I am best at, and never doing anything else. Safe is staying within myself, and never inviting anyone else inside again. Safe…is death.
I am a risk taker. At least, I have been since I met Jesus. Prior to Him, I used to do what I was best at, and I was very good at it. The trouble is, I was missing LIFE!! Now, even though I still do things I am good at, I also venture into areas I am not good at. As God stretches this closed off heart, I find myself wanting to resist, and yet also wanting to follow.
I am hazarding into areas I have not been in some time. Talk about dangerous, talk about fear. There is always going to be fear in our lives. I am sick of living as though I am dying. I want to live as though I am eternal, and so I will go where God leads, and if it is dangerous, and although I may hesitate, you will always find me choosing to follow the path God has laid out for me, regardless of the danger, to my body, or to my heart.
Life is full of opportunity. I don’t want mine to be missed opportunities, especially opportunities for joy. There is no joy without great risk. Pain? I have lived through it, and I have found that the hope of joy is a greater attractant than fear is a deterrent.
We live for the Lord, and because we do, this is a dangerous life. There is going to be trouble for us, and there is going to be pain and sorrow. There may even be persecution. As we quietly go about our lives, trying to live peaceably amongst man, we will called out for our faith, ridiculed for our beliefs, and gossiped about because we are different. And if these things are not happening in our lives, we can either thank God for sparing us for a time, or wonder if our walk is salt, or if it is bland.
Christianity is not a popularity contest. It is at times a lonely, desperate struggle up a sheer mountain face without any rope except the One we cannot see. We are already in danger, we are not promised a safe life. There are risks, and I will take them, because I trust in God.