Do you remember when ....? Go ahead, fill in the blank. I am sure you have said it in conversation with friends or at family get togethers. I have even heard adolescents talk about when they were younger and how different things seemed. It is natural for us to reflect, compare and sometimes complain; "These kids don't know how good they've got it. In my day ..." You can fill in the blank. Often times such reflections are great for perspective and reminding us where we have come from. The same is true spiritually. The writer of Hebrews states:
Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. (Hebrews 10:32)
Yes, remember those first days after accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. For most people those were exciting days. We were so overjoyed at what we had discovered and we wanted all our friends and family to know. We probably drove them nuts, but it did not matter to us, we were willing to face any cost because Jesus had suffered for us. The writer continues:
Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. (Hebrews 10:33-34)
There was no price too great that could be asked of you; you were so on fire for the Lord! You were so in love with other believers; if someone dared to mention they were a believer you were all over them. If someone was suffering because of their faith you wanted in on the action. You gave away food and clothes, offered free babysitting or anything else to demonstrate the love of Christ. Remember how Jesus responded to you in those days? You felt so alive. Somestimes we need to remember back to those days when our faith seems a little thin and we are questioning whether we will make it:
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36)
I cannot understand people who give up when the end is in sight. It is like the student who drops out of school in grade 10. He has already put in 10 years with only 1 left. Why throw away ten years by not completing the goal. It is like the Christian who lets go of their faith when they are 70 years old. For 50 years they have persevered in their faith only to throw it all away in the last few years. There is a saying, "It is always darkest before the dawn". It's also the coldest moment of the day. The greatest resistance comes before the greatest victories. Sometimes, in those moments, we need to remember what it is like when it is day time, to remember the warmth of the sun. Sometimes we need to remember our spiritual youthfulness, the excitement, the certainty of God. Then we need to look forward and imagine that moment of sunshine, the new warmth. We need to realize our spiritual rewards, our eternal life, the presence of God, the crown of life:
For in just a very little while,
"He who is coming will come and will not delay.
But my righteous one will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him." (Hebrews 10:37-38)
We need to remember that we have been called, not to try, but to succeed, to have great victory. We have been called to obedience and perseverance. Giving up is never an option for us, not because we are determined but because it is what the Father expects of us. Jesus told us that if we love him we will do what he has commanded. We understood this in our early days; now we have to reflect on the early days to taste of that experience again. Often we have to do this because we have neglected our relationship with Jesus, we have more to lose now, we have a foot in both worlds. This does not please Jesus who told us to be either hot or cold but don't be room temperature. Those who are will be spit out. But we are made of sterner stuff:
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (Hebrews 10:39)
It would be a shame to go through all the trials, hardships and persecutions, to then throw it away at the end. We have too much invested to lose it all. If need be you must go back and recapture what you once had with Jesus. Get back in the Word, start talking everything over with him, put some effort in daily worship, hang out with other believers, get involved in doing something that expresses your faith in Jesus. Remember, we don't come from a root that gives up, but instead we were born to a Dad who doesn't know the meaning of quit.