November is a month that is synonymous with fall colors, cooler temperatures, and cozy campfires. While the trees have long ago dropped their beautiful leaves here in Alaska, there is a definitive “nip” in the air. For a lot of us who have wood stoves, fire provides a cozy atmosphere far from the frigid temperatures outside. While you take a minute to appreciate that warmth-giving fire, think of this. Without friction, there is no fire. Aside from chemical reactions, there is not one way to start a fire without friction. Think about it. You strike a match against a matchbox to get a flame. If you were a Native American one hundred years ago, you might have made fire by rubbing two sticks together. Even with more modern lighters, friction is still involved.
Our lives are not free from friction. There might be a coworker who just goes out of their way to make your days as miserable as possible. Or maybe your friction comes in the form of a spouse or wayward teenager. You might be worried about the heat bill (living in Alaska has its costs), or you might be wondering how in the world you are going to send your kid to college. Being a Christian often doesn’t help matters, as it seems that certain people will do everything they can to make sure you slip and fall. This is especially true for those who live with unsaved parents or an unsaved spouse. It’s hard to live for God when everyone around you tells you it’s impossible.
Faced with all these stresses and trials, it’s easy to put God on the back burner. We can wistfully think, “If only it were easier to live for God!” But with an ease of living comes spiritual laziness, and with spiritual laziness comes spiritual death. Hebrews 12:1 says “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us”. I have never heard of a lazy person running a race.
Since the Bible compares our walk with God to a race, let’s look into what it takes to run a race. First, it takes commitment. A runner has to decide, even before they start training, that they’re not going to quit or slow down until the race is finished. A runner must also have patience. Training their body to run that fast for that long is not going to be easy. While there will be those few days where they feel like a million bucks, most days, they’re going to be in pain, as their muscles get used to the strain. The final and most important thing that they must have is passion. Without passion, they are going to have neither the commitment nor the patience to train like they should.
Similarly, in our walk with God, we must have commitment, patience, and passion. Passion gives us commitment and patience. Patience says, “No matter how hard it is, I’m going to live for You, God.” Commitment says, “I’ll keep running rain or shine. I’ll keep running whether I’m happy or sad. If I lose my job, I’ll keep running. If I can’t pay my bills, I’ll keep running. If my spouse thinks I’m a religious nut, I’ll keep running. NOTHING is going to make me stop running.”
Luke 21:12 says this: “…they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.” It goes on to say (Lk 21:16), “and ye shall be betrayed both by parents and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends…” These do not seem like very bright prospects. But then it says in Luke 21:13, “…it shall turn to you for a testimony.” The Bible isn’t saying that there won’t be friction. It’s saying that friction is going to light a fire in your soul that will serve as a testimony to others of what the Lord has brought you through.
Let’s take a look at the apostles. I think you would agree that the apostles were on fire for God. Not only that, but they were committed. Their fire was not a short after-camp sort of fire. It was the fire that comes when a person has made up their mind that no matter what, they will live for God. And their lives were far from easy.
Take Paul, for example. Paul, in his own words, says in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 “ 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”
The life that Paul led was anything but easy. And yet, he established at least 14 churches (he may have established more, but they are not directly mentioned in the New Testament). He kept in regular contact with these churches, writing frequent letters to them. These are preserved as 13 of the 21 epistles. His life, full of hardship, did not keep him from doing the Lord’s work.
So, instead of wishing that it were easier to live for God, I challenge you to turn your hardships into a testimony. Use the friction in your life to light your soul on fire for God. Life isn’t going to get easier just because you don’t give your all to God. In fact, it will probably get harder. Bro. Delton J. Carnley once said “If you live for God easy, it’s going to be hard. But if you live for God hard, it’s going to be easy.” The more set we are in our minds that we aren’t going to turn around, the more fixed we are on the prize, the easier it will be to avoid temptations and snares as we run this Christian race.