Recently Grace and I had a time of holiday in Arrowtown. There are some great walks in the hills around Arrowtown. One frosty day when the temperature read minus 6 read at 8am I head out for a walk. The sun is up and it’s a great day to climb a hill.
Layered up with merino wool, and my windproof waterproof jacket, and my trusty trekking poles in hand, I begin. I soon find the trail is ice. The risk has gone up and my pace has gone down, and I question my choice to do the walk. How much did I want to succeed and get to the top of the hill?
Walking on ice required greater commitment, increased focus, and intentionality. At times I felt uncomfortable and tense in circumstances that without ice I would cruise through with ease, my feet instinctively finding their place. My trekking poles which are often barely used accessories, became essential.
In the challenge and discomfort of the ice, I see an illustration of my ‘present time’. I am in a season of change leaving a role I have got comfortable in and can do with a degree of instinct. My following Jesus is leading me into a new place that I have not quite seen, and at times I feel like my faith is walking on ice.
A few verses which keep coming to mind are Romans 13:11-12.
And do this, understanding the present time: the hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light.
Change feels dangerous
The ‘time’ I am in requires clear focus, intentional faith for every step. Understanding the time needs clear thinking that refuses to give a place to fear and discomfort. It is dangerous to follow Jesus into a new place that I don’t see clearly. Did you hear me? It feels dangerous to trust God as he leads us through change. I feel fear and hear a voice saying; what if God is not is true to his word and promise. I must press on with clear focus and intentional steps of faith. Progress may be slow and precarious, but God is leading across the ice. My success is not reaching a certain place, but staying alert and close to a certain person; The person of the Lord Jesus Christ, he is my armour of light.
In 1 Samuel 17 we read of David walking out to face Goliath. Did David feel like he was walking on ice, needing to hold focus and take every step with deliberate faith? A whole army who worshipped the same God that David worshipped, in the same culture as David; saw Goliath as too big and too dangerous. In the context of Romans 13:11-12 these men choose darkness over light. David choose to put aside the fears of the darkness and to put on the light of faith in God when everyone around him was saying: To change and believe we can face Goliath is impossible. Our best strategy is to hide from Goliath and hope God does something to save us. Sadly, as they were hiding from Goliath, they were also hiding from God, from their armour of light.
The Holy Spirit is saying: understand the time, wake up and put aside deeds of darkness. Put on the armour of light. For Saul and his army this meant standing their ground. For Saul, facing Goliath trusting that his God was bigger would have been ‘waking up’ and putting aside the deeds of darkness, the dreaming of victories while unwilling to trust God in the battleground of faith.
We can be good at gathering, and worshipping, dreaming of great things in God, and studying his words. Then someone suggests changing and engaging the enemy and seeking to save lost people. We run and hide. That would feel like walking on ice, difficult even impossible for us. We hide from the real work of God and content ourselves with dreaming in the dark. Please understand the present time, and wake up from your slumber, put on the armour of light and live to save those lost from Jesus Christ.
Awake arise advance
I suggest that ‘understanding the present time’ is living as if Jesus is coming back and nothing is as important as being awake in the light ready for his return. Living as light in the deep spiritual darkness of the world feels like walking on ice. We should feel uncomfortable, a little afraid, and challenged by the call of God to believe that he is bigger than our fears and anxieties. It’s time to face our challenges with disciplined focus and intentional steps of faith in God. To believe that what is impossible for us, is possible for God.
Here’s some questions to focus and stir our faith:
- What is my next step from my smallness into his bigness?
- How would I live today if I knew Jesus was returning tomorrow?
- What would I focus on?
- What would I do different?
- Who will I seek to bring closer to Jesus?
We need to engage our faith and take steps to face our fears. I am realising that God desires me to trust Him with my messiness, not my success in cleaning myself up. There is never a need for me to run and hide, even when the path seems like slippery ice. It’s time to arise and advance.
I pray that as you read you will become aware of the present time. You will feel the call to wake up from any spiritual slumber and walk by faith through the change that God is leading you through. Allow yourself to feel disoriented and afraid, then choose to trust that God is bigger than your feelings and fears. Because following Jesus is impossible for us by ourselves; but is possible with God.