Last week, the devotion was entitled, “What is Satan trying to take YOUR focus away from?” This week, we are expounding on that… it seems as though these days, things seem to just build and build and build – just the same old things… just the same old struggles… just the same old things that never seem to go away; never seem to get resolved; storms that never seem to pass… Last week, we dealt with how those things can cause us to lose our focus – this week, we want to address the fact that even though we may be tired of going through those struggles and trials, that is no reason to slip back into that pit that we have fought so hard to make it to the mouth of! I happen to be one of those people that people reprimand when I get weary – a Christian woman; a teacher; a minister called by God to encourage and edify others should never lose her focus, right? Wrong. I want this devotion to be very personal because my goal is for everyone to understand that they are not alone in feeling as though the world is crashing down around them from time to time. We are all human and if we were able to be in complete control of our emotions, thoughts, and psychological responses to everything in life, then we wouldn’t necessarily think that we “need” God, would we? If we didn’t all experience situations that forced us down on our knees in prayer, we would never have a reason to call on the name Jesus… we would never see a reason to develop a relationship with Him if we were able to NEVER lose sight of our focus – if nothing ever tested our joy. There is NO ONE who is immune to the struggle – we all have to fight just to keep our focus sometimes. We all have to hit our knees and pray for strength to make it!
James said that we should rejoice even because of our trials. Why? Because they build us – most importantly, they increase our faith, develop our perseverance and endurance, and create a stronger bond between us and God as we learn to lean on Him and actually FIND Him right in the midst of it all. Even though it seems like it’s all just getting worse, now is when I should realize that I’m almost out of the pit – just a few more scrapes and bruises… a few more strains and pulls… a few more shimmies and reaches, and I’m out. Now is the time that it gets the hardest and that it is ESSENTIAL that I NOT lose my focus or I will give up. I’ve been climbing for a while – I’m exhausted, I’m dehydrated, I’m cut and sore… I’m worn out and my muscles are shaking from the force of gravity and the fatigue from overuse and I am struggling just to move.
See, we trick ourselves along the way into believing that it will get easier as we reach the top – as the end of our struggle comes closer, we think things won’t be quite as difficult. We couldn’t be more wrong. Why do I analogize so much? Because it helps to apply my situations to things which help me better understand the course of how everything will flow. Why climbing out of a pit? Because it is exactly what I am doing; not literally, but figuratively. The longer I climb, the more desperate I get… the longer it has been since I had restorative sleep… the more my mind works against me… the more my tendency for quitting increases… the more desperate and alone I start to believe that I have become… the more things seem to move in slow motion. The closer I get to the top, the more I beg myself to let go and just fall. The closer I get to the top, I can’t move as fast or exert as much energy as I did when I began my climb. When I began, I was determined – I started with a steady pace and a lot of adrenaline. However, the closer I get to the top, it seems like I will never make it as I inch my way in the same direction I’ve been climbing all along – and I start telling myself, “You’ve been doing this for all this time and it’s gotten you nowhere. You’re still just climbing. Just give up. You can’t do it. No one has come to save you. No one cares. Why should you?” But that is a lie from the devil. Jesus DID come to save me… and the things I am going through are so that I can have a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him; a more accurate understanding of the nature of God and the limitlessness of His delivering power! He is with me every step of the way because He will never leave me nor forsake me!
We have all had physical experiences – whether it be an extremely long walk, a bike ride, lifting weights, whatever the case may be – where we have realized that toward the end, things get so much more difficult. In most cases, there is no greater pain during the entire process than the pain that accompanies those LAST few pushes toward the end; your mind begins to seem out of touch with the rest of you; seems to work against you – you start feeling as though you can’t do it… you beg yourself to just quit… but then it is all over. And once it’s over, after a little while, it doesn’t even seem like it was all that bad. It’s the same way with spiritual experiences; when you are climbing out of the pit – that last thrust that gets me over the edge and into safety is the absolute hardest part of the entire climb; by that point, I’ve been through so much and put myself through so much mental punishment that it seems impossible to muscle up enough strength to lift myself the rest of the way. If I lose focus – if I take my eyes off Jesus and let my mind wander from the strength God provides – it would be all over for me. What I have to remember is that if I give up now, I will either have to start all the way back over again or I will die. What I am reminding myself right now is that it only seems to be getting harder because it’s almost over. I’m at the mouth of the pit and I am inches away from the Lord pulling me into safety.
Where has my strength come from during this long, steady climb? God.
Where can I expect to get the strength for that last thrust? God.
Who will deliver me and cleanse me and restore me once I am out? God.
Often, we have no problem with sacrifice… our problems are with being obedient. God told us through the Word He inspired which was written in Philippians 3:12-14 that all we have to do is PRESS ON toward the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ. Press on, brothers and sisters. You may not see it just yet, but by faith KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that your breakthrough is coming. You just simply have to finish the climb.