Those of us who’ve served the Lord for many years have pretty much seen it all. I’ve been there, done that, bought the tee-shirts, made a quilt of all the tee shirts and then burned the quilt. And then buried the ashes in the backyard. And then refused to go in the backyard. You get the picture. I am convinced that one of the enemy's best strategies against older believers is a war of attrition--just pick, pick, picking at us about what's wrong with ourselves, everyone and everything else until we're completely demoralized and give up. I confess that more than once I have worn down into bitter agreement with the scoffers in Malachi, "it is futile to serve God." (Mal. 3:14)
It's incredibly easy to get over-focused on the never ending parade of unmet expectations, personal and church issues, as well as general discontent bred by our 'me first' culture. Not to mention the daily news. By the time you're my age, mainly we're seeing that the world doesn't work so well. Nor my eyesight, hearing, memory and digestion. In the face of so many issues demanding attention, we can lose sight of the Lord and lose hope.
And then there's the church. As we age, youthful optimism fades and a number of different churches have been attended. One can definitely lose faith in the church as an institution--or come to believe the church is an institution...like a nut house. Sorry, but if you've been a practicing believer for a long time, there is no way you haven't seen the ugly side of church life. But because the church is made up of broken, fallen people (Me! Me! It's me!), how could I expect it to be anything other than a broken institution?
But I recently read something that has sparked hope in me. My disappointment with the way things are may actually be a reflection of longing for the heavenly reality--the way things ought to be. God has promised that one day things will be set straight. We will be without spot or blemish. He will purify the church into a glorious bride dressed in white linen as for her husband. And we get new bodies (Yay!). So instead of weariness and depression at the long, long siege warfare waged against us, I can see my dismay at the gap between what is and what should be differently. I can allow it to jar me into remembering that God intends to close that gap. That puts everything in a different light, because what God intends is not only possible, it will happen. But to keep despair at bay, I must remember to keep my eyes focused on Him. Not on the mess all around me.
Ultimately, the relentless onslaught the enemy uses to wear me down is like a cloud of gnats buzzing around my head. Irritating, but not dangerous. The danger is taking my focus from the Lord. That I actually come to believe that the enemy is winning. That there is no hope. That I may as well retire from the battle, lay down and wait for God. No! When the tension of 'now, but not yet' disturbs me, I want to long for the coming greater reality, while remembering that we are still in process. And then look with faith to God to receive strength to go on.
I am pleased that hope is growing once more, as I refocus on Jesus and choose to remember that what I see all around me is not the final answer. Though the process is not pretty, what we have yet to see will be more marvelous than our wildest imaginings.
"Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:25-26 Amen.
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