Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Easy Streets and Long Roads" - by Stuart McAllister

In Issue 1 of "Home Educating Family" (2010), I came across this little one page article by Stuart McAllister. I had read it once, quickly, and then continued on into the rest of the magazine... but tonight, as I was doing one last flip through before recycling the issue - I read it again. It was timely & I wanted to share it.

"The Bible rings with some serious stories of faith, and the men and women involved become examples to those of us who reach for faith. We admire with reverence the way that these men and women of old dealt with difficult odds and how God accomplished incredible things through them. But what would happen in our own lives if we were given the chance to fight the same fight? Would we rise to the challenge?

I'm afraid that in our day, we often live with a glaring contradiction. We want to know God. We want God to be real and we want life to have deep meaning. And yet we want all this without any serious cost or effort.

We tend to assume that life is best when the waters are still—that life is best during those times when everything "makes sense." "This is how it's supposed to be," we tell ourselves. But just as soon as we do, the water around us gets rough, our boats are rocked, and we are back in another struggle of one kind or another. What's going on in these times? Why doesn't God just allow us to stay comfortable and content? Are the bad times merely distortions of the way life should be? Should the road of faith be an easy one?

Consider some key figures in the Bible and what they went through: Abraham was asked to give up his own son, the prize of his life, and he was willing to do it. Moses could have stayed in Egypt and enjoyed the pleasures of royalty, but instead he led the people of Israel through years of struggle. Because of his faith, the prophet Daniel defied a king, risking death in a lion's den. The three young men were willing to go into the burning furnace because of their faith, whether God rescued them or not. Before he was king, David patiently endured the rage of Saul because he believed God. Esther courageously risked her life to go before the king and beg for his mercy with the strength of these marvelous words: "If I perish, I perish" (Esther 4:16).

It was in the toughest acts of faith that these men and women came the closest to God and found life's deepest meaning. It was not the provision of comfort or happiness that led them to a deeper knowledge of God—it was often the lack of it. Is it possible that a life where everything stays calm and unchallenged isn't what we really need? Does peace mean as much if we never experience calamity? Do our hearts ring with gratitude if we are never in want? Does happiness bring as bright a smile if we never taste sadness?

Let us not idealize an easy life, or we may find that life becomes hollow. The writer of Hebrews has a much better challenge: "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" (Hebrews 12:1). The one we follow, the author and perfecter of our faith, lived a life of similar proportions, who for the joy set out before him endured the Cross, scorning its shame. He now sits at the right hand of the throne of God, beckoning us onward. "
**Stuart McAllister is vice president of training and special projects at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.**

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