Monthly Archives: May 2015
“For thus says the One Who is high and lifted up, Who inhabits eternity, Whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would grow faint before Me and the breath of life that I made. Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry, I struck him; I hid My face and was angry, but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart. I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him…” – Isaiah 57:15-18.
WE ARE CALLED and drawn by grace and it is none other than this that has made us what we are today and what we shall be tomorrow – the perfection of Christ’s image in our souls and bodies. God’s unmerited grace is a profound mystery; none of us can fathom or exhaust the many facets of such a wonder of God’s benevolence that overflows beyond what we can never fully comprehend.
We are not all alike even though we stand in the same grace; some are noticeable and quick in growth of God’s grace, while others are slower and less conspicuous, nevertheless the seed of God abides and continues to grow. Why is it that some Christians shine brighter than others and why is it that another burns more dimly; why is it that one displays the fruit of the Spirit in a more distinguished way than others? There are a hundred and one answers for this scenario, but at the end of the day we will admit that we do not fully know, like as Paul said, “I know in part; then I shall fully know…” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Some of those who are slower in growth of the fruits of the Spirit may tend to display a void of God’s saving grace, nevertheless that does not always rule out that God has indeed begun a good work to which He has promised to complete.
What about those who backslide? Some don’t believe that a Christian can fall into such a condition – really? That depends upon your perspective of spiritual decline, for that is exactly what it is, a declining spiritually. If your love for God is less than yesterday or your prayer life is not as fervent as last month, you can be sure you are not as full of the Holy Spirit as you ought to be. The oddity of viewing backsliding in such a wrong way! There are, of course, different degrees of digressing spiritually; some may sin not as flagrant as those who fall grossly into it, but we must always remember this – and it should always be our constant attitude – that it is only because of God’s grace that some do not fall in a shameful manner.
If God’s grace has truly commenced the saving work of His hands in your soul, be sure of this that you are His possession; you are not your own. You might backslide, however short or long, but you will be drawn back to the Shepherd’s side; you shall return unto the Fountain of life instead of drinking from other polluted cisterns; you shall be utterly emptied to be refilled; you shall be broken to be rebuilt.
This reminds me of restoration work with wood. Imagine two beautiful wrought iron benches with wooden, slats that over time, having been exposed to the outside elements, have become terribly worn. They have become unfit for seating and are in desperate need of repair. One may be inclined to discard and dispose of the entire thing and yet another may have a goal and vision of seeing a restored finished work, more beautiful than its former state. A tremendous amount of hours, care and patience are needed to make this vision a reality. First, worth must be seen and the workman will soon detect, after close examination, whether or not it is worth the effort; will these one inch thick slats of wood still have inner strength to hold up after stripping the worn and rotten outer edges? If so, he begins a long and somewhat tedious process of stripping old flaking paint and soft wood until he reaches where life and durability is seen. After that comes sanding to the point that all you are left with is core healthy wood. They may look a little thinner than what they originally were and there will be some gouges and holes where all the rotten wood had to be removed, but then comes the rebuilding, filling and shaping to reinforce those bench slats, followed by additional sanding until they are fit for priming and top coating with the chosen colour. New bolts, nuts and screws are purchased to worthily match the transformed lumber, along with the newly sprayed wrought iron. Restored beyond their former glory, there is sheer pleasure and joy in salvaging what once looked hopeless and beyond repair, but now has priceless character and a maturity that speaks of richness that only time can give.
It is often like that with the backslidden Christian. I liken the rotten outer edges of the wood to the Christian that has grown stale, stagnant and weak because the world has had sway in his or her heart for some time. Because of God’s love and covenant, they are drawn back to Himself, but hardly with ease. Through such drawing will come a cruel stripping where one feels reduced to nothing and then comes the deep sanding and cleaning until such contrary ways to the Spirit are renounced and removed. Many deep voids will be sorely felt, but these voids will be empty of useless debris and the rottenness that clogs the flow of new life; these holes are now ready to be filled with a reinforcing that will build, bind and complete the healing, which more often than not is a lengthy process if much damage has occurred. The healing and restoration that takes place brings out a depth of beauty that wasn’t seen before. It is seeing, knowing and feeling God’s grace that binds the heart closer to Him and so causing one to delight to walk in His ways.