Last week as tough. I mean really tough. Every day it seemed that my mind was filled with some temptation of the past. It was to the point that on Sunday I crawled into bed after church and just cried myself to sleep. My mind was actually thinking about giving up – on everything. Slowly, but surely, I started to come out of my attacks – and that was what they were, attacks from the enemy.
During this past week, I received a poignant letter in the mail from Exodus President Alan Chambers. In it, he spoke about faith, peace, and our identity in Christ; it fell right in line with what I needed to be reminded of.
Speaking about meeting with some friends for prayer, Alan says:
This morning one of my friends was dealing with work issues. I hate [that he has to go through this], but at the same time, I really believe that God can be God in the midst of a crisis. In a crisis we are more apt to pay attention to God being God because we are desperate!
As my friend shared I felt the Lord give me a word for all of us … Luke 8:22-25 which relates the story of Jesus sleeping in the bottom of the boat while His disciples are fretting on deck due to the gale force winds …
In reading the passage that Alan speaks of, take notice to the conversation. The disciples are freaking out that the storm is about to destroy them and their boat; though when Jesus rebukes the winds in order to quiet the storm, He turns to the disciples and questions their faith. Why does He do this?
Before this story, the disciples had seen Jesus raise the dead, heal the lame, forgive sins, cast out demons, and other miraculous signs. They knew that Jesus had the power to do anything, and something within assured them that this was in fact God’s Son. Yet, they still did not connect this head knowledge with their hearts. Sure, they believed that Jesus was all-powerful, but when it came down to testing that belief, doubt overshadowed their belief. I am willing to bet that we are no different when trials, temptations, and “bad-days” come our way.
See, I think why Jesus rebuked the disciples on the boat with the words “Where is your faith” is because the disciples had forgotten who was with them during the storm: Jesus. His rebuke was not so much against doubt as it was a call to remember that when Christ is with you, you are safe – no matter the outlook of the storm.
I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation (trouble). But take heart; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33 (ESV)
The key is this phrase: “IN ME.” The more we cling to Christ and the deeper we root ourselves in His Truth, the more His peace becomes a reality. As Jesus says in John 15, we truly live when we are connected to Him (the Vine); though, apart from Him, we simply just die off.
Alan goes on to say:
The truth is that no matter what situation it is that you are facing, whether an impossible work situation or same sex attractions that you did not choose, you can have the peace amidst the raging storms. Regardless of your circumstances now, or whether your circumstances ever change, peace is something Jesus promises we can have.
[In talking about his struggles with SSA] … Today those attractions cause me no angst, disappointment, or fear. I know they are there … [but] they do not impact my marriage, my family, or my life in any way that I choose not to allow them to affect those things … I have chosen to trust in the promise of God that in the midst of great trials peace is most assured.
What Alan offers is excellent advice for anyone who struggles with anything. Notice the power of choice. When a storm rages against us, when our faith is tested, how we respond is up to us – the result is what we make of it. Either we focus on the problem (earthly perspective) or we train ourselves to focus on the Problem Solver (Kingdom perspective).
I totally agree with what Alan says about our identity:
Our world tells us that if we feel same sex attractions that we must be “true to ourselves” and give in to them. They say that being honest means being gay. Hogwash! Being honest means being true to who God created you to be in spite of the earthly circumstances that you might experience. Urges do not define you. Temptations do not define you … unless you let them.
Arise in faith friends, and grasp hold of your True Identity found within Christ Jesus! Hear the words of David in Psalm 138:1-3 (NIV):
I will praise You, O LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing Your praise.
I bow down toward Your Holy temple and will praise Your name for Your love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word.
When I called, You answered me; You made me bold and stouthearted.
For those of us in Christ, hear the words of the Father:
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. – Isaiah 43:1 (ESV)
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are … Beloved, we are God’s children now … 1 John 3:1-2 (ESV)
… we are children of God … heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. – Romans 8:16-17 (ESV)
If you then … know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him … But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 7:11, 6:33 (ESV)
Temptations will continue to besiege us. Bad days are inevitable. How we handle them is up to us. Stand and walk in the Identity of Him who has called you His own. Rest assured that Christ is with you – every second of every day – and He sees the storms around you; in fact, He is in them with you. May His peace (and your faith) increase with every step Jesus and you take.