Step into my car on a morning commute from days past. I'll enjoy your company as a means to break up the monotony.
Smell my coffee, yet please tell me you brought your own. Listen to the Christian tunes. But, most importantly, let your eyes gaze on some country sights of interest alongside Ohio State Rt. 350, northeast of Cincinnati.
For me, 3 recurring sights have become tied to one another and connected to a couple of specific verses:
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness" (Colossians 2:6-7, New International Version).
Around a bend before a series of curves that snake down a deep ravine, we gaze upon an elderly white-haired man. Likely in his 80s, he slowly shuffles to and from his antique shop that rests across the highway from his home.
His commute to work is much shorter than ours. Yet we wonder if the time to get to our respective places of work isn't about the same.
For how many decades -- in both good times and bad -- has that man persevered to make that walk? Not only has he started, or acquired, a business. He has stayed the course.
A necessity of the Christian life -- and a mark of spiritual maturity -- is a faith proved worthy over time. It is one thing to begin a personal relationship with Christ. It is another to see God's plan for us through to completion.
Even within ministry (yes, I have had those days) I sometimes wish that my commute would end somewhere other than at my desk. Paul's words to "continue to live in Christ" often remind me to keep on keepin' on.
To mature in Christ is to maintain a steadfast spiritual walk analogous to that daily trek of this old man.
Application: Throughout the Christian life, you will encounter multiple situations that require you to exercise increasingly more faith in God. Financial struggles, health concerns or family matters are but a few of the challenges you may face.
Read Colossians 2:6-7. Remember what it was like when you first placed your faith in Christ. Consider the state of your spiritual walk today. Have you any issues or concerns?
Talk to God in prayer -- openly, honestly. Hold nothing back. Then, articulate once more any longing of your heart to "continue in Him" in a walk of faith and dependence that perseveres.
The auto-pilot mode of slumber ends as we cruise past the sight of a majestic, gnarled, twisted tree that God placed in the middle of a rancher's field.
We wonder how long that tree had stood. By how many Midwest storms has it been battered? How deep, how penetrating, how strong are its roots?
The tree stands alone. Our lives can sometimes feel like that. Yet, almost as if a sole survivor, it portrays a certain resolve that I want to have in my life. Not on my own, of course. But with Christ, my all-sufficient source of strength.
Corrie ten Boom, a survivor of of Nazi concentration camps in World War II, had such spiritual resolve. In an interview she explained her experience had taught her that when the winds blow strong, the roots grow deep.
Confronted with trials, people become bitter or better. Adversity is not fun. Yet tough circumstances endured in Christ's strength can actually provide the nourishment we need for a more deeply-rooted, well-grounded spiritual walk.
Application: Read Colossians 2:6-7 once more. Consider your greatest anxiety in life.
In prayer, tell God about it. Then, reflect upon added scriptural truth(s) you've been taught that can help to supply the strength you need. Passages like Matthew 6:25-34 and Habakkuk 3:17-19 have helped forge a rootedness in Christ for me.
Continuing our commute, we observe a project in process as a guy renovates his home and seeks to create a man-made pond. The home is a masterpiece. The pond is quite another story.
Only after 6 long years will a baseball field-sized hole he dug at last hold water.
We wonder about the owner's thoughts. Is it a labor of love or a love that has become labor? In the midst of expense and time, has he been able to step back, pause a bit and just give thanks?
As we continue in our faith in Christ and find strength through what we have learned, gratitude is the response God desires. Like a well whose pump has been primed, a deeper faith, once tested, can bring forth praise from even the harshest of happenings.
Application: Read Colossians 2:6-7 one last time. Quietly sit a moment and reflect upon your life.
As experiences come to mind -- positive and negative alike -- take a moment to simply whisper the words, "Thank you, Lord." Trust that the Lord is in control, seeing you as a work in process.
With Christ as the strength of your life's commute, continue in Him, persevere in faith and allow your life to radiate with gratitude.
Thanks for traveling with me today. See you down life's road.
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