by Pastor Tim Burt
I remember catching my first fish off a dock when I was a little boy. As I pulled it out of the water and maneuvered it onto the dock, it flipped and flopped until it finally jumped back into the water. That image reminds me of me when I was a young Christian. I’ll explain…
When I first became a Christian and looked in the mirror of my heart, I didn’t like what I saw. I struggled to believe God would accept me. I kept disqualifying myself from being a Christian. There is no way God could have forgiven me for everything I’ve done wrong. And I’m still sinning even though I don’t want to! I really struggled to believe God could have washed that all away!
I hadn’t really comprehended the concept of grace yet. The life I was trying to leave behind had shaped me into a worldly, shallow, selfish, and immature person. I didn’t yet know exactly what a Christian should look or behave like, but I was sure I was incapable of it. The more I read God’s word, the more I viewed myself as an old building that needed to be completely demolished and rebuilt from the ground up—only I didn’t know how to accomplish that, nor believe it was possible! I was continually told that God loved me and that Jesus took the punishment for my sins upon Himself. I accepted that as truth. I received Him in my heart. I believed what He did for me. But I struggled. Wasn’t I now supposed to look and act like a Christian? Inside I was thankful beyond words, yet fearful of still being the same person I had been prior to committing my life to Christ—worldly, shallow, selfish, and immature. Like that fish on the dock, I would continually flip and flop over whether I was truly a Christian or not.
In my efforts to become more Christ-like, I spent a great deal of time meditating on verses from the Bible, especially Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV), which says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct thy paths.”
These verses taught me one of the important lessons that I would learn and apply over and over again as a growing Christian. When I rested on the truth of these verses, which are the promise and instruction of God, and trusted them, I would be fine. But when I intellectually tried to figure out things that the Holy Spirit had not yet revealed to me, and I was not mature enough in the Lord to understand, I would struggle with unbelief and doubts about God’s acceptance of me. I would flip-flop! When I relied on my feelings as to whether I felt like a Christian, I would flip-flop! But when I steadied myself on the truth of God’s promise and instruction and trusted them, I would be fine.
Hebrews 3:14 (NKJV) says, “For we have become
partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.” The confidence that we are to hold on to is the unfailing love and saving grace of Jesus Christ, who presents us as washed and holy in His righteousness before God. The word steadfast is translated from a Hebrew word meaning immovable like a rock. If you’ve ever seen a cement pillar under construction, you may have noticed that they put steel cables through it to strengthen it. When we lean on God’s promises, they are like the steel cables that run through our faith and help steady us. They make us immovable in our faith so that we won’t flip-flop in the promises of God. Over time, as we learn and mature in God’s word, they help steady us and make us steadfast like the pillar of faith we desire to be.
I’ve now been a Christian for 46 years and can look back with hindsight. Was my heart steadfast, trusting in the Lord? Was I shaken when it looked like things would never change? I’d love to say that I was like that pillar, but I remembered times I’d struggle, wondering if I would ever be pleasing to God. I struggled wondering if I could ever become the kind of husband, father, and leader I believed God’s word exhorted me to become. If I leaned on whom God said He created me to be and who I was in Christ, I made steady progress in my transformation as a Christian. If I tried to make it happen in my own strength, I’d often fail and start to flip-flop because it’s not something we can do in our own flesh. On God’s path for us, we become who He wants us to become only if we lean on His promises in faith and not on our own efforts. Leaning on and having confidence in His promises is what we are to be steadfast in! And as we read, God wants us to hold onto our confidence steadfastly until the end! It is our faith in Him and His promises—not in ourselves or our own efforts that keep us steady so that we won’t flip-flop. And that will never change! We’ll always fall short to some degree! So, practice it now! Steady yourself in your faith in what He has done for you, not in what you are able to do in yourself.
The beauty of this all is the faithfulness of the Lord. He is faithful! As 1 Corinthians 1:9 NKJV reminds us, “God is faithful, by whom you were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” The Lord is faithful to His promises and is the source of my strength and yours forever!
2 Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil.”
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In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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