It started off so easy. Father and young son were hiking down a flat, sandy nature trail. The further the two marched, the more rugged the trail became. Boulders littered the path, forcing both hikers to squeeze around them. Thigh-deep creeks sliced the trail in two, making them wade through churning currents. Trees had fallen on the path, leaving them no choice but to step up and over the slimy, mossy bark. Finally, after hours of climbing, shuffling, reaching, grabbing, and leaping, they saw the end of the trail. It meant no more obstacles, no more exhausting effort, no more struggles. All that separated them from reaching the goal was a deep chasm.
Both father and son scoured the area for a bridge, but found nothing. They searched for the start of this chasm with the hope of walking around it, but the chasm stretched on both ways for miles. The only way over this challenge was over an oak tree that had fallen across this great divide.
Father went first. He stared at the end of the trail, never once taking his eyes off of his goal. He carefully placed one foot on the log, and then heaved his entire weight onto the tree. One foot crept slowly ahead of the other foot. Little by little he toed forward, safely reaching the other side.
Turning around, he called out for his son to cross. The boy was nervous. As he put one foot on the log, his eyes glanced at the river raging some 100 feet below him. His eyes darted from side to side in the hopes of discovering another way across, but there was nothing. The only way to reach his goal was to cross this fallen tree.
How do you do it? It’s frightening to stand with so much danger surrounding you: sudden drop-offs, raging rivers, the fear of heights. Paralyzed by fear, how can he march on?
How can you march on? You may not be facing sudden drop-offs, but you live in a world filled with sudden events of violence. You may not confront a raging river, but you experience those who rage against your God and everything he teaches. Thinking about the future can leave you paralyzed in fear. So many dangers surround you— dangers found in society, health, life. How do you march on?
Losing focus in the face of trouble can lead to devastating results. Knowing where to look means that you get to March On, Super-Conqueror! God is for you. No one can stand against you.
[W]e know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). God works for your good because he has called you to faith. The Word of God has hit your ears. God, with his words, reveals that little Bethlehem baby as your Savior. He lifts your eyes to the cross where you see his Son pay to save your life. Then he speaks a promise: whoever believes that only Jesus makes you right in the sight of God will enter eternal life (John 3:16).
You have heard those words. You have heard them in your home devotions; you have heard them in Sunday worship. You heard them spoken as water was poured over your head and God made you his disciple (Matthew 28:19). God has called you to faith. He has called you to be his child. God is pleased to be your God who works all things with you and your eternal wellbeing in mind.
So, then What shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? What’s the answer? Who can be against you if God is for you? And do remember who this God is. This is the God who brought the universe into existence by the powerful word of his mouth (Genesis 1:1-2:4). When this God speaks, the earth has no choice but to listen to what God will do (Psalm 46:6). This is the One enthroned in heaven who scoffs at those who shake their tiny fists in defiance against his eternal teachings (Psalm 2:4-6). This is the God who threw Satan out of heaven and locked him in the prison of hell (2 Peter 2:4). This is the God who is for you.
If all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to God Almighty, if every nation, every government, every king cannot possibly overrule his actions, if Satan is forever damned, then who can be against you? Who can rip you away from God’s loving embrace? Who can strip away the fact that God still hears your prayers, still blesses you, and that he will bring you safely to your heavenly home? Who can interfere and stop God from keeping his promises to you? Who can change the reality that God is for you? No one.
You know that. That’s why those verses are cherished by so many. And yet, those verses can be so easily forgotten when hardships circle you.
Senseless violence forever changes lives. Walking into a church or to grocery or a school can feel like God no longer sends his protecting angels, that God suddenly forgets where you are. Division seems to describe politics anymore. The hurt and the anger can leave you forgetting to pray and ask God to bless those leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2). An increasing number of people are staying out of worship; masses are turning their backs on God. You worry how much longer your congregation will exist in this location to share God’s saving Word. You wonder how many believers will be left while you’re still alive. These complex, massive problems circle you, leaving you feeling abandoned, cut off, and hopeless. And if you feel that God has left you, then you begin distancing your heart from God. If you stop trusting God, you will start trusting your own guidance and decisions—decisions that will only lead you into the pits of eternal despair.
My friends, your God has and will never leave you. That’s a promise. That’s a promise you see kept by focusing on the cross. Yes, whenever you feel crushed, overwhelmed, abandoned, look at the cross. He[…] did not spare his own Son… God did not keep Jesus locked up in heaven and away from the world’s troubles. Instead, your Jesus entered a world filled with Roman violence and divisive religious leaders. He calls twelve fishermen to be his disciples— fishermen who are scared that they could die for following him. Yet, your Jesus trusted his Father’s authority over all things— even when Roman soldiers arrest him. He never worries— even when those religious leaders spew out lies in the hopes of harming his future. Look at the cross, and see God give up his beloved Son for those scared fishermen. Look at the cross, and see God give him up for us all. Jesus dies your (and my) death—the death you (and I) deserve for all the needless fear and despair. For all those times you (and I) used our words and actions to bark out: “God, where are you?” Jesus is abandoned, cut off, left dead. All for you—to pay the price demanded for our sin so that eternal death in hell will never separate you from God.
God even gives you five reasons that he must be for you. God must watch over you. God must hear your prayers. It’s because Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Jesus continually tells his Father: “Watch over them because I have done what you have required. I have lived a perfect life with perfect trust in order to save them from eternal fear.” God must watch over you, not because you or I demand this. Not because you and I are here in church, just like he commands. Not because you live a good life. God must watch over you because Jesus says: “I died for them. Look at them. They are innocent, blameless; they are clothed with my life.”
If you ever fear that God has left you, focus on the cross. See Jesus win for you the title: “Child of God.” Just like a parent never forgets their child, God never forgets about you. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Do you see your identity now? Did you look in the mirror morning and smile? You are a super-conqueror! You do not merely conquer life’s hardships, you overwhelm them. Why? Because you hold Jesus’ victory over sin, death, and the devil. Society may hate God. More may be against God than for him, but no number, no hatred will keep you out of heaven. Health may give you every reason to despair God’s care. Fear for the future may tug on you to leave God. Yet, nothing in the present or the future will rip you from the path that leads to eternal life. I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What worries are on your mind? What keeps you tossing and turning all night? Are you worried that your congregation may not remain here as long as you thought? Are you torn because your child is leaving the faith you have taught them to know, a faith you yourself modeled? Do you ache watching a broken world still looking for comfort in human achievement? Does it feel like it’s up to you to solve every trouble in life?
Focus on the cross. Let your ears listen to his words of promise. Let your mind be at ease because all-powerful God is with you. Which means, no one can stand against you.
That boy put one foot on the log. His eyes glanced at the river raging some 100 feet below him. His eyes darted from side to side in the hopes of discovering another way across, but there was nothing. The only way to reach his goal was to cross this fallen tree.
So, that young boy fixed his attention on his father. His ears listened to his father’s guidance. His eyes locked onto his father’s outstretched arms. His mind found comfort in his father’s calm voice. Step after step he moved forward, pressing further down the tree, lifting foot after foot until that foot touched solid ground.
Father crossed the challenge first. Your Jesus crossed the challenges of this life first. He died, but reversed death. He lived, but then rose into heaven. He rose, but now sits in power in authority. He has not abandoned you. He remains to guide your feet with his Word and calm your fears with his promises. Set your eyes and your attention on him.
March On, Super-Conqueror! March on, despite the struggles which follow you for God remains to strengthen and help. March on, remaining focused on sharing the life-saving Word of God. March on, knowing that no one will rip away your heavenly inheritance. March On, Super-Conqueror! God is for you. No one can stand against you.
Read older posts