There is help for us as we cross the “Monkey Bars of Life”

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(this is another installment of Bible Study/Devotion from my memorizing/meditating effort in Deuteronomy 4-10)

* 4:4 When the Israelites were tested at Baal-Peor, some of the Israelites followed Baal-Peor and were judged by God, but there were others who HELD FAST to The Lord and God preserved their lives
*10:20 -21- -as part of a benediction, or summary of the faith, the Israelites were told to “Fear The Lord your God and serve Him. HOLD FAST to Him and take your oaths in His name. He is the one you praise; He is your God…”

The point of HOLDING FAST is dependence on Him for the long term. Its not an uncommon thing to hear about someone going through a crisis and they’ll turn to God in desperation because they realize that this crisis is beyond their control.

When the crisis is over and it comes time to moving on with life, often their relationship with God gets shelved and they resume living like they did before the crisis.

This common cycle of doing life (having God on the sidelines), then looking for God’s help to deal with a crisis (desperately reaching out for Him), then back to doing life on your own after the crisis is over (putting God back on the sidelines), etc. is also a pattern we see played out by the Israelites so clearly in the Book of Judges.

After the Israelites left Egypt, they journeyed to the vicinity of the Promised Land. However, due to their lack of trust and obedience, God judged them and send them back in the wilderness to wander for forty years.

When they came back to the Promised Land, they were ready to enter and follow God’s leadership. This next period of time was a time of conquest: attempting to remove the pagan peoples who occupied the land. As time went on, the Israelites began to put behind them all the years of war, struggle, and sacrifice. They began looking to pursue comfort and blending in with the culture, tolerating, and even accepting the pagan practices of the peoples still living in the land. No longer were the Israelites wanting to risk their lives to purge the land from ungodly influences (sound familiar).

Some time ago, I was on a set of monkey bars at a playground. I held on to a bar above me to see how long I could hold on (unfortunately, it was just seconds).Between my weight, the weakness of my arm strength, and gravity, the pressure to not hang on for long was very powerful and I dropped to the ground.

In a similar way, there is enormous pressure for us, as Christians to not stay long in consistent faithfulness in our faith. However, God’s desire for us in living the Christian life is to persevere in our dependence on Him and faithfulness to Him. His desire is for us to be faithful for the long haul.

Think of it like being in a relationship. How happy would your spouse be, or your friend, if one day you were faithful to them, and the next day you were betraying them? How pleased with you would they be if you ignored them for a while to give all your attention to someone else? Or while you were with your spouse, your eyes keep wandering at all the attractive people around you.

God loves each and every one of us so incredibly much. Because of His immense love for us, He comes to each of us as a concerned Heavenly Father and says, “trust Me in this, HOLD FAST to Me (cling to ME) and I will take care of you. Your life will be so much more filled with joy, and contentment, and meaning if you put aside anything else that competes with Me for your passion.”

There is one major difference in the analogy I mentioned earlier of holding on to a monkey bar and being faithful in our Christian walk, and that is we do not have to do it alone. As Christians, we are supported by the existence of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of each us, who can help us HOLD FAST to our faith no matter what the pressures and temptations we experience.

How confident should that make us act if we understand the truth that we are supported by the Holy Spirit! With His help, we don’t have to fall from the “monkey bars of life”! He is there to be our guide, our encourager our strength, our comfort, etc. He says to each of us, “I’ve got you. You won’t fall. I will lift you up and support you as you deal with this next struggle (think monkey bar). I will also be there for you as you take the risk of grabbing for the next bar in your life and support you all the way in this transition. I will be there for you -just cling to me. HOLD FAST to me! Keep trusting in My love for you and My abilities! How awesome is that!

Lastly, because life is a struggle, there will be times using our analogy of life as monkey bars that we will think, “I don’t need God, I can do it myself”. During those times, we will be able to hang on to a bar, but only for a relatively short time, then we will begin to fall.

But, again, He will be there to catch us. He will not condemn us for trying to do it alone, but lovingly will point out the foolishness of our independent attitude. He will forgive us, but will gently inquire of us, “what benefit did you then derive from the things of which you are now ashamed (Romans 6:21 nasb).

Hold fast to God and enjoy His strength and presence as you move along the “monkey bars” of life.

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