This devotional is not really about spitting—it is a little about wind—and a lot about life. I am typing this on my laptop computer as I sit in my wife’s Intensive Care Unit room at the George Washington University Hospital in Washington D.C. While on vacation here a couple of days ago Pat suffered a potentially serious heart problem, but thankfully, doctors expect her to fully recover.
So, this got me to thinking about life, diet, exercise, health and other matters of the heart. My exercise of choice is to briskly walk several miles early in the morning. Last winter I walked one day when the temperature was a few degrees below freezing, and the wind was gusting in 10 mile an hour blasts, straight out of the north. Since half of my route was north and the other half was returning south, I was having a lot of negative, whiny thoughts as I walked north. But when I turned back to the south, everything was better. So, I thought, maybe I should walk my entire 3 miles going south. That way the wind would be at my back. I would certainly be warmer. I could avoid the bitter wind and resulting negative thoughts. The only obvious problem was that when I finished my walk, I would be 3 miles from home. So, I did some quick math, and figured the best thing would be for me to bite the bullet, and face the wind for half the walk, so I could end up where I wanted to be when I finished.
Life is a lot like that. If you always walk with the wind at your back, you will never get where you need to be. Life is made up of pleasant and unpleasant things—Good and bad things—events both joyful and painful. When people join in the happy and holy bonds of matrimony, they promise to stay together whether “for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, for better or for worse, until death do us part.”
Serving the Lord is much the same way. It is at once both lovely and difficult. Many people think if you are serving the Lord rightly, everything will go well. They also wrongly think that if you are facing difficulty or hardship, you must not be doing the will of God. But that is not true on either count. That is not realistic. In fact, that is not even Biblical.
Try selling Abraham that formula for success in life. He left his home and family, endured sorrow, and waited 25 years for God’s promised son. Then after Isaac finally arrived, God commanded Abraham to take his son to a mountain and offer him as a sacrifice. Talk about tough decisions and wondering “why?” But Abraham kept on doing right, obeying God, serving and trusting Him, even when God’s will may not have made sense to him.
What would Joseph think if you told him, as long as you are serving the Lord rightly, everything will go well? Joseph was doing God’s will, yet was despised by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused by his master’s wife, and spent two years confined in a prison cell. But Joseph was faithful, and kept on doing right and obeying God. God saw to it that it ended well, to the saving of his whole family. But even that was not without a lot of sorrow.
The only perfect person who ever lived, who deserved no heartache or pain, carried the weight of the sin of the world, was abused, despised, afflicted and crucified. His disciples also learned that serving Jesus was not without cost, as all but one willingly suffered martyrdom for Him.
Do you know anyone who never had a problem? Can you name one human in the Bible, who always triumphed, and never failed? Can you think of one person whose life was always painless? The nearest to this ideal may be a man Jesus referred to in Luke 16. Do you remember him? The rich man who died the same day as Lazarus? After a lifetime of nothing but success, Jesus said about him, “…in hell, he lifted up his eyes, being in torments,” (Luke 16:23).
The secret of success in the Christian Life is to endure the difficult, and enjoy the blessing! It is possible for a person to be in the very center of the will of God and be betrayed by his brethren, threatened by his enemies, wrongly accused by his friends, and imprisoned because of false allegations…. But, at the very same time, that same one may be a powerful witness for Christ, an unexcelled leader in the faith, a teacher of preachers, and a church planter in many lands…. Just ask the Apostle Paul!
Those experiences allowed Paul to write the Corinthians and share his joy of future service this way: “For a great door, and effectual, is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (I Cor. 16:9). Life is made up of great opportunities and stubborn obstacles. Life is meant to be both enjoyed and endured. Both parts make up the whole.
Remember that walk into the chilling wind? We learn from our walk for exercise, and from our walk for Christ: If you always walk with the wind at your back, you will never get where you need to be, or where the Lord wants you to be. May we all learn from the words of Jesus to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).