by Pete Garcia
I was adrift back then; Without anchor or sail. My happiness was pleasure; My freedom, my jail.
“I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 NKJV)
We all come to Christ at different stages of our life. Some are young, some are old. Some are battle scarred, and some starry-eyed. Our salvation rests not with from whence we came, but to WHOM we came too. Jesus said “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and NO man comes to the Father except by Me.” (John 14:6).
At some point, the Holy Spirit drew us unto Christ and our salvation was sealed into the Lamb’s Book of Life forever. How we rejoiced at the burden of condemnation being lifted off of our formerly damned souls.
What did we do with this new found freedom in Christ? We laughed, we prayed, we studied, and learned. Our eyes were opened to the reality that there is life beyond this life. Worlds and dimensions beyond that which we could scarcely fathom…all of which lie just beyond the reach of our mortality.
“For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah” (Psalm 32:4)
But there came a time, when we learned not so enthusiastically (oh we’ve heard that one before) and we prayed a little less. Old ruts are easy to fall back into, and the path becomes a little less uncomfortable. Somewhere along the way, we start to recognize old familiar territory, and to our flesh, brings some comfort.
As a child, summer was a time of fun and play. But we are no longer children, and work will not wait for cooler temperatures to arrive. The sun beats down mercilessly on all who have to sweat and toil under her harsh rays. As with fire, she is a useful servant, but a cruel master.
It was to this idea that Christ pointed to the parable of the sower and the seed…speaking to those who fell along the stony path. These having no depth to their roots, they were scorched under the sun in all its strength. We Christians also live under the weight of that same sun, but our Root is Christ, and the depths of Him are forever.
Looking back at the summers of our youth, we thought we would live forever. We thought then that we were on top of the world. I spent my summers at a river, without a care in the world. How little did I know then, what I know now. I enjoyed my moment in the sun, because I did not have to toil in her heat. I was living for the moment, and that moment is long gone.
Metaphorically speaking, the world is our sun. It beats down on us relentlessly. It does its best to grind us down. Where can we go to find shade when the world surrounds us? We must seek sanctuary in His word, for it provides both shelter for our souls, and quenches the thirsts that draws us dry each day. The Psalmist David knew all too well where to go in the heat of the day…
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:2-3
These days, I look squarely at the man in the mirror and see in my eyes a life spent doing my own will. I am quick to remind myself of how little I knew back then, as if it somehow justifies the way I lived my life. The scars and the years wear on my soul like barnacles on a ship hull. A constant and aching reminder that many waters travelled, gathers hangers-on.
Where is this liberty I keep hearing about? Where is this freedom? Why do I feel like the same man, on the same boat, adrift and aimless when so many around me have joy and direction? I sought a different view. I sought another way. Surely there is truth and freedom, liberty and purpose to be had if only I could make something fit in this hollow shell, I call my life
It was when I realized that I am adrift because my sail remain furled. I was directing the boat by hand, paddling with my own strength. Only when I relented and opened up my sail so that the Spirit could move me where He needed me to go, did I find that freedom in Christ. It was then that I rested not in my own efforts, but in God’s ability to move me effortlessly and purposely, to the port of His destination.
Many try to wear Christianity as they would their own shoddy clothes. Christianity is not something you can put on Sunday mornings and take off during the week. Although we are clothed in our skin, we do not wear our skin, because it is part of us.
Likewise, a Christian who tries to live as if he or she is not one, will only find pain and misery. That was how I spent most of my life. I did not embrace who I had become, because I had not let go of who I was. Likewise, my liberty cannot come in what I do in my own efforts, but in who is a part of me, or rather, in Whom I am a part of.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)
My rest and my liberty are not tied up in what I have to do for God, but what God has already done for me. It is in realizing that it’s not about me, but about Christ. I realize that I learned this lesson late in life, or in the fall of my life, but it has come exactly when God wanted it too. Like the wise king Solomon, He allowed me to go through my own trials of futility and error, to exhaust all these other choices before coming back to Him.
“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
Things die in the winter. They hibernate and sleep. We bundle up and stay inside. The day begins to lose its light. The sun loses its strength. We know that this present world has turned a corner. We have moved into the final stretch if you will, of God’s plan of final plan of redemption for this dispensation. They say it is always darkest just before the dawn, and we wonder just much longer the night will continue on.
May we, who see the days growing darker spiritually, remember the Hope that lies within us and not lose the faith. May we keep running the race and finish strong. May we all stand strong until that day the Lord calls us up to be where He is. I pray that I can be all that I am exhorting you to be.
We will all experience loss in this life, as well as tribulation. But it is these moments that shape us and mold us for our real life in eternity. It is comforting to know, that this life, no matter how bad it may be, will be the worst we ever know.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18