Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.’”
- Proverb 28:14
“All Christians believe in God, but many Christians have little time for God. They are too busy with everyday affairs to be taken up with Bible reading, prayer, and being thoughtful to their fellowmen. Many of them have lost the spirit of a zealous discipleship. If you ask them if they are Christians, they would probably answer, ‘I think so,’ or, ‘I hope so.’ They may go to church at Easter and Christmas and on other special occasions, but otherwise they have little time for God. They have crowded God out of their lives. The Bible warns against the neglect of your soul. It is possible to harden your heart and shrivel your soul, until you lose your appetite for the things of God. This hunger, then, that you should have is a desire to be always right with God. It is a consciousness that all searching for peace of heart except in Him is in vain.”
- Billy Graham, Day by Day with Billy Graham (Devotion for 21 December)
We all have “one of those days,” a day when you are less zealous for the Lord, a day when you had that famous “eye disease” – can’t see your way to church disorder, a day when a slight headache becomes a major issue when it is your usual time to read the Bible, a day when we “hope” we are a true believer. Okay that last one might be a stretch. No matter how much “circumstance” causes me to feel sorry for myself for a few hours, I still know that I belong to Jesus and He is right there, no matter how much lack of enthusiasm that I can muster.
But my wife was saying something on our way home from a downtown doctor’s appointment that hit a spot in my memory that I had not thought of in some time. When I first got out of the army, I went to work at a government nuclear site in South Carolina. It was run at the time by a famous chemical company. I had always wanted to work for them. The job that I was hired to do was what I had great success with while in the army. I thought that I would repeat that success again and then affect a transfer to the chemical side of things. But the people hiring me lied about taking that career path and they lied about what they wanted me to do. To make it worse, my boss had a personality conflict with me.
Suddenly, I was not getting a promotion or even a pay increase. I was given the work of every engineer that found work somewhere else (because I could handle the heavier load). And my engineering career may not have been dead, but it was on life support.
The other managers saw what my boss was doing, and they felt sorry for me. Each had an idea of how I could supplement my income. I could sell this or do that. But as I broke down what they were suggesting, they each suggested something that was legal, but it took advantage of people who did not know the value of what I was selling or doing for them. I would work all day on one job and then work nights and weekends – basically cheating people – in order to make the next mortgage payment.
My wife had said that she could not live with herself if we had ever knowingly cheated another human being.
Sometimes, those decisions come at a heavy price. Frankly, while my wife was going to college, I played the financial shell game, when there was no pea under any of the shells (shuffling debt from one hand to the other), just to pretend to be making ends meet. And I did so knowing that I could get out of debt by taking advantage of others. But I refused that route.
Billy Graham paints a picture of a defeated life, and I did not want that type of life. I wanted to have time left over to do things with my family. Even if the fun had to be free fun because we had already run out of cash for that month.
When I read the Billy Graham devotion, I wondered how many of those people, who had little time for God, were rewarded with earthly blessings. I remember something that C. S. Lewis wrote.
“Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels he is ‘finding his place in it,’ while really it is finding its place in him.”
- C. S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters
God does not promise us an easy life, but He promises to share our load and help us in our time of need.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.