Gathered Gold

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Boots or no boots!

Sometimes I can really see that life is a spiritual battle. I get clarity of thought and the battlefield is spread before me. I see Satan's wiles, I see what the world wants, and I sense the frailty and corruption of my flesh. Most of the time, though, I am blind to these things, and so wrapped up in my activities of daily living. I believe that this is part of God's answer to my prayer for sanctification. He loads me up with matters to take care of, and then tests me when I am not ready for it.

I don't think I am being unfair to God in what I am saying. I don't think I am being irreverent. I think it makes sense to test vital capacities under pressure. Soldiers are trained not to be distracted by loud noises. I once read of a police force in America that was training their officers on the pistol range by shooting wax bullets at them. They were training them to respond to the sound of a gunshot and the feeling of being hit, by drawing their weapons and firing.

I think I am right in saying that there is no more important endeavour in the field of human experience than that of striving for holiness. If it is important for a soldier or a policeman or a pilot or a boxer to react correctly under pressure, it is far more important for us.

A difficulty comes for me, though, when my health is affected. A good leader wants his men to be healthy. He wants them to improve their fitness. While he pushes them hard with heavy packs on their backs, he wouldn't knowingly have them injure themselves. That would be counter-productive. A few blisters are character building, but a broken leg means a non-combatant on crutches.

I guess this is the difference between temporal and eternal concerns. Good health is a key weapon in the temporal soldier's armoury. What is good for him physically is good for his temporal cause. Our cause is eternal, though. In a way this body is like the soldier's boots. They will wear out, and it is right that they should. That is their purpose. (Cest est metier.) Their purpose is to wear out in the making and protecting of a soldier.

So, it seems that the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave his own body up to the hands of cruel men to satisfy his father's purpose, calls us to take a similar attitude to our own. He may give us up to be burned - a temporal disaster, but in the light of eternity, a temporary one. He is winnowing us, not for our temporal good, but our eternal. This life is as the blink of an eye. The seed which goes into the ground must die, but then it springs up to eternal life. A life that is so long, and so full and so rich in the knowledge of the Lord that it makes all else as dross.

Perhaps when we get there we will look back on this life and this body like a worn out pair of boots that, by God's grace, served us well in the only cause that ever really mattered.

(Most grateful to the wayfaring man who passed this piece on to me - Iain)