Last week I was puttering in our backyard marveling how much grass can suffer while under a blanket of snow caused by the presence of two dogs. To my surprise I found the single blooming tulip along the hedges on one side of our yard.
My wife told me her mother planted the tulips about 35 years ago. We moved into this house in 1988 and over the years the tulips disappeared one by one until for the passed number of years I do not remember seeing any bloom–until this year. This one tulip is a survivor. Somehow, despite the dogs and the snow and the mowing and even through a pandemic (?) it lived. And it was able to perform its God-given task: to bring some beauty to our world.
Now I know the passages about victory through Christ. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 1 Corinthians 15:57. A victory is something to celebrate. Especially in our world, victories are the subject of highlight clips with the victors exploding with cheers and dancing and overwhelming joy.
Being honest, the picture of the struggles that one flower went through to survive made me think of my life. What comes to mind is not the thrill of victory victory, but another passage from Acts 14:22 We must go through many troubles on our way to the kingdom of God.
I can easily fall into perceiving my life as one struggle after another. While I may be able to see a resolution in the near future for one issue, I also find myself looking beyond the victory and wonder what will come next. There is no joy in that sort of life.
Am I a survivor or a victor? When I look to the world for an answer, I can easily choose survivor. Especially coming out of the present struggle with the pandemic. I read story after story about the trials the citizens of the world needed to undergo as a result of COVID19. While many of these were merely inconveniences, the masks, social distancing, and loss of social events, there were also serious medical consequences with which to grapple. There were people laid off, schools closed and some businesses that needed to close their doors.
Now many of the stories are about how we survived the pandemic. But the survival mentality stretches far beyond the pandemic. In no particular order one can survive the last president, living in a dysfunctional family, high prices, inflation, incompetent teachers, a bad marriage, an impossible boss, or raising 5 kids. At times I feel if I don’t see myself as a survivor I must be in denial.
My life did include the pandemic and some of the items mentioned above. It also included my bad and sometimes sinful choices and choices of those around me. For me to be a survivor would mean I gutted it out until the events passed. However, it was not that way. I have tested my own strength and resourcefulness in difficult situations and I failed–usually miserably.
Being a survivor really has only one focus–my life in this world. This sinful world does not lend itself to my feeling victorious. Sure, I have accomplishments and blessings here on earth. But once my life ends, what do they really matter.
True victory only comes Because everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith. 1 John 5:4. That faith believes Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life and then died to pay for all of my sins. It’s a faith that reassures me every minute that despite my sins, Jesus’ perfect sacrifice covers all the ways I fall short of the perfection that God demands. Because of faith, I know that Jesus is with me every moment as a source of strength to make my way through this life. And it’s a faith that knows my Savior does all this because he loves me–not because of who I am but because of who he is.
So, yes, at times I look at my past and see myself as a survivor. How much better it is if I see how Jesus was there using my circumstances and my choices to bring me blessings–even when I don’t recognize them right away.
Am I a victor? In reality, Jesus has applied his victory to me. In front of God, I am sinless because Jesus was. What Jesus did guarantees me eternal life in heaven. Now there is a victory that I can celebrate, and cheer about and most important, share with others.
Thanks for stopping by. Hope you can come again. I will wait you.
Yes there are times when I am a survivor. The audience here is in a prison. The prison I was in was sin. From that i have victory. Do you?