I often find myself pulled in so many different directions that I feel like Gumby – remember the little green guy that you could “pretzel-ize,” and he’d still have a smile on his face? You and a friend, or two, or three, would each grab a leg or an arm and try to twist, stretch, and pull to see just how much this rubbery composite could endure. Eventually, something would give, and the one holding the last appendage attached to Gumby’s body would wave a green arm or leg in victory. Then, tired of this game, you moved on to better things, leaving a defective Gumby on the ground with a goofy grin plastered on his quizzical face, his eyes staring in a comical gaze.
As I search for God’s will for my life, I am pulled this way and that, yet I am not committed one way or the other. I have been taught from childhood that God loves me. I desire His blessings on me and on my family. And, of course, I don’t want to go to Hell; who does? But, do I love God enough to commit to walk in obedience to His Word? This commitment is a difficult concept in today’s society.
While I struggle with obedience to God’s Word, there is another force that demands reckoning – a pull 180 degrees opposite of what I have been taught, and what I know to be true. It is a force opposite love, compassion, forgiveness, and truth. It offers what my flesh desires, but it destroys my spirit and my soul. It will rob me of every ounce of joy on earth, and will make difficult my desire to fellowship with God. Heaven and hell have waged this war since the beginning of time; no man (or, woman) has been exempt from battle.
Paul wrote, in Romans 7:18a, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 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.” Will I commit to obedience in Christ? How can I commit to Christ when the desires of my flesh are so strong?
So, the battle rages. Like Gumby, I maintain a manufactured smile, and there is little evidence of life in my eyes. Beneath the surface, I am stretched to the point of breaking, yet neither heaven nor hell is willing to surrender. By the grace of God, I have survived thus far. Yet, I am tired of the battle – will I yet surrender to the obedience of Christ?
The battle seems hopeless, for even Paul, in Romans 7:24, admitted, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
Only a wretched man would do those things that I have done. Only a wretched man knows despair and hopelessness so intimately that it seems as though death is the only answer. Yet, Paul continues in Romans 7, “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Jesus Christ is the only true way. Jesus said, in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
My salvation is sealed by the blood of Christ, yet each day I have a choice to make. I stand at the crossroads; I must choose whom I will serve – Jesus, lover of my soul, or the Prince of Darkness whose taunting and hatred I have known. I desire to experience fellowship with God, I look for his favor, his compassion; but, is my heart, my will, lined up with His desires for me? Am I broken enough to surrender to Him all that I am, so that He can complete a new work in me?
This I choose to believe: The Father is waiting to receive each one with open arms. When we surrender to Christ, God does not leave us in a heap on the ground. While Satan runs off to find another “toy” to destroy, God scoops up our battered and stretched body and holds us in His loving arms. He redeems our tattered soul.
Romans 6:4 says, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” There is great relief in my redemption, and, while Satan will still taunt me and do his best to cause me to stumble, he will no longer have control over my soul. I have tried to fight the battle on my own, and I have lost; I am tattered and stretched, a heap on the ground. Yet, God, with immeasurable compassion, scoops me up and says, “I love you and you are mine.”