Devotional | Matt Cartwright | Jan 28, 2024
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
I grew up in the small town of Bethel Acres, Oklahoma. We had some acreage, and it was a great place to explore, build treehouses, and play in our creek. Occasionally, during a big rain storm, our creek banks would flood. Water would rush over our gravel driveway and at times was impassable. Dad and I would wade out and clean out any debris that was creating a dam and making things worse. There was always a concern that the cattle guard (a series of metal pipes spaced just enough so a cow could not cross) would wash away making things a lot worse! I remember sitting in the back seat of the car as a kid, holding my breath, hoping our driveway was still intact, as Dad slowly drove until we felt the washboard rhythm of the cattle guard under our tires … And we made it!
I never felt too worried or scared because I knew Dad would not drive if it was dangerous. And, while all I could see was the red water overflowing our creek, Dad knew more. He had vertical metal posts welded to the frame of the cattle guard. If you don’t see the posts, the bridge is gone! He also knew what was underneath all the water. Replacing gravel, concrete, and stones to make it safer and sturdier.
I think that’s the way it is with God. When I sit in the backseat and cross my fingers hoping “God’s got this,” I have to force myself to pause and remember, he knows more than I do! Not just that, but he has prepared me for rough times. He’s made a way that is sturdy and sure. Even though all I see is rushing, muddy water, I remember that just below that surface is the strength I need to endure. Strength found in Christ during an uncertain (or painful) time is secure and not circumstantial or surface level.
The best way to experience that strength is to take the back seat. James commands us to submit ourselves to God (4:7), and he even introduces his letter as “servant of God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” The position of the Christ-follower is anywhere but the driver's seat. In verse eight, James gives the command to “draw near to God” but with a promise that “he will draw near to you.” There are many ways to draw near to God. His Scriptures include true and proper worship (e.g. Romans 12:1), giving up our old habits and ways (e.g. Colossians 3), and walking through life with fellow believers (e.g. Hebrews 10:24-25). Worship, repentance, and community, along with prayer, are good ways to remind ourselves we are putting our trust in Jesus and not our own abilities or limited understanding.
Putting our trust in Jesus means he is the object of our faith. In other words, this is not just a subjective, personal experience. The object of our faith is a holy, eternal, loving, righteous Savior who makes right (justifies) before God all those who believe and receive that faith. How amazing is that! This also means that the amount of faith/trust we have doesn’t factor into this equation at all. His power saves us, his strength reconciles us to God, and as believers we benefit. Just like crossing the driveway as a kid, I may at times cautiously hold my breath and timidly proceed, but the strength was in the thing that was secure all along—the unseen but experienced security found in Christ.
Heavenly Father, you have a perspective and view of my circumstances that is beyond my comprehension. You see me, know me, love me, and have provided a way for me to feel your security and strength. That way is through a life that is fully devoted to following Christ. I confess that I struggle giving up control in my life. Lord, I pray that when I am weak you strengthen me, when I am fearful you embolden me, and when I desire control you remind me of your good and loving nature. Amen
Matt CartwrightPastor of Men’s Ministry - OKC Location
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