I Peter 1:8-9 – 8Though you have not seen him [Jesus], you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with and inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
What amazes me here is that this whole process is accomplished purely on the power and strength of faith. This might explain why, though I have never completely lost my faith (only faltered), I have not grown as much spiritually over the last year or two as I would have liked. I have not had the sort of faith that draws me to my Saviour, that instills within me the joy of my salvation and a renewal of my spirit, let alone an inexpressible and glorious joy.
And something else that stands out to me is that salvation seems to carry with it two separate processes — one that is carried out once with eternal implications, and one that is continually being carried out. The one-time action is the initial acceptance of God’s gift of salvation. The continual process is the working of my faith to constantly reshape me into a child of God, the throwing off of the ‘old man’. So, salvation is both a one-time act and a continual process of transformation.
The battle lines are clearly drawn — two sides, two agendas, one aching pain. On the one side, the old man. On the other, the new man. Some days it is merely a squabble, on others World War III. On the one hand, fierce, intense depression of the black hole variety, threatening to suck my soul from my body, to drain all the color from the world. On the other hand, a gentle, nagging hope, so soft and quiet that I hardly realize that it is there sometimes. Here, a desire to indulge in fleshly pleasures, to feed those pet carnal appetites. But then here, a craving for godliness, righteousness, a relationship with my Lord that actually means something and pours out onto others. This, laziness. That, a desire to work for what is good, knowing that it will involve the deepest pain I have perhaps ever experienced.
The battle lines are drawn. And I am at an impasse.
Life is painful. And the sooner I come to terms with that, the sooner I can get on with the business of living Christly and of fulfilling obligations that I am responsible for. Ultimately, I don’t really like to have to struggle and work hard, and it is especially difficult for me to struggle to improve in the area of my spiritual life. And yet, a big chunk of me desires improvement in this area, to be able to force myself out of bed in the morning to spend some time with God, to be able to actually be a strong spiritual leader for my wife, to defeat the pleasures of the flesh that have this irritating tendency to dominate me — in a phrase, to be a Godly man and husband. And yet the ‘old man’ dominates, inflicts his laziness upon me, and I am powerless against it.
But life is painful. And the funny thing is that I expect it to be otherwise, and so I keep treading water, hoping it will get better of its own accord. Yet, it never does. So, the thing to do is to face the pain, the hardship that goes along with growing, and fight the pain and fear and goes along with daily living, seeking my Savior all the way, and hopefully encouraging others to do the same while I’m at it.
And if I really want to go into the helping profession, then I really best get at it soon, or chance wrecking my whole ministry…..