There are many traps that we snare ourselves in as we walk the narrow road as God’s dear children. I would like to look at some of these as I have found them in my own christian walk.
1. God will never let us get into trouble or tribulation, or, if we are having a hard and dry time then something is wrong.
2. Listen to majority, it is always right.
3. We must serve God or He won’t love us.
4. Surely it can’t be that lonely as a Christian, I should really have more friends since I am a "nice" person.
John 8:44 describes the devil as the father of lies. The above 4 points are lies that he would like every child of God to believe.
6 Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground;
7 Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.
I could stand up here and tell you many stories of how the Lord has provided for our needs and answered many prayers, but regardless of how much the Lord has or hasn’t done for us, He still deserves all the glory, honour, adoration and worship possible in the universe.
My simple testimony is this: The Lord Jesus Christ in His great love saved me from eternal damnation. He extended to me the riches of His grace by dying in my place and clothing me in His robes of righteousness.
Each day that I fail Him, each time that I am reminded of my ugly carnal nature, each time that I strive against sin and the elements of this world, I am reminded that it is by grace that I am saved and not because of anything I can do. I am reminded that even my good works are like filthy rags.
6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
But most importantly, my love for Him grows as I come to terms with just how much it really cost to save me. God hates sin and cannot tolerate it so for the Lord Jesus Christ to become sin for me is just totally beautiful.
Though God has answered many prayers and met many physical needs, the only blessing which really matters in the long term and the only one we should really focus on is our eternal security and standing which was obtained for us with something much more precious than silver and gold. It is too easy to get into the mentality of God being like a "father Christmas" and demanding of Him every whim. Though He is our Heavenly Father and we know that He only gives good gifts to His children, like our earthly fathers, He also denies us many things that in our reasoning seem harmless. It is easy for us to harbour bitterness and hardness of heart when He seems to be silent. It is at these times that I am reminded of who He is and that my salvation should mean more to me than anything else. If He is good enough to save me then the trials and tribulation which He allows for a short period must be endured with patience as His perfect knowledge really can and should be trusted.
Another trap of the Christian walk is that of feeling like we must always be doing something in order for God to be pleased with us, as if we can earn His favour by serving with such a motive! It was during a very difficult time in Malaysia that this song came to me. Unlike many songs which just roll off the tongue without much regard to the real substance, this one was a hard lesson:
(J Stephen 10 March 1996)
When will I learn that Your love is eternal,
Not based on conditions nor what I achieve?
And when will I learn to rest in that knowledge,
Accept my condition when I believed?
Oh Lord, such knowledge is too high,
I cannot attain it!
And Lord, sometimes I wonder why,
I cannot explain it!
And Lord, You're teaching me that I
Am precious in Your sight
And I was born to worship you.
Sometimes I forget and think I can pay you
For all of your grace and power to save.
I'm burdened with serving until You remind me
That I am a son before I'm a slave.
I'm finally learning that You don't grow weary
Of hearing me praying continuously.
It is for this reason that I was created
To be in communion with you endlessly.
One blessing I do want to tell you about is my beautiful wife. Florence was born in east Malaysia in a staunch Roman Catholic family. From the time she was old enough to read, she desired a bible. She was considered the religious nut of the family and was often picked on for her attitude toward Godly things. It seemed that God had His hand on her ever since she was small. When she came out to Australia to study she broke the shackles and by necessity the family ties to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ instead of the Pope, saints and Mary.
We met at Flinders University while we were both studying there and after our degree, returned to Malaysia in the hope that we might reach her family and also for me to meet them. Due to my blindness, they rejected both her and me vehemently! We came back to Australia and got married and we have been continuing to pray for her family.
Life has been extremely difficult as mentioned earlier. There is a cost to following Christ though it seems not many people realise it. There is a cost to being "in the world" but "not of it". there is a cost to casting away the idols of materialism, popularity, self importance and compromise. Both of us (for slightly different reasons) have had to break our family ties because it would mean compromise to keep them. Florence’s family ties are much stronger than mine due to the culture in which she was born. Most westerners wouldn’t think twice to go against their parents’ wishes to marry a blind person, forsake the family religion, give up country, inheritance and security. I had to break my family ties because in keeping them, I would have to compromise my knowledge of God’s truth in order to accept my family’s way of life.
Breaking family ties is a lonely exercise. Giving up inheritance and a fully provided for future for the sake of clinging to God’s way is foolish in the world’s eyes. But if we do not feel the cost of our salvation by what we have to give up then I don’t really think we can appreciate God’s grace. How can we sing about living by faith or loving God or trusting His word if our love, faith and trust are not exercised? Love isn’t love until it is tested, faith isn’t faith if it’s rested and trust doesn’t have meaning until it is invested.
It is probably a good thing that we struggle in this life because if we didn’t, we might get to like this world and take our eyes off the blessed hope which we so eagerly await: the rapidly approaching return of our Lord Jesus Christ to take us to be where He is. It is a pleasant thought to remember the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
1 Chronicles 16:8-12
8 Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.
9 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.
10 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
11 Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.
12 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgements of his mouth;
Jude 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.