I suppose that I should stop thinking that the Christian life is supposed to get easier the older I get.
Granted, there are some things that come more easily to me now, twenty-one years into my walk with Christ. Prayer is becoming more and more a first response than a last-ditch effort. I think I’m a little less prone to hold a grudge than I was last year, or the year before that, or the year before that. I’m actually beginning to crave time in God’s Word, not just learning facts that might come in handy should I ever appear on “Jeopardy!”, but learning who God is and how He is and how much He loves me.
While I’m truly grateful for the witnessing ways in which I have grown in my walk with God, I am keenly aware of those areas in which I still struggle. There’s a great temptation to become frustrated over my seeming lack of maturity in these areas. It seems that for every battle I win, every bad habit or sinful attitude conquered, another warrior springs up to take the defeated one’s place. Some days I limp home, battle-scarred and weary, feeling very much defeated. A voice nags at me, Shouldn’t you have conquered that habit by now? Shouldn’t you struggle with that less by now? If you were a “real” Christian you wouldn’t sin so much, you wouldn’t do X, Y, or Z. Can you relate?
At life group on Sunday we talked a little about the constant battles we face and how often we give in to temptation, despite our years of faithful Christianity. Someone pointed out that recognizing our sins is not necessarily a bad thing–the more we sense our sins, the more we sense our need for God. It is a mature Christian who can see her own sins, and who recognizes how unworthy she is to stand before God. In recognizing our extreme sinfulness and unworthiness, we also recognize God’s extreme holiness, and His extreme grace in forgiving us and seeing us clothed in righteousness by the blood of His Son.
So perhaps realizing what a screw-up I am is not such a bad thing after all. Not that I should be content to be a screw-up, but maybe I need to accept that there will always be battles to face, and there will always be some days when I trudge home in defeat–but that defeat is only temporary. Truly, the ultimate battle has already been won. My walk with God may not necessarily be getting easier, but it is getting better all the time.
What do you think? In what ways has your Christian walk become easier through the years? In what ways has it become more difficult?