“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Last year, I developed and wrote my first crochet design pattern, “Precious Hearts.” The website that I chose to submit my pattern to for publication had strict guidelines. In publishing a crochet pattern, the difficulty for acceptance was extreme. Thankfully, they had a template, which I thought I had carefully followed. Imagine my surprise when my design was rejected. Why? The pattern has four variations in size, and I only included the required yarn amount for the primary option.
The only accurate way for me to know the exact amount of yarn required for the other three variations was to crochet each option. The company has a team of three to four testers that crochet every pattern before giving approval. They put your pattern to the test with a pass or fail outcome. It took several attempts to determine an exact amount of yarn for the three variations of the pattern. But, within one week, I received a congratulations email, “Your design pattern has been published.”
When I submitted my design, I anticipated receiving an email that my hard work paid off. The disappointment of rejection caused me to put forth the extra effort to meet the company’s requirements. Until I fulfilled the guidelines, I would be the only person who knew about my pattern.
The Level of Difficulty in Following Christ
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
Our walk with Jesus as His disciples is the most challenging assignment we will encounter. Yes, we understand that Salvation is a gift, not based on our merits, but we fail to realize that our lives will include continuous testing of our faith and obedience. Our greatest enemies are Satan and Self. Each of us suffers from an Internal battle of Me versus God. As a disciple of Christ, we must be faithful and obedient to God. “Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14).
We can only wait on God when we obey His commandments and directives. In our weakness, we cannot follow Jesus with 100% of our hearts if we do not possess faith and obedience. The irony is that we have confidence in people and institutions. We adhere to employers’ policies, an academic syllabus, and the laws of our governments. Yet, we readily place ourselves in opposition to God [which results in spiritual predicaments] because we pursue our desires, which results in disobedience to God.
Greatest Obstacle: Over-confidence in ourselves. In humility, we confess that “We want what we want!” Because we have accepted worldly principles, we are desensitized to the risks involved in decisions without God. We receive encouragement from unbelievers to live the life that will make us happy. Many are willing to exclude God from their lives by chasing their dreams. Have you ever made a choice and then had the great expectation that God would rain His blessings on your desire?
Our salvation is a 1:1 relationship with Jesus Christ. Where do we stand in faith and obedience to God? Surrender and submission of our will require much Faith and dutiful Obedience. Our struggle takes fasting, much prayer, and heartfelt supplication. Human effort is required before Divine intervention takes place.
Our desires, negative memories, forgetfulness, and unthankfulness produce a lack of faith in God. The results of not trusting God: A life of worry and frustration without peace or joy. Through the Holy Spirit, God warns us of the wages of disobedience and faithlessness. He uses the Scriptures, our Pastors, and the community of believers–who have experienced the same struggles to redirect us when we are no longer on the Path of Righteousness.
How do we know that we are not in alignment with God? Our Bible study, prayers, and church attendance develop Phariseeical tendencies–just everyday routine habits. “Let your will be done in my life” is not included in your daily prayers. We avoid those who are true disciples of Christ. Our relationship with God rapidly declines. The people we grow close to [who are unequally yoked] are not living as if heaven is their destination.
If we must follow earthly rules and regulations that keep us within established boundaries, then God’s expectations of His commandments are given to us on a pass or fail basis. Grace and mercy are abundantly given. Even so, know that God is not intrusive. He watches us turn away from Him as evidenced by our lifestyle choices. After a time of ignoring His admonitions and warnings, He turns us over to a reprobate mind. Yes, we receive God’s love, grace, and mercy as unmerited gifts. Still, we are not to abuse our free gifts.
A heart-to-heart relationship with the Precious Heart of Jesus increases our faith and gives us the desire to obey. Although our abilities are limited, God reminds us of His Omnipotence, “Is there anything too hard for me?” Be honest. Admit in your prayers when your faith is weak. God knows that we cannot make it on our own in this most difficult spiritual journey. One thing is for sure, we will experience many tests and trials. Not as punishment, but to prepare us for eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4).
Prayer: God, it’s me standing in the need of prayer. My prayer is for the forgiveness of the times, I did it my way. I desire to live a faithful and obedient life. Lead and guide me in the direction that aligns with your will. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.