“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” – Galatians 2:20
Christ died once for all! By God’s grace, all who have faith in the substitutionary death of Jesus have eternal life. This is an accomplished reality. But Paul’s declaration, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” is encouragement to an ongoing process. At the moment in which saving faith is worked in us, Christ lives in us. The rest is a lifelong process of maturing, as we daily die to self, so that the life of Christ might show forth in us.
Some of us have been on this faith and life journey for much of our lives, others have begun more recently. Regardless of the length of the journey, we all begin with enthusiasm and great intentions. In spite of this, Scripture is full of examples of the faithful who “take three steps forward and two steps back.”
St. Francis DeSales, wrote these words about 400 years ago “Whatever happens, abide steadfast in a determination to cling simply to God, trusting in His eternal love for you; and if you find that you have wandered forth from this shelter, recall your heart quietly and simply.”
I smile every time I read “if you find you have wandered forth.” It’s more appropriate to say “when,” because every one of us does. The longer I am on this journey, the more readily I recognize when I have “wandered forth.” Instead of beating on myself, though, I have learned, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to “recall my heart quietly and simply,” and get back to the priority of personal solitude with Jesus. Perhaps the most significant “recall” recorded in Scripture is found in Joshua 24. Having recalled God’s gracious acts since Abraham, Joshua declared those well-known words: “Choose for yourselves this day,” “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Are you in a period of strong commitment or a period of “wandering forth?” Wherever you may be, write the words of Paul in his first letter to Timothy (1:15-16) on an index card and keep it with you to look at often. Meditate on these words “in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” Then pray what the Spirit of Jesus may lead you to pray in response to God’s word. Consider praying the words from John Baillie’s, A Diary of Private Prayer, (evening of the 13th day): O Heavenly Father, give me a heart like the heart of Jesus Christ.
(Written by Rev. Walt Waiser from Pastor Mirly’s Pastor to Pastor)