Sink or Swim

(Philippians 2: 12-13)  Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.  For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

No one ever said it would be easy…this pursuit of righteousness that we begin when we choose to live for Christ.  In fact, sometimes doing what’s right is the absolute hardest thing to do.  Sure, there are those who make righteousness and godliness look easy.  My grandmother was one of those people.  She just always did the right thing.  She was kind, thoughtful, reverent, prayerful, considerate, loving, generous, hard-working, accepting, forgiving, and just as Christ-like as a person could ever be.  Her life was a basket that was overflowing with every fruit of the spirit — and it spilled out into the paths of every person who ever had the pleasure of meeting her.  She made it look so easy.

Then there are people like me.  I have always sort of struggled with right and wrong.  I don’t typically see things in black and white, so the line between just seems a bit vague to me.  I’m a questioner and a skeptic, so I never take things as they are presented to me.  I want to know why.  I crave a deeper understanding.  I wanted to be one of those people who just ease into obedience and holiness without question, and I felt bad for having questions and for needing to know so much extra from God.  So many times I have stifled my own reservations and uncertainties, because I felt I should just be able to naturally trust and obey.  But it just isn’t easy for me…

But what are the “results” of our salvation?  Does that equate to ease and perfection?  Does that mean that we are all the same, without questions and struggles?  Of course not!  No!  These “results” are the obvious changes that are taking place in our lives as we go through our metamorphoses in Christ.  They are the things that make us unique individuals who are actively overcoming the battles that we face, both internally as well as on the surface. 

Whether we make it look easy, because it just somehow does come to us fluidly, never making any waves, or whether we are ones who jump in feet first and spend the majority of our swim thrashing and trying desperately to keep our heads above water, we are all in the same ocean together.  It’s a long swim, friends.  We are so blessed to have one another to hold onto when the waters get choppy and the waves overcome us.  We may look out at the vast and endless sea of our lives and think, “How can I do this with no end in sight?”  But God hasn’t called us to know it all — to have the answers we need.  He has called us to jump in, and our only job is to trust and obey, holding onto the anchor that is His word.  We can’t give up when it gets hard, because our lives are a testament to what He can and will do when we obey…so that others may see and know the beauty of this transfiguration that takes place when we offer our lives to Him. 

My life looks nothing like my grandmother’s life.  And do you know what?  That is okay.  It’s great even!  Because God created me to be exactly as I am.  My story will speak to others where my grandmother’s cannot.  My heart can go out to people that my grandmother’s could not.  My life is my own — in all of its frantic, mistake-laden, problematic flailing — it is mine, and I am going to work hard to show the results of my salvation.  When I mess up, I’ll keep on doggy-paddling, backstroking, treading water, or whatever I have to do!  Because I’ve come too far to drown now!

I can promise you this, you may not always want to do what’s right.  Sometimes it just feels good to be bad, because sin is what the flesh craves…day and night…and we tend to give into it from time to time.  However, remember that we are all works in progress.  God is doing a thing within us all — and if we are reverent, obedient, and daily seeking a deeper relationship with Him, then He will be faithful to His word…empowering us with the desire to please Him in every way with our lives.  Without Him, we simply cannot do it. 

It’s sink or swim, friends. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, when it feels like I’m in over my head, when things aren’t easy and I want to give up, help me to remember that I am not alone.  Give me every ounce of strength and desire that I need to keep my head above water…no matter what.  Amen.

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