I ran across it this morning; rather, it ran across me. All over me. In me. Through me. Within and without of me.
A verse. A single Scripture that my desperation cried out for like a beggar plowing through a garbage bin for the scraps from yesterday’s fine dining. A yesterday’s fare that still tastes fresh and rich and full of all the nutrients a hungering soul needs.
God’s Word is like that. It feeds our wanton estate with the richest bounty of heaven. All that is required from us in the matter is our willingness to entreat the bounty with faith enough to believe that what we’re looking for will be found in ready supply. With God’s Word our souls never go hungry, never leave empty, never walk away with “less” than what we had prior to our arrival at the table.
God’s Word feeds fully.
Today, he fed me with this verse from Jude. He told me to contend for the faith that he has entrusted to me. To “strive and to fight” for the faith that has been “delivered, handed down” to me. Those words shot through me with a clarity I’d not seen before. The previous underlining of them was a good indicator that I’d read them before, but for whatever reason, today they packed a punch and forced my pondering.
Interesting that this “contending” in the Greek is the opposite of the word eireneuo which means “to keep the peace or to be at peace” (and you know how I feel about that particular topic…). I am not to be at peace with my faith… to be a casual attendee on the road of faith. Rather, I’m to be vigilant in my efforts at faith’s cultivation. At growing and further developing the initial belief that was first transferred to my heart from a loving God who entrusted me with faith’s safe-keeping.
It doesn’t make sense to me to have been entrusted with such a gift. God knows just exactly how many times I’ve failed him in this department. Times when I’ve chosen doubt over trust. Selfish control over selfless release. My shifting manipulations over his tried and true. My plans, my thoughts over his. Indeed, it seems another saint might be a better fit for God’s gift of faith.
Still and yet, he calls me his saint, his “set-apart and his consecrated.” He tells me that faith is mine for the keeping. Not to contend with it, but to contend for it. Why? Because faith isn’t a gift that warrants my rebellious fists. Faith is a gift that deserves my open hands. My willingness to receive, to hold, to absorb, and to clothe myself in the cause of Jesus Christ.
A gift so precious is a gift worthy of my best contending.
Day in. Day out, until all of my earthly days are done and I come open-handed to the throne of my Jesus where I return to him the package of faith I’ve been given. He will put the punctuation mark on this journey he’s authored in me. In that moment, there will be final perfection—an end that serves as a fitting conclusion to the story that he and I have been writing together for the past forty-three years.
How I contend for my faith now is directly linked to how I will be commended for my faith then.
They won’t measure out equally, for there is nothing I can do here in the present that will match what I’m going to receive from God in the future. His grace and blessing will always trump my efforts at the same. But I do believe there is something more to be gained from my contending for the faith on this side of the eternity that will matter for the other side of eternity. Something better … something further … something grander because I was willing to go to the mat for my faith and for my Jesus until my final breath.
I don’t want to peacefully find my way to heaven. I want to go there contending for the One who was willing to go to the mat for me on a hillside 2000 years ago. Who looked down through the ages and saw a young girl named Faith Elaine and decided that her life was worth his. That her heart could be trusted with faith’s impartation, with faith’s safe-keeping. A risky calculation in my estimation, but not enough to keep Jesus from making his altared surrender.
I want to honor that surrender with my honest contention. My best efforts at forging ahead with my faith. These are the days when we must move forward in our faith, friends. We are not to shrink back in our belief. We must not waver in our understanding regarding our finish … our end. God is that end. He who began a good work in us is faithful to complete it. He serves as the bookends to all faith journeys, but we must be vigilant in our walking the “in between.”
Faith steps ahead, not behind. For faith to grow there must be movement beneath our feet and progress within our hearts. Otherwise, we’re stuck.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to finish this race stuck. This is the tragedy of an infant-fed faith. Do you realize that we could spend the rest of our spiritual lives stuck right where we are, right now? When we close our eyes on our earthly days, if all we have is an initial belief in Jesus, then we’re going to make it home to him. But I don’t want to just make it home. I want to make it home with something more to give him—a package of faith that was well-contented for and well-lived. Not some half-hearted attempt at the process.
Thus, I choose striving over peace-keeping. Moving on rather than staying stuck. Keeping the faith rather than casting it to the curb. Pressing in, pressing further, pressing through until my faith becomes my eyes, and I hear the commendation that my heart is contending for even today.
A good fight for a good faith all the way through to a very good finish. Keep contending for the King, friend. He still contends for thee. As always…
peace for the journey,