“In these lines I have urged and affirmed that this is the genuine grace of God. Stand firm in it.” 1 Peter 5:12 CEB
Last week I traveled to Overland Park, Kansas for a conference concerning The United Methodist Church. When I returned, I was riding the train to the economy parking garage. The train is designed for the passengers to stand while it is moving at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. While riding the train I was reminded of the scripture above. The tracks the train rides on are not super smooth. There are places along the ride where the train lurches one direction or the other. I found myself being tossed around and hanging on to the handrail very tightly. I also had to change my stance. I went from a very relaxed stance where my feet were fairly close together to a wide stance waiting for the next change in direction. As I widened my stance and grew more alert to the direction of the train I was able to stay upright and steady. It made my experience on the train much better.
I believe life is like this train ride. We are often tossed around as life changes directions on us without much notice. We are cruising along in one direction and then we are tossed to one side by a health issue. Once we adjust to this issue we are tossed a different direction by an unexpected financial issue. The ride continues and we find ourselves adjusting to a multitude of changes in direction, which throw us off balance. These changes can even disorient us and cause us to lose our sense of direction altogether. There may even be long straightaways where we think things have all leveled out only to find another bump or curve just ahead. It’s a wild ride this life we live with a lot of bumps, uneven tracks, and sharp turns along the way.
So, what do we do when life throws us off balance? What do we do to move forward in the way that God wants for our life?
This is where our faith is so important. When life throws us a curve, we need to widen our stance. We need to stand firm. This is what the Apostle Peter was writing about in the fifth chapter of his first letter. He told them this about what he wrote, “In these lines I have urged and affirmed that this is the genuine grace of God. Stand firm in it.” The genuine grace of God to which Peter is referring is that we will be tossed around by life’s changes, and even hardships, for a while—but this will be overcome by God restoring, empowering, strengthening, and establishing us. What Peter calls us to do in the midst of life’s turns and bumps is to stand firm in the genuine grace of God. We widen our faith stance and rely on Jesus to sustain us. We rely on the firm foundation of our faith—Jesus Christ. Consider the lyrics to the hymn How Firm a Foundation:
Fear not, I am with the: oh be not dismayed
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply
The flame shall not hurt thee: I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
Standing firm in our faith can also be called faithfulness. When life throws us a curve, we remain faithful. We widen our stance to stand firm in our faith. We rely on the genuine grace of God as found in Jesus. What curves have come your way recently? Where have you gotten off balance? Where do you need to widen your stance? Where is Jesus asking you to remain faithful? Trust that God will restore, empower, strengthen, and establish you in faith. This is our witness to our faith when we stand firm in faithfulness.
This Sunday we continue the message series entitled “Chosen.” We will explore the way we are chosen by Jesus and set apart as faithful followers in the world. I hope you will join me this Sunday at 8:15|NINE45|11:15 for worship. You can also go to SAUMC.NET and join us via livestream. The best is yet to come. I love you all and can’t wait to see you in church!