“And that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."- Deuteronomy 30:20
The other day I was approached by someone who needed assistance with getting the back seats of their van locked back into place. I felt pretty confident in accomplishing this task as this is an area I have handled multiple times with my own vehicle. Little did I know I was in store for a fifteen minute lesson in patience and perseverance (talk about a serving of humble pie). As I examined the seats, the floor mounts, and the instruction diagram, I soon realized that what looked pretty straightforward had turned into a jigsaw puzzle of struggle. The more I studied the location of the floor mounts and clamps on the seat, the more confused I became. I was actually beginning to question if these seats actually belonged to this vehicle. After several failed attempts, the front latches connected properly, triggering a mechanism which moved and locked the seat freely into its perfect place. I was so relieved to be finished that I could hear the music from the movie Rocky playing in my head (okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration).
This experience has me thinking about the precision needed to being properly connected to the Lord, fitting into His arms, walking in step with His Spirit, and leaning on His grace, truth, and strength. In John 15:5 Jesus tells His followers, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." We need our lives to be connected to Him and strengthened in Him. In order for this type of faith LOCK-IN there needs to be a Spirit work done that fashions us into His holy and perfect framework. In the same way a furniture unit is assembled by bringing together different parts, there is some adjusting that must be done for us to lock into true fellowship with Jesus. Let me suggest three today:
1) There needs to be a smoothing out of the ROUGH places.
These areas are the personality traits, emotions, and attitudes within us that are conditioned by the flesh and contrary to the Spirit. Each of us can easily fall into the former patterns of being negative, judgmental, prideful, and unloving. We make excuses for what we say and do, we act entitled, and we engage in unsavory behavior not fitting for a son or daughter of the King. Galatians 5:22-24 tells us, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
2) There needs to be a fixing of the BROKEN places.
This has to do with the circumstances that come our way causing pain, grief, cost, time, and inconvenience. Many times what happens "to us" attempts to derail our faith, hope, and love as much as what is at work "in us": A boss chews us out in front of the entire office; a family member is dealing with an addiction; a car repair costs hundreds of dollars; there is a misunderstanding that jeopardizes a friendship. These external elements have a major impact on our lives and become heavy weights that we can't seem to bear. The Lord wants us to hand over our concerns and challenges. He has the answer and the care that we need. In I Peter 5:6-7 we are reminded of life's true remedy, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."
3) There needs to be a molding of the HARD places.
Maybe one of the greatest challenges that keeps us from true fellowship and peace with God is our thinking we have God all figured out. The hard places are those things we have defined and assumed about the Lord without searching His Word or seeking His face in prayer. We can come to conclusions about what His Word says on a subject or what His path is for our lives. This is dangerous because it can either cause to run out ahead of the Lord in presumption, forsaking His covering or it causes us to not come to the Lord out of fear, avoiding and doubting His presence, nature, and goodness. I Corinthians 2:11-12 tells us, "In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we might understand what God has freely given us."
The wonderful news for us to receive and act on is this: when we bring our cares, our hurts, our dreams, and our hearts to the Lord He does more than just take hold of them. He WORKS on them so that they are answered, they are healed, and they are brought into perfect alignment with His love and will. Our lives, faith, and future hope is all held together by the One who brings us close to Himself and covers all that comes our way!