Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Struggles on the Road

"This is not what I expected."

Those words came repeatedly from a young boy in Children's Church a few weeks ago. I laughed about it at the time but later thought how often I'd had the same reaction, even after what I felt was clear direction from God. Isn't it odd how we can be without a doubt in the center of His will and still find that it is not at all what we expected?

His ways are so much higher than ours, and when things are going well we can appreciate that. But it is when we face the struggles on the road that our faith is challenged, and we come face to face with the fact that His will - perhaps even the answer to a prayer, or something we initially put down in the category of "blessing" - is not at all what we expected.

The bottom line of discipleship is that this walk is more than mental assent. Scottish Presbyterian john Alexander Mackay highlighted this so beautifully as the difference between "the balcony" and "the road". He wrote: "Assent may be given on the Balcony, but consent is inseparable from the road".

It is rarely in "the balcony" of our quiet times and our agreements to God's wonderful plans that I have my struggles. Certainly there have been times of wrestling through a decision my flesh didn't want to make, but by and large my struggles have been with application, not agreement. And yet God consistently calls me -- and you -- to "walk the walk" on the Road, and not merely accept a theoretical obedience in the Balcony. As Samuel Escobar writes, "Because Jesus is Lord, he is to be followed on the road which is the place where life is lived in the midst of tensions, where conflicts and concerns become the soil from which ideas are born. Thus, discipleship is the ground of true theology."

So true. If we are not willing to follow Him in obedience, our understanding of His truth - our theology - will be greatly limited. If we do grasp a theological truth, then He will make sure we have an opportunity to "walk it out".

If you are struggling on the road today, take heart. God has you there for a purpose. Keep following Him to a place where your theology will come to life in your reality - and wait to see what He reveals next!

Mark 4:24-25 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

No comments: