1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
1 Peter 4:1,2
Know that in our Christian walk, we are not alone. Know on this walk that it is promised already that we have a seat at a glorious banquet set for us in heaven (a). Understand the width of the path on which we walk. Be assured that God is with us.
I have had many seasons in my life. There is one that I particularly loathed, yet am oddly fond of now for many reasons. Winter. It was a time when life was dismal and darkness coddled my restless soul. I was in the chains of captivity and through deception, I believed I was enjoying a well deserved freedom. Yes, I was paying my dues in life and deserved this freedom. I co-existed with other freedom seekers on what was a ship of fools. At the helm of this ship, was Satan himself. There was no freedom, but there was a Watcher with a keen interest from above. There was a Father from above who watched me until the dimly lit Sun of a cold winter was eclipsed with a lesser light, the dim, dying glow of self-reliance. It grew dark, and a restless soul became fatigued.
This was a time when I finally ran out of myself. Self-reliance was a cold, rushing river-ever fleeting. It enveloped and in its confines, I could no longer be sustained and I grasped, in a panic, at straws at the river’s edge that eluded me – trying to hold me captive. It hurt. I wept. My Watcher watched over me already knowing that His perfect plan was in play. I was not suffering in vain, but suffering because I saw deception face-to-face.
I escaped the river. It was cold and each exhale was a cloud of my old self. In the distance there was a cottage. I saw inside a warm fire, a glow of welcome, of beckoning. In these moments the purpose of destination is of less importance than fixing current pain. But in the destination was a hope previously unseen. In the glow was a face with guardian eyes and outstretched, scarred hands. The One who knew pain asked me to tell Him of mine. I went toward the glow across the snow.
My bare feet stung as I walked across the hoarfrost covered grass to the warm light a short distance away. This inviting cottage with the warm glow of a fire shining through the windows beckoned me to walk a prickly walk, numb, into the heart of God – Jesus beckoned. I was warmly welcomed. His response was not of loud fanfare, it was a quiet serenity. A nodding compassion. A lucid moment. The changing of my seasons. I hurt. I wept. A new man was brought into the world.
I needed the pain of the hoarfrost winter. To reach the refreshing springtime. There was Jesus. He said “Follow me” (b). I heeded His words not even knowing the path I had chosen or the eternal destination.
I continue to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It is my choice not to be quiet about this. He has commissioned me to spread the good news of His death. Yes “good news” and “death”. A paradox of what we deem good and what we deem not good. Jesus died so that we who believe, would live. It is good news that we were in utter deception and in one instance transformed into full life through God’s grace. He gave us that which we did not deserve. Remember. But as Jesus said we are to take up our own cross – but we are crucified with Him (d). It will hurt and we will weep. But such tears are for new reasons now. The tears that fall from the ducts in my eyes fall to the ground in victory. They are joyful tears. During this season that is my walk in Christ, I now endure. Remember God watching me in my winter of frolicking discontent? How much more does He watch now that I am in His flock? I assure you. He not only watches, but holds onto me tightly. I flail no more. My trials are promised to refine me (c)
Remember the pain Jesus suffered in His enduring of the scourge. One word of Scripture meaning so much. What can we learn? As sin is defeated through the scourging of Jesus, we remember death is too defeated and in our remembrance of our own pain, we join in the victory over sin.
“…for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,…”
When we follow Jesus, we accept that we too will carry our cross. We are to endure trials in the promise of the Lord’s word. We are in the flesh and trials we will have. We will endure. Even now I endure! With the promise that as I suffer, I have ceased from sin. God is telling me! I listen to Him. It is not for punishment of my hoarfrost winter, it is to remind me that He refines me and that I have victory over sin. I have ceased my sinful nature. I will be tempted back but I will resist the enemy because even as I weep in a pain that is for a correction, refining process, I walk in victory.
I was told, I may not always “see” this victory, but be assured that God is watching us and knows the glorious outcome. Prepare your heart for the banquet. Endure these trials in our flesh. Know that the stinging of bare feet on the hoarfrost will transform to the warm washing of feet of those we now minister too. Think first of God, then others. Love in that order. Then be satisfied in a joy unsurpassed. God is with you. God is with me.
May 27, 2012