Failing, Falling and Living for Jesus

I’m a sucker for those motivational speeches in sports movies. As canned and cheesy as they may be, I love it. There’s power in speech to move us to action and keep us going in life, and every now and then, you just need to hear Sylvester Stallone say, “It ain’t about how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

I have been hit since I moved to Jonesboro. While I love my job, and I’m enjoying this fine city, spiritually…I’ve been decimated by the change, and I have failed to live the godly life God has called me to. I have allowed my job to take God’s place. I have allowed trivial things like sports, Netflix, and just the stress of living on my own to keep me from God’s Word, prayer and evangelism. I have struggled with anger, laziness, irritability, among other besetting, annoying sins.

It has been an exciting two and a half months, but it has also been a very rough, very difficult two months. Up until today, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I wasn’t sure I would be able to continue living a vibrant, successful Christian life here, because so much has changed, and I was struggling.

It was easy to spend a lot of time in the Word in college and working part-time. It was easy to spend time listening to sermons, reading Christian books and discussing theology and what it meant to follow Jesus with Christian brothers and sisters over the last few years, going back to when I was saved. I had more time. I didn’t have to worry about a full-time job. I didn’t have to worry about paying bills, getting groceries, etc.

I realize for those reading this that you may laugh, and say “Welcome to life,” but please understand and think back to when you first stepped out into “adulthood.” It’s not so much that doing those things is difficult. In fact, I haven’t been delinquent on any bills; I haven’t missed a meal, and I’m doing relatively well at my job for a rookie reporter. It’s not that it’s hard, so much as it is that it takes up more time, and it changes my schedule (which is bad because I’m schedule-oriented), it changes the focal points of my life, and my reality and context is totally different than what it was at Montevallo and during my time in retail. And all of a sudden, reading the Bible is more of a chore. Sharing the gospel becomes just another thing to do. Worshiping God doesn’t sound as nice as watching Netflix or listening to the Hamilton soundtrack for the millionth time. And because I’m so caught up in my job, and this new life, God is hardly ever on the forefront of my mind. This leads to all sorts of sin.

What has to happen? Learning to live for God in a strange new context. Learning to do that which helps me live life like Jesus, knowing Him, thinking of Him, being like Him and sharing Him with others, in a new land. Luckily, there’s a biblical example of someone, really, someones, who did that.

Daniel and his friends were taken by the Babylonians during the exile. The king, Nebuchadnezzar, took him and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, better known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They were told to eat the king’s food, drink the king’s wine, study Babylonian culture and ultimately, worship Babylonian “gods.”

Daniel and his friends said no. Chapter 1, verse 9 says, “And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs.” Daniel feared God, trusting that God would take care of him, and God responded by doing so. Daniel did not earn God’s grace, but understanding it caused him to live a life that honored God, despite being far from Israel.

In the same way, we must realize as Christians we are in a foreign land. We are not yet home. And I have recently allowed this temporary place to become home, and abandoned the passionate Christian life I lived before. Tonight that changes. I go back to consistent, engaged Bible study, passionate prayer, a mind stayed on God and His Word, a heart seeking opportunities to share the gospel, and a lifestyle that worships God and glorifies Him. This can only be done by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, so that’s what I’m praying for.

Christian, your home is not here. Your home, your citizenship, is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Join me in returning to a life that looks like that. Abandon a life centered on careers and entertainment and let’s center our lives on the eternal King.

Lord, may we love you more than life. May we center our lives on you. May we, in failing and falling, get up and return to you. May we trust in your grace to restore us, and may we live lives that glorify you.

God bless,

Neal E.

I will return to writing regularly on Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. and Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. this week unless otherwise noted. Your readership is greatly appreciated.