December 7, 2011

An Ever-Present Help

“You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I’ve ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They’re slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love. . . . No, wait—I’m thinking of Labrador retrievers!”—David Learn.*
laughed when I read this humorous quip and wished that these attributes truly did describe Christians—but I know better. I once heard someone say that “the Christian life isn’t really hard to live—it’s impossible!” How true! In fact, only one person in history ever lived it perfectly: Jesus Christ.
Some people have the idea that when they become Christians they won’t sin anymore—that they’ll be perfect and serve as good role models for others. Unfortunately, Christians do struggle with sin and sometimes slip and fall. But that doesn’t mean they’ve broken their relationship with Jesus and are no longer His children.
2011 1534 page30When it seems that all others have forsaken us, or we feel so overwhelmed that we question whether we can make it through another day, or we appear to be total failures, we must remember that the Spirit of God is indeed near, loving and forgiving and sustaining us. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13).
God deems each one of us as having immeasurable value, regardless of our troubles, conflicts, doubts, and uncertainties. Even with our less-than-perfect characters or short tempers, we are the objects of His compassion. No matter what is happening in our lives, God still loves us. At this very moment He is right beside us, ready to help and strengthen us.
If there were times in my life when my behavior even mildly reflected the character of my Lord Jesus, it was the result of spending time in secret prayer and reading the Word of God. I found rest in the shade of my all-powerful God. He was my strength and fortified city. It was when I put my trust in Him that He delivered me from Satan’s traps and from the deadly poison of sin. He truly covered me with His wings. When I made God my refuge, His truth was my shield and defense.
When a father walks with his young child and holds her hand, his steps are long, and the child struggles to keep up with him. But as the child grips the father’s hand tightly and hangs on, she may stumble, but she will not fall. This is the secret of being able to continue in our Christian walk: holding on tightly to our heavenly Father’s hand. He is the sustainer, the only true surety that we will safely complete our earthly journey.
Our salvation is based upon our relationship with God, a relationship that strengthens by spending time with Him. The better we know our loving Lord, the more in sync our hearts will beat with His.
I have yet to reach the goal of having complete heart unity with my Savior, but every day—by His grace—I copy Him the best I can. Every day my fellowship with Him deepens, and I continue to strive to be what Jesus had in mind for me when He first took hold of me.
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13, 14).
Friends, let us never fail to keep our eyes on Jesus and by His grace to hold on to the truth that we know.
Dick Rentfro, who fell asleep in Jesus October 21, 2011, was a former evangelist and pastor living in Thorp, Washington. This article was published December 8, 2011.