I choose to deviate from the normal “Halloween” post to looking at this time of year for the honor we can give to those who have gone before us. Today is All Saints’ Day in the Western church. It’s the day we honor those who kept the faith, who fought the fight, who surrendered their lives to Christ to shine for Him. We honor saints, not as gods, as some naysayers have tried to allege, but as people worthy of respect for giving the entirety of their lives to Christ.
We as Wesleyans focus on holiness, or personal sanctity. Those are big words just to communicate that once we are saved by Christ through his reconciling us to Himself, we keep surrendering every bit ourselves that we can and that we know about so that He is known more and more through us as we live. What people see in us then is the power of God at work in us so that we can draw others to Himself.
We also do this because as we live our lives, we demonstrate Christ’s principles of surrendering our own lives to demonstrate His faith (Galatians 2:20). At the end of our lives, we will answer to Him for our reflection of Christ not just in our overarching mission, but in everyday, mundane instances, especially “to the least of these” (Matthew 25:40). It is VERY clear from Scripture that God values those who endure to the end (Matthew 24:13).
We need the redemptive power of Christ because on our own we would fail miserably at this lot. It is not uncommon for me to mess up before breakfast. Surrendering to God means wholeheartedly asking Him to redeem and lead every single part of my life, and to challenge Him with my most significant struggles. For me, this has been the admonition to both “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) and to not worry about my life (Matthew 6:25-34, as the larger segment).
This has been the sharpening edge God has used to redeem most of the aspects of my own life. From the time I was a child, I was confronted by the tenuousness not of life, but of PROVISION. We would drive through remote areas on the way to our ranch, and I would wonder how the cattle ranchers and the people in the small towns they lived close to would stay attached to the larger sea of humanity to have demand for the goods they were producing. It is as if God put in me at a young age the ability to see how we as humans are all part of the same big family, but I worried instead for their provision. This was deeply embedded in me as a worry for my OWN provision. I was less concerned with safety, and more concerned with provision.
At a fundamental level, I’ve had to let God demonstrate His absolute faithfulness around provision and recognize by stark contrast my own absolute fear that I would be provided for. And yes, even as a child, I was concerned about MY ability to have what I needed. Over time, God has demonstrated His faithfulness and recently I’ve been absolutely confronted by the folly of my own fear in this area.
That’s interesting, given the fact that we have been starkly confronted with challenges in having what we need. In the face of seeming breakdown of provision, did you have a want or need? I absolutely know during certain time periods; certain places HAVE been missing resources. In that case, how did you get along? What caused you to see the provision of God? I wager that despite our fears being valid, we have still seen that God has provided for us. Maybe not in the way we would have hoped, but He has carried us through some very treacherous times.
In that way, I want you to see yourself in part of the story of the saints. If we only isolate them and say we could never be like them, then we are not seeing the blessings of their lives. Their stories are to encourage and guide us as we seek to allow God to transform our lives daily. In our daily taking up our crosses, to follow Him, we have demonstrations from saints to show us that we too can allow God to transform us, action by action. We can identify ourselves with them and ask God to count our daily steps in asking to be transformed as evidence of our desire to be told at the end of our lives, “well done, good and faithful servant(s)!” (Matthew 25:23)
Today, what can you do to submit to God? What is YOUR biggest struggle? Can you identify with mine, wondering how God will provide? Are you willing to acknowledge that He wants to transform this area of your life, so you reflect Christ the Son, who advocated not worrying about your life?