Somebody once said: “There is no victory without a fight. There is no sunrise without a night. There is no purchase without a cost and there is not a crown without a cross.”
Yesterday I was flicking through the channels on my TV to see whether I could find anything worth watching. There is not much to choose from these days. As I flicked from one channel to the next, my attention was immediately drawn to the image of two eaglets on a nest. Each step we take is ordained by God who knows the end from the beginning, and so I knew right there and then that it was no coincidence I had happened to sit down to watch the TV and flick through the channels at the very instant when such image would appear on the screen.
The eaglets were of a considerable size already and the nest was beginning to feel a little bit small and restricted. The confines of the nest would not allow them to fulfil their full potential, the purpose for which they were destined. The eaglets were nervously and excitedly stepping onto the edge of the nest and instinctively starting to stretch their majestic wings. Something in those animals was calling them to the purpose for which they were gifted with such wonderful tools, and though not quite sure what to do with them, their inner instinct of something far more exciting than the security and warmth of the nest led them to begin to flutter their wings in expectation and wonder of the things to come. As I watched that, I immediately thought about how that principle applies to human beings too, particularly to those who call ourselves Christians.
As we all go about our daily life, as we get bogged down in our jobs, routines, duties and obligations, we sense and know in our inner most being that man was created for a far greater purpose than to sustain himself and his family, to labour incessantly to provide and care for himself and his loved ones. There is in all of us, let’s not deny it, a call deep within, and inner knowledge in our subconscious that there is something in our make up which calls for greater things, sublime and glorious quests. It is like we know we have been blessed with an invisible pair of wings. In the stillness of a sunset, or as we watch the rhythm of the ocean, we remember that there is something inside of us which challenges us to go beyond people’s expectations of us or the limitations we put on ourselves, our mind is filled with all the possibilities of fulfilling long cherished dreams. Though we cannot see these “wings”, we know they are there. Something deep within tells us that there must be more than this. It is in our make up to aim for the heavens, but though gifted with much potential, we would rather remain in the nest, because so long as we remain there, it is us, or so we think, who remain in control of our life.
This picture of the human being who would rather not fulfil the glorious destiny for which he was created and whose wings will never take flight, reminds me specifically of the way so many of us Christians live today. At the core of this tragedy I see a body of people who in order to avoid confronting their fears, taking a risk and fulfilling their calling, have tried to redefine and re-design what the scriptures repeatedly and clearly say with regards to God’s kingdom. Everything about Jesus’ ministry and journey, his teachings, and the fate of all the biblical figures who following in Jesus’ footsteps experienced tests, challenges, persecution, temptations, wilderness and for most even death as a direct consequence of their leap of faith, cries out loud: IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD THE ONLY WAY UP IS DOWN.
When it comes to how Jesus views “victorious living”, there is a clear reversal of the world order which dictates that in order to succeed once has to stand out and push his way around, making themselves heard, seen, accepted, followed and venerated, until such a time when they have reached their goal in life, be it a prestigious job, a prestigious place in society, a considerable salary, an outstanding reputation, an exemplary family, a recognised ministry, etc.
And so like the eaglets, which pushed by the mother eagle will in their first flying attempts fall way down before they can ever reach the heights they were destined for, God’s children are challenged to take that leap of faith; to let go of the security of the nest, and trust in the love of the Father who patiently waits to catch us under his wings when we are about to fall or about to lose perspective and direction. It is sad and even more so tragic that for the majority of Christians today the pull of the flesh is such that we will busy ourselves in many quests that are worthy in our own eyes, which we are convinced will tell us apart from those who do not have Christ in their life, and yet I believe many of us may never get to fulfil fully, to complete the task we were destined for, to grab the joy that was set before us, to reach the same heights as those who having counted the cost, still felt the path set before them was far greater than the very certain risk of pain, rejection, loneliness, suffering and anonymity.
How dare we call ourselves Christians when our lifestyles, our behaviour, the words that come out of our mouth, our thoughts and attitudes deny the truth in scripture that if we are to be partakers of the Lord’s glory, we will also have to be partakers of his sufferings? When outsiders are looking in at the people who claim to have been deeply transformed by the powerful touch of a holy God, all they see is yes abundant blessings pouring into these people’s life, but perhaps the picture they see is not complete because there is perceived victory but no signs of fight or record of battle in that person’s life, a glorious and beautiful crown but no marks on their back from having carried the cross that would ultimately identify them as worthy of wearing such a crown; they see in us the wonderful light of a sunrise momentarily but when they look closely, there is no evidence of the dark night of the soul which preceded such glorious sunrise. As the picture comes across as incomplete, so does our message reach unbelievers’ ears as inconsistent and insincere, and the potential to contribute to the growth of the seed that has been miraculously planted within a man’s soul, soon dissolves into dust to never be gathered again. We want to reach the lost, but as we reach them, our inconsistency only contributes to them becoming lost all over again, only this time the door of salvation has become much narrower and their hearts have hardened all the more because we spoke of a transforming power, a kiln of purifying heat and fire which we ourselves are not ready to go through either. We want to run before we can walk and it is not long before the lack of training and travailing in the secret place, reveals our weaknesses all the more brightly and the promise of a glorious light that would shine on a hill and deplete all darkness around it, vanishes forever into oblivion.
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2