Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Not to Be Discouraged


Martin Luther once said something to the following effect:

"A little bird flies past your head and you sense the breeze, and for a moment you are curious, and perhaps interested. That is temptation. A little bird flies up to your head, hovers, and then you invite him to build a nest in your hair. That is sin."

This was the observation of a man who in his early days was tormented by the nature of thoughts which came to his mind. As a young priest he struggled incessantly to remain holy before an awesome God, but all to no avail. Then he discovered grace.

We know from the scriptures that it is possible to be tempted and yet not found in sin. Even Christ encountered this. Consider Hebrews 4:

14Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

We hear this teaching a dozen times, and yet when the angry or lustful or deceitful or envious thought comes, we collapse in self-pity and condemnation. Satan uses the occasion to whisper over the shoulder:

"Some representative of Christ you are! That kind of tendency is disgusting. You are either a failure or a fraud. You might as well give up on the Christian effort. It is too difficult. You are missing out on a good time. It was never really meant for you."

May I point you to another illustration? In that beautiful film "Chariots of Fire" (1981) Harold Abrahams, an Olympic runner in the 1924 competition, is being trained behind the scenes by Sam Mussabini, a professional sprinting coach. There is a mixture of comedy and courageous resolve in the collage of scenes of the training.
All sorts of ground conditions, weather and times of day. The comical little coach, complete with walking stick is determined to achieve that perfect start, style and acceleration. He poses, squats, jumps, high-steps, gesticulates, rants, cajoles, smiles and cheers. The athlete keeps on listening, trying, stumbling and eventually succeeding in all phases of the training. Periodically the look on his face betrays discouragement and almost defeat. But the trainer never gives up. He has taken on this assignment. He will see it through. The gold medal is won.

Can anything less be said about a loving, all-powerful Heavenly Father who has chosen you, fellow Christian, unto glory, for reasons known only to Himself?

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