A few weeks ago, a strong May storm suddenly popped up in the middle of the day here in Oklahoma, which usually means lots of rain and wind. On this particular Tuesday, the storm that moved into town so quickly dropped about three inches of rain in 20 minutes, with winds blowing straight over 70 miles per hour!
All over town streets were flooding and lights were flashing, but in my area of town quite a few of us had wind damage. Tree limbs were strewn about yards and streets, trash cans were blown over, and a church even lost part of its roof and steeple!
In my own yard, three of my wooden fence posts snapped at the ground, causing part of my fence to fall and my side gate to be undone. We still had a roof and had not lost a steeple, but we still had plenty of repairs to do.
Thanks to friends and family, I have learned over time how to repair and replace fence posts, so I decided to undertake this project – with the help of an invaluable friend (practically family) who often helps me with these types of projects (you know who you are).
To prepare for setting the posts with my friend, I knew I needed to get the old parts of the post still in the ground surrounded by concrete. Again, this was something I had done before and did not think would be a very big project.
You can probably see where this story is headed, and believe me, I was sorely (emphasis on the sore part) mistaken.
I began at 10am on Friday morning digging out the first of three fence posts. I dug. And dug. Annnnnd dug. Then I found this particular piece, the gate section, was stuck to the actual foundation of my house. So, I then started chipping away with a pickaxe, then a hammer, then a shovel.
Two hours later, I had freed the concrete from my foundation, but it was still in the ground. I keep digging and prying and trying to get the chunk of rocks and sand out of that hole.
By 2:00pm that afternoon, the concrete was still in the ground and I was now laying in the ground. With exhausting and absolutely no pride left, I called in the big guns. A friend from church I knew had the right tool for the job, and he came over to assist me. This short video below demonstrates just what it took to get that chunk of what I know realize was pure evil out of the ground.
Keep in mind, this was hole 1 of 3 I was going to dig. Thankfully, my gracious friend took his excavator and within 10 minutes was able to do what I could not in four hours.
My problem did not reside in not having the will or determination to accomplish the task. I simply did not have the right tools necessary. Have you ever been in a situation like that where you are trying to get something done without the right tools? It either takes everything out of you or the job gets done the wrong way.
Spiritually, the same principle exists. Many spend their whole lives trying to “be good” or “live a good life” to hopefully get to heaven one day or earn God’s favor. However, we do not possess the right tools for that job – only Christ’s work through the cross and his resurrection was able to make us right with God. Romans 6:23 describes this in such a profound way, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” All our working does is earn us death, but eternal life is a free gift through Christ!
Those who have committed their lives to following Christ also get stuck using the wrong tools when it comes to growing in their relationship with Jesus. Especially in our culture today, many who follow Christ try to grow in their faith by being good or just working hard at doing “Christian” things. But are those the right tools?
When I think of the right tools and Christians growing in the faith, I am reminded of the early church in Acts 2:42-47:
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Where did these Christians focus? Simply put, they focused on spiritual disciplines not just individually but also in community. Today we often see these in disciplines like Bible study and prayer, not just on your own but also in a Sunday School group and in Worship as a church.
Trying to grow as a Christian without spiritual disciplines is like trying to do a job without the right tools – it just will not work.
This is just a brief blog post to encourage you to get the right tools in your belt. Entire books and studies have been written to teach and guide Christians to the practice of spiritual disciplines in their lives. Getting started on the right track is a journey that has a great support of resources available – including the church!
Far too many Christians try to live and grow in faith apart of the power of the Holy Spirit or the guidance that spiritual disciplines provides. I encourage you – connect with a pastor or staff member of your church (or get connected in a church)! If you are at my church, I would love to speak with you! Don’t be like me and trying to accomplish something that just will not happen without the right tools.
Growing to be like Christ and set apart for him, also known as sanctification, is an incredible journey of the Holy Spirit working in our lives as we pursue the Lord in knowledge and faith. Do not miss what God has in store for you!