If one’s Christian life can be described as a “walk” then it’s not likely one that is very relevant to anyone beyond themselves. It’s not likely a life that impacts others. Christian maturity, I think, has everything to do with enduring life’s struggles and storms. And beyond that it is a life lived out in ministry and intimate fellowship with others in the Body. Our individual trials become sanctified by the part they can play in Christ’s Body if we allow them.
Graham Cooke points out that whereas grace is a gift freely given, it is also one that drags us on to a battlefield and that each of us must fight to fulfill his or her destiny as followers of Jesus. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit helps us along in that journey. As Steve Brown often points out, “God greases the tracks.” That simply means that He helps us considerably toward the fulfillment of our ministry when we are new Christians. When I first heard Steve say that in a sermon a couple of years back I knew exactly what he meant.
In 1998, I started teaching a class on coping with depression at my church and not much more than a year later I started writing a book. The Holy Spirit illuminated scriptures and led me to other relevant material almost daily that I incorporated into my class and book. At times I could feel an anointing and it was somewhat intoxicating. I started to think that maybe I was becoming the Lord’s fair-haired instrument of hope and help for the depressed in Central Florida and beyond. Oh boy, was I naive. At that time I was five years into a cycle of steady growth, but I was still a long way from being a mature Christian. In retrospect, the Lord was encouraging me by greasing the tracks, but beyond that He was getting and holding my attention. I have more than a bit of attention deficit disorder (ADD) and I also tend to give up fairly easily if I’m not given encouragement. The Lord knew exactly what I needed.
The smidgen of anointing I received felt good but what I was unprepared for was the spiritual warfare that goes on in the life of someone called to a type of ministry. Though I was familiar with the book of Job, I did not yet really understand that God allows attacks of the enemy as part of a process of testing and growth. I’ve since come to believe that Jesus had to experience the 40-day assault in the wilderness after his anointing at the River Jordan, but before the beginning of his ministry. In a sense, how He dealt with Satan validated Who He really was in the Father.
So it is in our lives. Without life’s trials and storms we will never really experience who we are in Jesus. We need our times of cowering in the boat and crying out to the Lord for help to come trust that He will.