Yesterday I got the privilege of escorting a friend. In spite of accelerating health problems, she maintains the attitude of gratitude. Of course, I let her know what an encouragement she is. She informed me it doesn’t come naturally; she learned it from another. In fact, she had observed both a “victim” and a “survivor,” and she tries to emulate the latter.
She did mention that her survivor friend, too, had to learn this stuff: at first she struggled with the devil. I responded that, though I don’t have health problems (yet), I have endured things—and I must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We three survivors testify: We can choose to have joy, keep promises, forgive others, and serve God—even when we don’t feel like it. The ticket is actively taking focus off of self and gazing at God. He Will Prevail.
These are the building blocks of sanctification (our Savior taking away our sins). It’s growing, bearing fruit, and hopefully finishing well?
Why not—right now—work out our exit strategy? This is usually related to military or business, but it pertains to the pilgrimage. Here’s the definition: “At best, an exit strategy will peg a withdrawal to the achievement of an objective worth more than the cost of continued involvement.” [I’ll pause while you re-read that.]
Oh, don’t get me wrong: I’m not planning my demise. But my friend and I thought of loved ones with a skewed To Do list: one came to say she believes late in life but has not yet experienced victory; another told others he committed to Christ but his first slip-up ended tragically; another dances one day and medicates the next; another is frantically reassembling the shambles he’s made of things. We pray for these dear people: they’re wrestling with the devil.
Oh, that we would read the Scriptures in our closets—to make us awake to the problems sin brings, the huge thing that God’s forgiveness really is, and the assurance that God gives us power—even over ourselves.
Time to close. But I’d like to share with you some of the questions I’m asking these days:
Where am I following Christ?
Where can I take someone into the trenches?
—Why do I do the things I do?
—Why do I go to the places I go?
What am I building that will remain?
What have I built that needs to be torn down?
—When am I bringing the Word?
—When will what I’m planting bear fruit independently?
Who are being changed for having known me?
Who do I need to help strengthen for the long haul?
—How will this year be different from the last?
—How can I pray better toward these ends?