If I had a nickel for every time I wished my life was easier, more comfortable, or more secure I would probably have enough money to make it all of those things. I come to God and without even realizing it I go “Do you see this? Do you see all the things I don’t have? This can’t be right. Something must have gone wrong! What do I do??” Because somewhere along the line I once again bought into the terrific lie that comfort and accomplishment equal Christian success.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
If human comfort is your measuring stick for a Christian life well lived you are in for a bumpy ride. Nowhere in his ministry did Jesus call people to him saying, “Hey! Follow me! My Father has set up a fantastic resort for all those who follow my teaching! You’re gonna love it!” If anything, he consistently said just the opposite. There’s a big old chunk of text in John 15 that Jesus uses to tell his followers just how ugly things are going to get for them because they’re choosing to follow him. And every time Jesus preached on the hardships of Christian living, people stopped following him in droves. The gospel is not a feel-good, stroll from one pleasant location to another. It’s a battle-hardened, keep your wits about you race through the trenches to victory. If we treat it like anything else, we will not be ready for even the smallest of inconveniences to our Christian walk.
Christianity is going to be a bumpy ride. You’d best get ready.
It will take things you think you need and force you to consider that they might just be wants. It will look at the border of your comfort zone and walk right past it. The Christian life is not a walk in the park, it’s not an Instagram perfect highlight reel, it’s not even a comfy, cozy life. It’s a full out battle against a world slipping into darkness and battles are never comfortable. The difference between difficulty in Christian life and regular life is the destination behind it all.
Obstacles, hardships, and trials in Christian life are never without purpose and they are never the end of the story.
Life is bumpy, yes, but it’s bumpy with purpose and intent. We’re going somewhere. We’re doing something. We’re going to have something to show for it when everything is said and done. It may look different than we expected it to. We may even feel like we have nothing left by the time we get there, but none of it is ever in vain. The bible is abundantly clear on that point more than once. Verses like 1 Peter 1:6-7 puts it best when it says:
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold- though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
You are not failing because your Christian life is a bumpy ride. If anything it means you’re on the right track. I’ve always thought that our trajectory as Christians should be something like a desperate vacationer. Someone who's been waiting and dreaming of their wonderful destination, having spent hours planning and looking forward to this event. It’s their dream to go to this place, it’s all they want, and now they finally have a chance to go. It’s time to pull the trigger. Everything's been planned and taken care of, and all that's left is the actual travel.
But when the travel day actually comes, things prove to be much more difficult. Transportation breaks down, important papers are gone, flights missed, connections ruined, baggage lost, you name it. In the end, though, the traveler finally arrives. Tired, hassled, beaten, bruised, with only the shirt on his back, but he arrives. And that's what matters. He has nothing that he thought he needed to take with him, only himself, but he has arrived. He could have thrown a fit and decided it wasn’t worth it to go. He could have sat down in the airport or train station and simply cried over the whole thing, but he didn’t. He fought to get there.
If you’re walking the Christian walk, you are on a very conscious journey. You aren’t just wandering around aimlessly, waiting to see what might come your way, and stopping to smell the roses every few feet. You have a destination set out before you and you’re molding your life towards that end destination. Time and time again the bible refers to Christian living as running a race. This is the reality of the situation. It’s an exhausting fight, but it’s one with a purpose and a finish line. What good would it do us to carry things with us that we don’t need?
We are not going to improve our end result by having more stuff and comforts this side of heaven. If anything, they’re just going to weigh us down. I don’t know about you, but running a race has never been made easier by carrying a bunch of luggage I don’t actually need. Save yourself the trouble and don’t worry about the stuff in the first place.
Life is heavy. Travel light.
Let’s find some joy,