“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.
In life when we make a big decision we usually expect two things. We expect an instantaneous feeling of peace, and we expect our decision to have a huge impact. The momentary feeling hits us that we have finally done something, and we expect the bells and whistles to go off.
The decision to become a Christian is no different. In fact, once you commit to Christ, you make a huge decision, and you expect the impact to be equally huge. Churches and Christian leaders everywhere provide non-believers with the information on how to become a Christian, and the tone is usually the same. The person prays for Christ to come into their heart, forgive them for their sins, and take over their life.
However, more often than not, the person who has just committed themselves to Christ is not told what takes place after that prayer is over and they open their eyes. This moment is the one where the new believer expects to see an entirely new world, and often expects that everything will run smoothly from that point on.
In reality, an entirely different life awaits you, but you may not feel the instant gratification that you are used to searching for. At that moment, the old you is gone, and a new you takes shape. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Simply put, you are an infant, and not an adult. You do not know how to walk and talk, but you will spend time learning how to. In truth, many Christians struggle their entire lives with this only to take a hard fall and find out that they did not learn how to walk and talk at all.
Many people know the story. God sent His son to die to save humankind. That is seen in the famous scripture, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. What this means for you is that God gave you this option through His love for you. However, never drop your guard on the fact that faith is attached to that, and to receive the gift you have to believe.
However, your faith does not just stop with your belief. Beyond that, faith walks and talks. “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17. Your job is to take His promise and gift and honor it in every step you make. The key is to remember that at the moment you committed to Christ, you committed to give your life to Him and follow Him. When you follow someone you walk in trust placing your steps behind theirs.
To learn how to walk and talk, you have to continue on His path even when you fall. The ones who deviate from that path usually come in two forms. First, there are those who spend a lifetime struggling only to find out they never truly developed because they insisted on walking their own path only to scream out to God for help when their own path reached a dead end. And even for those people, God is waiting for them to walk back over to His path and start to follow. He remains faithful even when we do not. “…if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13.
Second, others will continue to walk their own path knowing that God’s gift offers a promise of complete forgiveness. However, that promise is never an excuse to continue walking your own path. “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” Hebrews 10:26-27. God wants us to repent, and repentance means that we turn away from the sins that take us off of His path and onto our own. Thus, it is an action, not merely an apology.
When you feel that you cannot possibly continue to follow because you do not know how to stay on God’s path, you have to remember that although He holds the map,
He has given you a guide.
** Part II of the “Now What” Series will discuss the Guide God has given you that helps you stay on His path.