On our way to Benoni this morning, we were no sooner on the N1 national road when we saw an electronic sign saying further along the N1 there was a serious crash and two lanes were closed and motorists should expect delays. I switched on the radio and almost immediately the news ended and the traffic report come on. The gentleman said there was a crash near the Flying Saucer Interchange and motorist could expect an hour delay. The traffic was snail pace … in all lanes. This would mean getting to my Bible Study more than an hour late. Whether the crash was caused because of the rains I don’t know. We managed to cross from the fast lane over to the left lane and take the Lynnwood Road off ramp, turn left and later right going through Constantia Park, Wingate Park, Elardus Park, passing Rietvlei Damn and eventually onto the R21. By this time it was storming, the traffic was very slow although some drivers wanted to speed. They were slowed down because of the water spray. Eventually, we reached the Bible Study 25 minutes late.
This incident reminded me that Christianity is not always plane sailing. We want a smooth ride through life … we even pray for it … but this is not always how it pans out. I recall doing a 21.1 kilometer race through a game reserve. Part of the course went over a mountain. You could not run or walk … you had to crawl. There were lots of loose rocks … some you dislodged and others the people in front of you dislodged and you needed to negotiate these moving, falling rocks. Then there was a rocky place where you had to climb over rocks before you reached a bridge crossing the river. This bridge was made of rope with wooden slates spaced over the 40 meter bridge. You had to hang on and move slowly … and because other runners were on the bridge it swayed. A scary ordeal. Normally a 21.1 kilometer race is very fast … this one was very slow, full of obstacles, challenges and diversions. That was the traveling picture this morning … drizzle, storm, water spray, slow traffic, jammed lanes, detours … and eventually we reached our destination. The Christian life is like this. Being in Christ is not a license to “travel free and easy journeys and experiences”. If yours is … examine your Christianity! You see …
We have an enemy who is always at work to confuse, corrupt and disrupt our plans and good intentions. Peter reminds us:
1 Pe 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Take note that the onslaught is not against you individually … “your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings”. The enemy attack is orchestrated. There are planned and calculated attacks … see the words “prowls”, “looking for” and “throughout the world”. Never think that the devil, because he is bound by Jesus is toothless and weak. Our enemy is extremely clever and cunning.
2 Cor 11:14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
He is an imitator. Unless you are alert and know Jesus Christ personally, the enemy will hoodwink you into thinking his suggestions to you are in fact that of Jesus. This is why it is vital for every believer to walk in step with the Spirit to discern Truth from error!
Gal 5:25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
We have sinful desires. Far too often the devil gets the credit for our sin. Naturally he is delighted to take the credit … but the truth is that we have sinful desires and these desire when not kept in check will of themselves devise strategies and opportunities to sin.
Rom 7:18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Paul is not making excuses for sin. No … he is exposing the reality of it and how sneaky it gets the better of us. There is a way to deal with these sinful desires though … Peter says:
1Pe 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
The way to abstain from sinful desires is to remember whom you are! You are an alien and a stranger in this world. You don’t belong to this world. You belong to Jesus and His world and your character needs to demonstrate to the world who you are.
We have limited wisdom. Wisdom and knowledge are often confused. Knowledge is knowing something about something but wisdom is translating knowledge into action. We would like to think we are able to turn from sin. We would like to think we are wise enough to escape the clutches of temptation … yet we are not. If David, who wrote so many Psalms and was unparalleled as king and nation builder could say
Ps 51:6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place
after committing adultery with Bathsheba … how much more us? To navigate the pathway across this planet, because we have an enemy, sinful desire and limited wisdom, we need to have the closest possible walk with Jesus to navigate the obstacles in our pathway (my 21.1 kilometer race). At times our Lord might take us on unexpected detours (me avoiding the one hour backup on the N1 National Road) to bring us safely through the storms of life. We need to be alert and focused to discern who is leading us.
Dear Father, help me to understand how treacherous the pathway of life can be and how important it is for me to have a close and dynamic relationship with You to protect me and guide me through all the hardships, trails and temptations of life so that You see me safely across the spiritual Jordan River into Your Land of Glory. Amen.