Walking the ridge line
While Florida is basically flat, still you may have traveled to hike in the mountains. So, have you ever tried to walk a ridge line? Walking along a mountain ridge is extremely difficult because gravity in its power pulls at you, and very quickly, you can be off the ridge line, moving almost unwillingly down one side or the other.
The theologian J.I. Packer uses this tension to describe the difficulty of holding together twin realities that fight within our hearts and minds. How can we simultaneously hold onto both claims that 1) our world is truly dangerous and that 2) in Christ we have unshakeable hope?
Dangers abound, within and without. Inside us, we can struggle mightily over the right thing to do in what the Bible calls our flesh. There are temptations. We leave good things undone. We easily transgress across boundaries marked with fences and “No Trespassing” signs. And on the outside, the world and forces of spiritual darkness fight, entice, accuse, attack and undercut our efforts to live for good. Love gets watered down. Boundaries get blurred. And good plans get sidetracked.
But then we are promised so much hope! Jesus has come for us (Christmas)!! He has died to atone for all of our sins (His death on the Cross). He has conquered all evil (by His resurrection)! And He has sealed within us His own Presence and power (He has poured out His Spirit into our hearts) as we repent and trust Him as our God and Savior.
So how can we “walk the ridge line”? First, recognize the marks of falling off the ridge line. If you tend to see things bleakly, as if it’s really bad out there and you’re not sure that “good” is going to win the fight, then you’re seeing the dangers without the hope. You’re likely drifting down one side of the ridge. Or if you over-spiritualize, if you minimize someone’s grief, or you have a hard time feeling sorrow, pain, or tension, then you may be drifting down the other side. Jesus has conquered sin, death and hell, but He has not eradicated all evil yet.
Learn to hold before your eyes both Jesus’ death and resurrection, both the Cross and the empty tomb. The Cross: dangers abound and we are part of this danger – we are all so broken that we deserve the death Jesus endured. Sin, pain, loss and humiliation are all real. They really sting! AND yet the empty tomb: God turns suffering to healing and death to life! Jesus’ victory is our victory. He has removed all of our guilt. He has claimed us as His and no one can separate us from Him. He has broken the powers of hell, even if He has not yet eradicated all evil. But He is going to! And until we see Him face-to-face, we walk the ridge line.
Things to pray for:
- Humility. Bow before the LORD to acknowledge your part in the brokenness of this world and your helplessness to fix it.
- Hope. Ask Jesus to give you eyes to see and ears to hear His good promises to conquer all aspects of everything wrong, by His death and resurrection.
- Trust in God’s Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you learn and trust what Scripture promises, even when it looks like evil is winning and God is inactive.
- Wisdom in living out God’s work in your space and time. Ask the Father to give you wisdom to live in light of His power over and against everything wrong in you and in His world.