Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Confidence without Effort
Today on Glenn Beck, Glenn (yes, we're on a first name basis) played a recording of Edward R. Murrow that is going to be used in the near future in some sort of an advertisement campaign. (Not for Glenn, but for windows, I think.) But this quote has stuck with me all day, because its truth is covers a pretty wide range of application. Murrow was a journalist who witnessed a myriad of world events, since he lived from 1908 until 1965.
The quote comes from a radio program recorded in 1961, in regards to Soviet/U.S. tensions:
"Well, I would like to say this: confidence by itself, without effort, does not win contests. Victory in this conflict depends on much, much more than confidence..."
Here's where my mind has gone. Confidence without effort does not win contests. How many believers today live their lives with confidence in God without any effort and then wonder why they struggle in the contests of life?
As many of you know, God has allowed me to come alongside sisters in Christ in their time of need. Some call it counseling. I call it discipleship in crisis. What I find most of the time is a woman who started with confidence in God but when the rough waters began to tip her boat, her confidence quickly turned into fear and panic.
Why would God allow this to happen to me? I am a good Christian - I love my husband, I raise my children in the church, I go to ladies Bible studies - why is God abandoning me now? Is He really there at all? I feel so alone...
When I dig a little deeper, I have found that her confidence in God was relatively effortless and based on Sunday School altar calls from her childhood. Oh, yes, she does go to church and pray and she might even read the Bible occasionally. But when there is no real effort put into her relationship with Christ (knowing Him, understanding Him, drawing near to Him with the purpose to imitate Him, glorify Him and serve Him), when the contests of life arise, defeat is almost certain. At least temporary defeat.
Here's my point: Salvation is completely effortless. The Christian life is completely effort-full.
Jesus takes all the credit for salvation, so don't even think that I am advocating works salvation. But I am advocating lordship salvation. A true follower of Christ has a deep relationship and dependency on Him, beyond the confession and repentance of sins. When you make Him Lord of your life, there is effort involved. And unfortunately, in the midst of a crisis in a terrible time to start honing your spiritual disciplines. As my husband says, you cannot have success in the crisis unless you have success in the process. Get the process going before the crisis hits. It's a much better way to handle things.
Think of it this way. If you got married but completely ignored your spouse - didn't eat with him, didn't do his laundry, never made his side of the bed, didn't really talk to him much, but smiled at him occasionally and every day thanked him for the beautiful home you live in, then what kind of marriage would you have? Marriage is hard work. It takes blood, sweat and tears. It takes communication and understanding and...well, it takes time.
Same with Christianity. You need to have time with God. Many of my counselees tell me they pray all the time. Great! They're doing all the talking, though. They need to let God communicate to them, as well, through His Word. This takes time and effort. And I am not talking about reading a book on marriage or how not to be such a worry-wart. I am talking about good, one-on-one time in the Word, seeking His face, learning about Him, listening to His voice and just basking in His glory.
Good old-fashioned Bible study.
So, Mr. Murrow was right - Confidence without effort doesn't win contests. We must support our confidence in God by building our relationship with Him. Trust me, He'll never run out of things to say...