I had a conversation recently in which the concept of commitment to a lifestyle came up. The context was commitment to our faith. During the conversation, I recalled the scene from the movie The Shawshank Redemption in which Brooks, an elderly man who had spent virtually his entire adult life in prison, had been released from prison. He found himself to be a foreigner in a world of freedom. The pace of life was overwhelming and unfamiliar to him. Despite the confinement and restrictions of prison life, it was familiar and even comforting to him. This is called being institutionalized.
In describing my level of commitment to my faith, I used this same word. Despite the fact that I lived the first 18 years of my life without any type of faith or commitment to God, or much of anything else, at the age of 44 now, I know no other life. It’s not that I have no other choice of a lifestyle to live. It’s that I’ve eliminated the option of walking away from from my faith. When you’ve made a choice and there is no turning back, you’re left with one option when the going gets though. You deal with it. You stick with it. I’ve been through some of the most difficult times in my life just within the past year and a half. But at no time did the thought ever come to just walk away from my faith.
I think of Job in the Old Testament. I don’t dare compare my trials to his, but this man is the poster child for what I’m talking about. Satan was out to prove to God that no one serves the Lord out of pure devotion, but instead, of a selfish motive of material wealth and blessings. Life was good for Job. Of course he loved God. He had a great family, a great business, good health. God called Satan’s bluff. Satan let Job have it. Stripped him of everything. His business, his family, and even his health.
Job’s friends, and even his wife all told him to just give up. There were times when Job wondered why his life had blown up the way it did. He wondered why wicked people prospered. He asked “why me?“
Ever been there?
Even after his life had completely fallen apart, after his friends showed complete ignorance and insensitivity, and his own wife turned her back on God, Job uttered these words:
“Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.” (Job 13:15)
When Job chose to love and serve God, he closed and locked the door behind him. There was no turning back no matter what happened. To Job, there was no other life. If walking away from God meant he would get all the comforts of his life back, but in exchange it would cost him his personal and intimate relationship with God, it wasn’t worth it.
About all Job and I have in common is that we’re male and require oxygen in our lungs. But I’d like to add one more thing. I want to be able to say that I trust God even in the most terrible moments of my life…and mean it! Turning back is not an option. There is nowhere else to go but to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). Even when I question “why?”, I will trust that even if I never get an answer, He is God…and I’m not.
I’m not here for the wealth. Hello! Have you met me? I’m not here for the comfort. I’m not here for fame. I’m here because God has shown me mercy and grace. I’m alive because He has chosen to bring me into being.
I will not turn my back on Him who died for me…no matter what.