“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).
I’ve been a born again Christian now for ten years. A decade of my life has been spent walking with my God. The last five of those ten years have been hard. Crushing, at times. I often reflect on these years, longing for the earlier times, the easier times, when everything was new and beautiful. Before the ugly realities of sin and suffering darkened my door. But I know it is part of the progression of taking up your cross and following Christ.
Yet, I can’t help but feel I am doing something wrong. Particularly in my devotional times. I had years when I would spend daily morning time with the Lord in His Word. This was my most favorite time of day, and activity. I love the Word of God. I see fruit in my life now from those years. I wouldn’t have survived some of the things He has called me to walk through without His Word written on my heart.
I was praying about all this the other day. I really long for that former time; the same closeness and time with the Lord as before. This verse spoke something new to me, “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).
I felt God releasing me from the guilt and lie that our lives with Him must always harken back to what they once were. The very nature of the Holy Spirit is change as He leads us faithfully into all truth. For the first time, I could see how pining for the past might undermine me in the present. If I am always saddled with my own, former expectations, what might I miss about what God is saying or doing with me right now, today?
Those three: faith, hope, and love. These are the three eternal things God is working out in my life as I walk with Him. I heard God say, “faith produces work”, “hope inspires endurance”, and “love prompts labor”. I am in the season now of working out what God has worked in. Produce, endure, labor for God in the field of His Kingdom, as He directs.
Those early years were an important foundation. Like I said, I see them now in many ways, all the time. But that’s not the season or place God has me today. Those years were more about input, and these years are more about output. Yes, we must stay close to the Lord in Word and prayer – always. But that doesn’t not mean there will never be change in our devotional time, or spiritual disciplines.
I hope today someone reading this is helped by a same sense of relief and release. Stop beating yourself up because your relationship with God is changing. It is supposed to change. Stop feeling guilty over not doing the exact same things you once did. You are not in that same season now. Listen for the Lord of Glory to speak to you this day about His harvest. The work is plentiful, the workers few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, what work, endurance, and labor He is asking of you today. And then set out to do it with all your heart. Let go of the past, embrace the now.
“You did not choose me, but I chose and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last” (John 15:16). Faith, hope, and love are the lasting fruit of the Kingdom of God. These three remain. They are the out working of all that God has worked in. Let us rise to the task at hand this day. Hand to the plow, looking forward, not back.