Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Monday, September 22, 2014

It's Not An Easy Road

There's an old song that I never hear anymore called "It's Not An Easy Road." It isn't one of those feel good songs that lift your spirits and make you want to dance and shout. In fact, the song is a bit of a downer, and I know of people who intensely dislike the song. The words are:

1) It’s not an easy road we are travelling to heaven,
For many are the thorns on the way.
It’s not an easy road, but the Savior is with us,
His presence gives us joy every day.
No, no, it’s not an easy road.
But Jesus walks beside me and brightens the journey,
And lightens every heavy load.
2) It’s not an easy road; there are trials and troubles,
And many are the dangers we meet.
But Jesus guards and keeps, so that nothing can harm us.
And smooths the rugged path for our feet.
3) Though I am often footsore and weary from travel;
Though I am often bowed down with care.
A better day is coming when home in the glory,
We’ll meet in perfect peace over there.

  And whether we want to admit it or not, if we are truly living for Christ and not for ourselves. it isn't an easy road. No, it isn't a drudgery, and there are days we will be on the mountain, but one can't be on the mountain unless one puts the effort into climbing that mountain. Most of us sit around and wait for God to remove mountains instead of trying to climb it. We want an easy religion that costs us little, if anything, and avoid the idea of carrying a cross or denying ourselves of anything. People like the Olsteens focus on being happy and having it all.

  Yet Jesus wants our all.

  Living the Christian life can be frustrating sometimes. I look at some people and they seem to have it so easy. They don't seem to have a struggle or battle, don't seem like they had to give up anything to follow Jesus. And then there's me.

  A young man posted this in a Facebook group this morning that I am a member of:
Would appreciate prayers as I sort out feelings of loneliness right now. Woke up yesterday morning with an intense longing to have someone next to me, then the pain of realizing that, in my current state, there was no way that would be okay. That just left me angry and frustrated. Been feeling down the last two days because of it. Thanks.
  There are people all across the world wanting someone to love, but for various reasons that cannot happen. Some have physical issues and deformities that scare off possible suitors. Some are divorced and believe Jesus really meant what He said about remarrying after being divorced. Some are serving Jesus and just have no one around that fits in with what God wants for their lives. Some are living a life of being attracted to the wrong gender, and serving God is more important than embracing their gay identity and picking love and a relationship with a person over a relationship with Jesus.

  For these, and many others, this Christian life isn't an easy road. There are days we are like the young man I referred to above. He is a young man dealing with same-sex attraction. There's time and hope that he can change enough to marry a woman and make it work. Others have. But that isn't a guarantee. Others have twisted Scripture and profess to be a Christian while living a life contrary to what God says.  That's the easy road.

  Carrying a cross and denying ourselves has been turned into "I want", "I believe", "We are not under the law, but under grace", and other similar ideas and phrases.

  But being a Christian is going to cost us. It may not mean living a single lonely life among a world of married people and people in dating relationships, but it may be that. That's what it means for me. Would I like to be married/have someone of my own to love and love me? Of course I would. I get tired of asking for a table for one. I ache when I see couples holding hands and fathers holding hands or carrying their children. There have been nights I've cried myself to sleep. 

 But I made a choice. A choice to follow Jesus and not what comes naturally. For me, that means a life of singleness. For me it was a choice between my faith and my desires. I cannot have both. So for me, singleness is a price I must pay for being a Christian. Is that a lot? Yes. Is it hard? It is harder than most people can imagine.

 Singleness is a high price to pay for being a Christian, but many others have paid a higher price. For many, being a Christian and giving Jesus their all has cost them their families, their health....... their lives.

  That is why, although I try not to judge or be critical, I have a problem with people who claim to be Christians, yet live by the school of thought that they have the right to do anything they want. They do nothing different from the world, they do nothing that makes them stick out or inconvenience themselves in any way.

  Christianity isn't about rules. It is about a relationship. But if we are truly in a relationship with Jesus, it is going to change our lives. It will inconvenience us at times. It will make us stick out and be different. It isn't easy. But carrying a cross and denying ourselves isn't easy. It isn't about our happiness and comfort. It is about pleasing God and living for Him, not for our desires or what we want to thing is OK and good for us.

  The song I quoted has its gloomy parts, but it also has hopeful parts:
But Jesus walks beside me and brightens the journey,
And lightens every heavy load.

but the Savior is with us,
His presence gives us joy every day

A better day is coming when home in the glory,
We’ll meet in perfect peace over there.

  Happiness isn't guaranteed. An easy road isn't guaranteed. But peace and joy through it all are promised, and that Jesus will bring us through it.

 That is the hope of being a Christian. Serving Jesus isn't a guarantee that we are going to have an easy life, that everyone will like us, that we will have someone to love and plenty of money. But it does guarantee that we have a Savior who became a man and went through the same stuff and temptations we go through, and that He will always be there for us and never forsake us.

  Being a Christian isn't a hard road 24/7 for most of us, but neither is it an easy road 24/7 for any of us. And it it is, maybe it is time for a spiritual checkup.

  It is indeed not an easy road, but it is oh so worth it.

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