Monday, March 28, 2005

Get on Board

The other day we were discussing if the trials that God allows a Christian to go through become harder (more painful) as you mature as a Christian. The reasoning behind this, in essence, was that it takes more and more to "get your attention." While this may be true, in and of itself, I don't think that it tells the whole story. I will illustrate with a personal example.
For some time now, I have felt like God was working in my heart (reflected in my desires) and in my circumstances to take me to a certain place. It’s as if He is driving a train that will take me far outside of my comfort zone in my service to Him. I now have two options and they will both carry me to my destination. The "train" is not just limited to Christian service; it could be a period of trial and testing or anything or anyone that God chooses to bring into our lives. Since I gave my life to Christ when I was saved, I don't have the option of not going, I only have the option of how I will board the train.

One way to board the train is at the station, before the train ever pulls out. Through faith and total surrender you can accept God's invitation to board the train. While you are riding in the train you are at peace and fellowship with God. You are totally focused on Him and allowing Him to live His life through you. He will work in you and through you to carry you to your destination. The only thing you need to do while riding in the train is to slide into a nice comfortable chair and rest while God works. Now, I am not referring to rest and comfort in a physical sense, I am referring to rest and comfort in our relationship to God and His will.

Through lack of faith and surrender you may choose not to board the train at the station. This brings us to the other way to board the train. You can stand on the tracks as the train is coming through. In this case you board the train much like a bug boards a car, flattened on the windshield. Although you are now aboard the train and God is accomplishing His purpose of carrying you to the destination, you aren't exactly comfortable. Are you? It is painful riding a train in this way. But God, in His goodness, even has a purpose for you boarding the train in this manner. To bring you to the point where you can do nothing except have faith and surrender to His will. Once you surrender, He scrapes you off the windshield and brings you inside the train and seats you in that same comfortable chair while He works. As God works, you sit back and relax, in total peace, and wonder to yourself, "Why in the world did I not get on the train at the station?"
It is not that the trials get harder as we mature as Christians; it is that each of us has areas of our lives that are harder for us to surrender to God than others. The harder that area is to surrender, the more difficult and painful it will be to surrender it to God. We want to be in control of our own lives and we think we are in control, even while we are flattened on the front of the train being carried somewhere we don’t want to go.

When you were first saved maybe it was easy for you to give up drinking, while for someone else it is a continuous struggle lasting years. We may even look down on that "drunkard" as being a weak Christian or maybe "not a Christian at all." Yet, at the same time, there are things in each of our lives (pride, envy, a critical spirit, etc) that we have not fully surrendered to God. God doesn't just want you to surrender the things that are easy to give up; He wants your total surrender to His will. How painful that total surrender is for you depends on how you board the train. Jesus, while He was on earth, chose to board the train at the station and lived in complete dependence and obedience to the Father. I believe that, to Jesus, no trial He endured was any more difficult than any other trial because He was completely surrendered to the will of the Father.

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