… He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world… For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith… — II Peter 1:4-5
Of course there have been other “tragedies” in my life since the one described in the first entry of this series. Through a more recent trial, God convicted me of the need for accountability in my life, something I’ve avoided in the past because of pride and independence. I thought, “I’m not doing anything wrong and I don’t want people in my business.” But God is using this season of my life in graduate school to develop accountability, beginning with one area of my life: work. In retrospect, I realize God has been sending me this message for some time, and I finally got to a point of desperation so that I obeyed.
Thankfully God always provides for what He commands.[i] One of my Christian friends in graduate school also was looking for more accountability through the dissertation process. We came to the table to work on developing an accountability structure that works for both of us, laying out our goals, concerns, and hopes for this new process/venture. Through my conversation with her, I was convicted specifically to discipline myself with a daily schedule.
(Ironically, scheduling was not something I thought I had an issue with. I mean, I used to even schedule when I would do laundry! And years before, I proudly presented my weekly schedule to a group of my graduate student peers, all nicely color-coded in an Excel spreadsheet.)
Alas, the very morning I put this new structure to my day, disciplining my mind and body to study the Word, eat, work, and exercise, I received a phone call. I was offered a prestigious position at the very place where I believed God was leading me! What an amazing blessing. God is a master of “suddenly”![ii]
Yet that same week, the enemy attacked me with feelings of doubt, confusion, and incompetence. Just as we should expect opposition to the new things God is birthing in our lives, we should expect opposition following a victory. Think about it: Immediately after Jesus was baptized and publicly received God’s approval and love[iii] – quite an auspicious beginning to His ministry – Jesus was led into the wilderness and tempted by the devil!
It is important to distinguish that exercising discipline and exerting effort does not mean “works of the flesh,” or trying to bring about your desires in your own power. The flesh accomplishes nothing.[iv] At the same time, we are co-laborers with God.[v] There are things we must do, and the first of which is to seek Him.[vi] Our work is to believe.[vii] Trust Him.[viii]
As this three-part series concludes, let me highlight some themes. Spiritual growth can come from the tragedies in our lives. Expect opposition when you are moving in God’s purpose for your life, and immediately after a victory, when you least expect it. May we be continually conformed[ix] and transformed[x], holding fast to the lessons we are learning along the way.
- What are some practical ways you can exercise effort in the areas in your life to which God is calling you to be more diligent?
- Who can you trust to hold you accountable?
- What lessons from your current situation does God want you to bring with you to the next level where He is taking you?
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your great and exceedingly precious promises. Show us how to invest the time You give us. Let us be diligent, not to earn Your love, but to fulfill Your purpose – to take us to another level of Your glory. Help us hold fast to hope so that You may be glorified. Amen.
[i] St. Augustine’s prayer: “Lord, command what you will and grant what you command.”
[ii] T.D. Jakes, “Nothing that you have been through will be wasted” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsDU-aXu0FM
[iii] Matthew 3:17
[iv] John 6:63
[v] I Corinthians 3:9
[vi] Matthew 6:33
[vii] John 6:29
[viii] Proverbs 3:5-6
[ix] Romans 8:29
[x] II Corinthians 3:18
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