Christian walking the narrow path

I Do Not Have The Strength to Be A Christian

“Between the dangers of self-denial and self-indulgence there is a path of pleasant pain. It is not the pathological pleasure of a masochist, but the passion of a lover’s quest: “I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8)— A Hunger for God.

denial vs indulgence road

There is a question I ask myself every night in bed before I slip into to the land of the dreamers. “Has my service been pleasing to God today?”

To say that I have always had a confident and affirming yes to that question would be dishonest because almost always, I am usually, for the most part in a state of contrition for something if not for another.

Whenever I reflect on how my day was at the end of each day, I find that maybe I uttered words that weren’t wholesome, failed to speak out against an injustice, failed to stand up for truth, acted in a way that wasn’t praiseworthy… to mention but a few.

Thus, I normally end up feeling like a damp squib almost every evening because of this expectation or standard that I have created in my head which I never seem to attain.

And, for those exceptional times for which I am confident that I achieved something, or did something that was praiseworthy or deserving of accolades or recognition, I promptly recognize a problem.

I know…. right about now you are probably thinking that that does not make any sense because it sounds as though my whole internalization process should be the other way around.

But… the reason behind my inverted reasoning is that, day by day, I am coming to the awareness that whenever I feel the need to be accredited or praised for a certain accomplishment or effort, I recognize as well that the only thing I am trying to do is to rob God the glory due to Him and Him alone.

Anyways, we will get to that while we continue on this post.

Just recently, while I was wondering again for the umpteenth time why on certain times I feel dispirited when it comes to serving God, I thought out loudly: because I do not have the strength to be a Christian.

Christian walking the narrow path
Image: Pilgrim’s Progress Animation

Within me I find that I have desires which war against my will and purpose to walk in the the ways of God; things, that at times hinder me from experiencing God deeeeeeply and profoundly— a fervent and vibrant desire for God solo! (Regardless of whatever, whoever, whenever, wherever.)

And the truth is, I had been in that phase for some time: distracted by life’s pleasures, that is, before I purposed to do away with a considerable amount of screentime and certain cell phone applications at the beginning of the year.

I have begun reading another book, A Hunger For God by John Piper. And boy! I have not even begun the chapters yet, but that preface and introduction just made me want to tell God that– I quit on this christian business. For real!

Giving up gif

But instead, what came from my heart was an outcry to Him saying, “I do not have the strength to be a Christian.”

Not in an arrogant or angry way, but from a place of self-insufficiency.

Reading the book, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to a perspective that I had never seen before arising from the below parable…

But before we get to reading it… This parable often reminds me of my sister when we were younger. In pre-school, she was taught the song: I Cannot Come (The Wedding Banquet Song) and she would sing it in the house constantly to a point of annoyance… Now, whenever I hear this parable read, or the story told, I remember that song and smile.

Luke 14

15 Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”
16 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many,
17 and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’
18 But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’
19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’
20 Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’
21 So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’
22 And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’
23 Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
24 For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’

This story looks understandably basic on the surface. A man holds a feast for his friends and sends servants to invite them to the feast, but they all return with excuses of why they are unable to attend. The man, in anger, decides to let those who were not invited in the first place into the feast.

Easy peasy right? Well! Not so! And kindly never take that kind of approach while reading God’s word (take it from somebody who has been there, done that, and had it all blow up in my face), because the Holy Spirit deals differently with each person. He is able to speak diversely on God’s word with respect each person’s individual walk with God.

Now, I would like to request us all (including myself) to meditate on the below statements slooooowly, for a long while. Quoting from the book, A Hunger For God,

“The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world.
It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night.
For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife. (Luke 14:18–20).
The greatest adversary of love to God is not His enemies but His gifts.
And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God Himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.
Jesus said some people hear the word of God, and a desire for God is awakened in their hearts. But then, “as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life.” (Luke 8:14).
In another place He said, “The desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). “The pleasures of life” and “the desires for other things”—these are not evil in themselves. These are not vices. These are gifts of God. They are your basic meat and potatoes and coffee and gardening and reading and decorating and traveling and investing and TV-watching and Internet-surfing and shopping and exercising and collecting and talking. And all of them can become deadly substitutes for God.”

This statement, just made me want to cry. How true it is. How cheaply, personally, I have substituted time with God for surfing the internet for worthless things, or even those simple pleasures I traded when I was supposed to be spending time serving my Lord.

Now, in no way, do I believe the writer means to say that we are not supposed to enjoy life’s pleasures, however, whenever we begin to place greater importance to them than God, then, do we begin moving away from that precious narrow road leading to life into the broad road of destruction.

Narrow Path, Patience Path

Again, to my worrying question. How then, with such circumstances, can I be a Christian? How can I manage to live a Christian life that is pleasing before God on my own, and in my own strength? The answer is simple: I simply cannot because it is impossible! And this, not just for me, but for all other children of God. We cannot. It is impossible.

On our own, we are unable to walk this narrow but beautiful and life-filled road. Because this road requires not partial, but a complete surrender to Christ. That no longer are we ‘self- anything’ (self confident, self-reliant, selfish, self-seeking), but totally and completely surrendered to the will of the Father in Christ Jesus. Which basically means: death to self.

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Luke 14

26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.
33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

Which, as we have already established, we are unable to do in our own strength.

Thus, my answer, lies only in faith and grace of which both: are a gift and power of God. Paul wrote,

1 Corinthians 15

9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast

Faith and receiving God’s free gift of grace is the only way we can become Christians whose lives are pleasing to God. Because no longer is it by ourselves do we walk the Christian journey, but by God’s power originating from Himself through the Holy Spirit to strengthen us, fill us, guide us, encourage us and ultimately lead us into the safe hands of the Father through Christ Jesus at the end of the age.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Grace: not because we did/do anything to deserve it, or accomplish things by  our own efforts, strength, knowledge, or wisdom– but because He loves us. Freely.

That is why as I had earlier stated, it is prideful, arrogant, and even presumptuous to take in glory or praise that is meant only for God. And by this I do not mean that superficial praise that is ordinarily thrown around in some conversations out of buoyancy.

But a conscious, deliberate and heartfelt praise to God; for all the blessings in our lives. For the food eaten during the day, the breath of life, hearing the voice of a friend or a loved one, the jobs we have, the trials we face (still understanding God’s control over all circumstances)…etc.

And so you see, I really do not have the strength to be a Christian on my own, and in my own strength. And so is any other Christian out there. We are all unable to be Christians in our own strength, and on our own. Because following Jesus is meant to cost us everything. It costs us everything we have, we own, we hold dear, and even identify ourselves with.

And living in this world, especially in these times today, it is becoming difficult day by day to be completely submitted to the heart of God because of the desires that arise within us as a result of the pleasures and worldly enticements that exist on this earth.

But I thank God, that I do not have to go the journey all on my own, or to walk the narrow path on my own— because I have a gracious Lord, who has vowed never to leave, nor forsake me. No matter what! Through thick and thin, Jesus vowed to always be by my side. Forevermore.

Isaiah 46:4 Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.


May 2, 2022 at 12:39 am

Such an encouraging message Shiko! I’ve recently been turning to the Lord more so and giving up the things that so easily entangle and desiring a closer walk and greater service unto GOD our FATHER… I need to remember to give HIM all the glory, honor, and praise for what HE does in and through me by HIS Spirit… I’m in total dependence on GOD the FATHER’s grace, mercy, and compassion molding me as the clay in the Potter’s hand. I’m in total dependence on JESUS shepherding me as in Psalm 23 and holding me by the hand to walk with Him to do the FATHER’s will. I’m in total dependence on the Holy Spirit to encourage, motivate, comfort, sustain, and lead and guide me into bearing more fruit for the FATHER. It is not easy, but I’m surrendering more of myself to live for GOD’s purposes and not my own desires…

May 5, 2022 at 8:10 am

I am right there with you my friend.
And thank you too for the transparency and honesty. Only God can use our weaknesses for His glory. I used to state this a lot but never truly understood its truth until I was placed in a position where I was utterly weak, wondering why God would choose me seeing my weaknesses and more so, how God could accomplish His purpose in these situations of weakness.

Thanks for also encouraging me always! 🙂

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