Until My Lord Release Me or Death Take Me

I often have to remind myself that the Christian life is a life of discomfort.

We must be uncomfortable with ourselves, striving to greater godliness and fleeing from our sin daily.

We must be uncomfortable with the extent of our knowledge of God, seeking His face and searching His word diligently, even desperately, every day.

We must be uncomfortable with the suffering of those around us, giving of our resources and compassion to those who are hurting or in need.

We must not seek comfort as our ultimate good in daily life, instead embracing the truth that there is greater gain in denying ourselves and living a life of servanthood and diligence.

This shouldn’t surprise us, because when we came to the foot of the cross and bowed before Christ as our King – we were enlisting.  We pledged our service there in a spiritual war against Satan, the world, and our sin.

John Bunyan compared the Christian life to a long, arduous journey.  The comparison is good, but in this day and place, when “journeying” involves sitting in an air conditioned vehicle with our iPods blasting and Starbucks in our cup holders, I think we’ve lost our sense of ardor and trial in traveling, so the analogy may be a little weak for many of us.

Like the Apostle Paul, I often compare the life of faith to a war, and the Christian to a soldier.  Not that most of us have more experience with war than with journeying…but for some reason it’s more relatable to me, personally.  Maybe that’s because I write fiction with wars in it, but don’t we all feel like we’ve “done battle” with sin?

“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” – 2 Timothy 2:3-4 (ESV)

I am no longer a disinterested civilian going about my own business, because I am “on duty” for God.

In Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Peregrin Took swore fealty to Gondor:

“Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor, and to the Lord and Steward of the realm, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need or plenty, in peace or war, in living or dying, from this hour henceforth, until my lord release me, or death take me, or the world end.”

That is our road.  We must put on our armor and carry our weapons at all times, because the devil prowls about like a lion looking for someone to devour.  Sometimes we have rest and reprieve, but often every day is a new battle.  We are soldiers – we are not free to laze around when there is a war to be fought.  I don’t mean we can never rest or enjoy the sweet blessings God gives us in life, but we must be wary that comfort is not our ultimate goal.

Taking the lazy way out is not an option.  When the kids start fighting, interrupting my moment on Facebook, and I yell at them from the couch instead of taking the time and effort to disciple their hearts, I’m caving.  I’m making comfort my god instead of God.  He is my King!  I should do all my work “as unto the Lord”.  As a Christian soldier, life is not a quest for my own happiness or peace-and-quiet, but His glory.

The Christian life is uncomfortable.  But despite that, there is a comfort to which we can – must! – cling.

“Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.  This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” – Psalm 119:49-50

“But Abraham said [to the rich man in hell], ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.’ ” – Luke 16:25

“Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” – 2 Corinthians 1:7

While those in the world may seek comfort and happiness as their ultimate goal, and often get it, those who do not have Christ have no ultimate comfort.  They soothe themselves with shadows; they please themselves with dim reflections of eternal joy, things that are not lasting and do not pass beyond the grave.  I must not live as one of them, because in Jesus I have been shown the love of God, an eternal and abiding comfort that does not age, fade, or grow old.

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2 Comments

  1. Just getting to this now. But thanks! Needed to hear that in my current re-location!

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