What is your spiritual background? No, I don’t mean your religious background — as in what church, synagogue, mosque or temple you attended; what holy book’s instructions you have worked to keep; or what religion you believe is the answer to all the world’s questions — but the experiences that have made up the structure and support of your spirit?
More simply, what has made you what you are today, what gives you hope for the future, and stability for today?
If everything you hold dear in your life were lost, what would your spirit have to hold onto, by what strength would it live?
If all the trappings of your religion were somehow inaccessible to you, what would you be standing on?
If your heart sank, and your body failed, would there be anything to raise you up?
These may sound like outlandish questions, but the reality is that every faith can hold us up in summer but, can we trust those beliefs to remain pliable and useful in the dead of winter?
I have seen what it is like to have answers once so sure get blown up by questions that are too big and uncomfortable to compliantly nest inside them. I don’t know whether you are currently enjoying summer, or resenting winter, but it’s critical to your life that your beliefs can take you through each one.
In the spring of the year I experienced the fiercest winter I had ever known. Everything that I had once been so sure of — even arrogantly flaunting — was suddenly insufficient to weather the assault made on my soul.
Where do you turn when this happens?
What I used to call “home” for my soul had been washed out and frozen under, while I stood forlorn and afraid in the blizzard wailing around me. I hadn’t known that my house was not insured with a no-collapse guarantee; I thought because I believed it was strong, and it had always stood for everything else, that it was safe and secure.
How appalling to learn the truth when it’s too late. If this is where you are, as long as you have life, there is still a chance to rebuild. But, opportunity comes with a cost and a stern warning:
The second time you must not naively build with the same foundation and approach that you contracted the first time. If it falls once, it cannot be trusted. And you would waste your life to reinvest in it.
This ought to a reality abundantly clear to us when everything comes crashing down on us, and takes us down with it, but some of us are stubborn, choosing, instead, to pretend that things aren’t so bad as they now seem.
But, how can we ever rebuild, how can we ever know anything better than what we have now, if we will refuse to admit that we don’t have enough to live on right now?
For building materials we have but two to choose from: sand and Rock. One is common and inexpensive, the other rare and priceless. The first will go well with anything you bring to it, the second is of such choice composition, that it will not agree with anything you bring of lesser and unproven value.
This may sound disheartening, but think about it: Would you rather forever hold onto everything you have — whose worth is merely transient — or reach out for something that is inestimable enough to establish your entire inheritance?
Let us be wise, then, and choose to set our lives upon that which has the power to keep us — though perhaps not our present treasures — in all storms and violence of this earth and eternity.
Yes, there is sacrifice involved even in taking hold of the infinitely priceless. But, when we try to balance the weight of sacrifice for claim of the Rock versus sacrifice for claim of the sand we may freely mold ourselves, the values don’t come out even. Indeed, the price of sacrifice is always in proportion to the reward we seek.
Yet, regardless, we will be sacrificing for whatever we get, so might we not aim high in expectation of obtaining a reward that will outstrip all loss we may experience?
I ran to the “Life-House” that promised me more than what I could expect from fashioning my own safe-house from the sand. No, I will not have the same lee-way to demand what I want in architecture and presentation from the Rock, but if I could, it would be no more excellent then the sand below.
I want the Rock that doesn’t move, but moves me to higher ground, moorings that are more sure than a structure that tempts the sea to transform my work to sludge that will go with it anywhere.
Christ offers us more than that: His body will become our own, while His Spirit will sustain us from deep inside. The vapors of my dreams may blow away while I’m with Him, but there is no danger of our separation. I will not be shaken by any threat of fear, for nothing can estranged from the One who is the Solid, Unshakable and wholly Impenetrable. He is my Refuge and Strength, and in Him I am fully assured of the outcome I shall have in this life, and what I shall then experience in the next.