‘I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory’, (2 Peter 1:13) or for those who do not believe, to make it known that Jesus Christ is Lord, Sovereign over all. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the one who goes before us and makes a way. He is to be exalted. He is to be glorified! He is Lord!
What gives me this confidence? On what ground do I make this declaration? On the basis of the wonderful things that He has done for me:
- on the basis of the three beautiful children that He gave to me when the doctors said that my husband was infertile and would not get me pregnant;
- on the basis of the home He has allowed me to keep in the midst of distressing financial circumstances;
- on the basis of the bills that He allows me to pay month after month notwithstanding my financial challenges;
- on the basis of the healing that He effected in me after the crushing discovery in 2017 of the infidelity of my husband who had been my partner (between courtship and marriage) for twenty-five years and who later left the home;
- on the basis of the beautiful transformation in my relationship with my children, now teens.
I say then when I examine the ways in which He has reformed me, changing my heart and conforming me to the image of Christ Jesus. As such,
- the things that used to bother me no longer do;
- the same anxious, vexatious, prideful, malicious and fleshly responses are fading from my arsenal of responses.
Does this mean that I am free of all sin? Of course not! I make no such boast. I still am flesh and so, likely to sin. What I am, however, is free from the stranglehold of sin by the power of the Holy Spirit working in me to perfect me according to God’s holy purpose.
This is no self-righteous proclamation. This rather, is the declaration of one who has been through a harrowing. This is the voice of one who has been being purified. This is the testimony of one who has been through tremendous suffering, and who can now say there is no purification one can undergo like the purification of suffering. There is no strengthening and sharpening that is quite as effective as the humbling of some good, ole hard times. There is nothing so cleansing as having the things that you idolised taken away from you.
What do I speak of? Oh, I don’t know: the job, the marriage, the prestige, the influence, the money…and the friends. Oh, the loss of friends – that one hurt the most, I think. You see, while the friends were there, I fooled myself into thinking I was still okay because I still had someone(s) to vent to. Rather than leaning into the Pioneer and Perfecter of my faith, I leaned into the created: I leaned into the friends, finding yet another idol. It was when I found myself like the ‘cheese standing alone’ that I realised how shallow my life had been. It was when there were no friends around that I realised how empty my life had been and that I had been fooling myself all along.
It was at this point that I had to learn just what it meant to do as written in the letter to the Hebrews:
[…] lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and […] run with perseverance the race that is set before [me], looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of [my] faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:1-2
Friends, I couldn’t begin to imagine the sins that ‘[clung] so closely’. I found myself confessing pride, malice, envy, hate, greed, a lack of self-control, lust and impatience. I couldn’t imagine the murky waters in which I had been bathing. As written in Colossians, I had to learn, through my suffering:
‘As God’s chosen [one], holy and beloved, [to] clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.Colossians 3:12
This, just as I have been exhorting you, has been my HEWing. It was my letting go so that God could have His own way. It was removing the scum so that my light could shine before others. It was my transformation as my mind was renewed so that I could discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Ref. Romans 12:2)
Was it painful? Which part of suffering isn’t? Is it over? Not just yet, for I will continue to suffer while I have life. I say this not to be dismal, but as an acceptance that, as a disciple of Christ, I must humble myself and take up my cross. Is it worth it? Oh yes! It is definitely worth it, for in this suffering I learn what it means to be ‘mature and complete, lacking in nothing’ (James 1:4).
This pilgrim journey, which is the journey that I’ve been on, is quite a lonesome road. It is tiresome and, at times, I did feel like I would lose my mind. Along this pilgrim journey, though, my eyes have been sharpened to recognise God’s guiding hand leading me through this barren land, and my ears opened to hear His voice as He encourages me, ‘Fear not. I am with you always.’ On this pilgrim journey, I have indeed learnt that Jesus Christ is Lord!
Until next time: love, peace and joy, and to God be the glory!