It was Martin Luther King Jr. that said one of my favorite quotes, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Nothing drives a man closer to the Lord then distress. King David said in Psalm 4:1 “…thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.” It is easy for a man to talk all big and bad, but actually going through a real trial by fire is an entirely different story. It is one thing to speak of trusting in the Lord when you’re safely in a boat in calm waters than when you find yourself capsized and treading water trying to keep your head above the waves.
I don’t think you ever really fully see what’s inside a man or a woman until they face a real trial, challenge, or controversy (Or really all of the above for that matter). There is a difference between the historian and the veteran. I remember watching a series on the 101st Airborne Division of World War II and when the soldiers were being interviewed as old men, they could barely speak when talking of certain events and things that they had seen because of how devastating it was for them. However, when the historian got on the screen, he had no problem finding the words to say and talking like he had been there himself, when he never was.
It wasn’t hard for the historian to speak, as it was for the veterans because his lip was not literally trembling as there’s were. Why? Because as he had no real life experience (or testimony) go by. He did not have the genuine testimony of seeing his men, friends, and buddies being shot at, blown up, tortured, or killed right next to him paying the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. His experience was a “head” knowledge. The veterans, on the other hand, had a “heart” knowledge. They experienced first hand what it was actually like to be in war.
There is a big difference between the historian and the soldier just like there is a big difference between those who talk of their Christianity and those who have a real living faith. There are those fake Sunday church-goers who lift their hands during praise and worship on Sunday morning and live like the devil the rest of the week. There are those church-goers who say they love you on a regular basis, but they would not lift a finger to help you move if you asked them.
There are those who talk all big and bad of their trials and act like they have some big impressive testimony, when in truth they have never really gone through any real trial along this “Pilgrim’s Progress” narrow way that leads to Heaven. But then there are those who have real life scars, who have been tested and tried by and in the fire. Just look at Job, David, Paul, Ruth, Esther, or Daniel and they will tell you of their Christian experience. It wasn’t the “God has a wonderful plan for your life” scenario that is so often portrayed in the churches of today. These men and women had a living faith, a real testimony, and they served the true God, not some false creation of a “god” their own imagination that doesn’t exist.
It was William Booth who said, “If you want to change the future, then you are going to have to trouble the present,” but not very many people are willing to persevere through what it takes to get there (Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” – I Peter 1:9). Not very many people are willing to go the distance and follow through all the way with what God has called them to do without turning back and abandoning the call. This is the truth!
This Christian road is not easy. It’s hard and lonely. It’s filled with trials that you will face on a daily basis, but just as gold is refined in the fire, so are God’s children in the same way. Head knowledge alone will get you nowhere with God. God speaks to the heart, not the head my husband likes to say. Real Christianity is not one of those fake smiling preachers faces that you see in your local “Christian Today” magazine. No, look at the Generals of God, they look like they’ve been through hell backward. Their faces look like they have the eyes of an eagle and a look of determination born out of the choice to persevere even amidst suffering and pain. They were those who had hard lives here on earth, but who now forever rejoice in Heaven with their Maker.
If you want to see the God of the Bible, then don’t be surprised when you find yourself struggling to swim waters too deep for you. If you want to find the God of David, then don’t be surprised when a Goliath comes across your path. If you want to see the God of Israel, then don’t be surprised when you are shut up with your back against the sea only for the Lord to part it.
Christianity today is nothing like the true Christianity in the Bible. In order to walk this narrow path you must be strong and courageous and take heart just as Joshua did (Joshua 1:9). It’s hard to see who you really are sometimes, but a true child of God must be formed and fashioned in this way. The Lord is the potter and we are the clay that must be molded into His image. (Isaiah 64:8) So, as you face this Christian journey, do not think something is wrong if you find yourself on a hard road walking alone, just know that the Lord is shaping you into what He can use for His glory. He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5) and will always hold your hand through it all. So take courage and be faithful to Him through trials and challenges will come. In the end, you will absolutely meet the true and living God.