John Harju

While I couldn’t make it to Geek’d Con this year, I went on a trip on the same weekend to visit a very close friend of mine (my partner on Casual Gamer Society, Dave) and celebrate his brother’s birthday. I enjoy these solo trips that I take every so often as they are times of refreshing and great reminders that there are other places than where I live, which is a helpful tip for those who struggle with anxiety triggered by feelings of isolation. They are pilgrimages on which God’s still small voice can speak to my soul in the still small hours, and He often does.

As it would happen, he wanted to talk to me about hurdles this weekend. Not the temporary barricades over which people in shorty shorts leap as they run 110 meters, but the obstacles we encounter that seem so difficult to surmount. Stop! Stop right now. As you were reading this, you thought of something you are struggling with. I want you to hang onto that thought while you read this and continue to consider it as we go through this journey together.

Often, as Christians, we tend to see spiritual hurdles as being incredibly difficult. While I was visiting a church in Indiana this weekend, while the pastor was preaching, he mentioned the change in American culture in the past decade. He talked about how Christians must strive to overcome the culture and the difficult task ahead of us in this undertaking. I am not here to criticize the church or the preacher of this church, but this is the best example of the common perspective of many modern American Christians in the face of complicated situations (I cannot speak for those abroad). Consider the following: The reason the hurdles are so tricky is because you are attempting to either clear them or remove them. Marinate on that for a moment. YOU are doing it.

I don’t say this to shame anyone. In fact, on a certain level, I admire your “can do” attitude; however, a repeating characteristic of God shown throughout the Bible is that he goes before His people to remove what opposes them. In terms of those who hate you, they are not enemies nor barriers but people we have been called to love. They are also God’s beloved handiwork, for whom Jesus also died. So stop looking at that one guy (you know who I am talking about) as a spiritual burden or opposition. Pray that God softens their hearts, makes them sensitive to the Spirit, and brings the Gospel to them. The Great Commission states to go into ALL the world and preach the Gospel. There is no “except Gary in HR because that guy is a real jerk.”  Go especially to Gary or whoever it is in your life.

So, with that clarification out of the way, what the crap am I talking about? Situational and spiritual matters. How can Christians have peace in the face of adversity or what seems like tremendous hurdles? Simply put, it is not our place to take care of them. You will often hear people say nothing is too difficult for God. Jesus Himself said it in Matthew 19:23-26:

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”  But Jesus looked at them and said  “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:23-26 (English Standard Version | ESV)

Still, many Christians approach these things as if they are too complex for God or as if God is unaware and attempts to take on the hurdles themselves, and more often than not, end up falling on their face because of it. God never called us to be crusaders or vigilantes for His name. He doesn’t call us to attack individuals or reclaim political leadership. Heck, they tried to make Jesus a king, and He was all, “nah bro, I’m good…”

See, if Jesus is supposed to be our model of living, then we are to reach those we can reach, pray for those we can’t, and let God take care of everything else. We aren’t called to worry. We aren’t called to fight. In terms of spiritual warfare, we aren’t even really capable of doing much other than being a conduit through which God can work.

In the end, we have already won because of what Christ has done on the cross. I will direct you to Romans 8:31-39:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39

If the Bible is true, then Death is just an inconvenience, as are the other unpleasantness of life. So let’s go back to that thing I told you to hang on to now. When you say that it is too difficult or hard, are you saying that it is too hard for God to take care of, or is it just too inconvenient for you to live with because the time for God to take it has not yet come? In the end, we often complain about how inconvenient the hurdles are, but without resistance, we do not grow or become stronger. So, to the best of my discernment, this is what it means when Paul said, “To live is Christ, and die is gain.” We have already overcome. We have already won. We’re just waiting for the rest of the game to play out. Be Blessed.