I often stumble into an unrealistic mindset that brings about a desire and hope to be able to come up with an answer for everything, a way to fix everything, a way to win the battle with zero casualties and peace on both sides. Making peace, not just keeping it.
I forget that while home is still home, the place that’s most familiar to me and most foundational when compared to the other places I often visit, it’s a spiritual war zone, maybe even more chaotic and difficult than college. I love coming home, but just because I’m home doesn’t mean Satan has suddenly taken a break, or my flesh is any less susceptible to temptation, or I’m in any less need of God’s grace, love, and truth.
On Sunday, while I was still at the Brock’s, Uncle Doug talked about preparing our minds for action, getting ready to fight a battle that may or may not come, though it would be more likely to come than to not come. 1 Peter 1:3-7 says
“According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Jump down, after Peter describes our faith, our growth, as something into which angels look, or literally stoop down to observe. First of all, before looking at verse 13, checking into verses 3-7 combined with verse 12. Christians have already been set up to have hope in what might seem like a hopeless situation. Growing and learning by fire isn’t always the most pleasant experience, but, according to this passage, it’s the way Christ has called and ordained us to live in Him. And the fact that the angels of heaven look on as we grow in Him is kind of a big deal, and I think that’s really cool :). It just goes to show that what I might think is difficult and impossible and pointless might be sought after by someone else. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but in this case everything is treasure, perfected and refined.
Then in verse 13, I see the word “therefore.” I learned a while ago that whenever I see this word, especially in the Bible, it’s basically saying “so, I’ve told you all of this stuff, now this is what it means,” much like a charge or a challenge at the end of a long speech. So, God via Peter has told me all of these things about the process of my faith being refined and of the battles I’ll be facing and why I’ll be facing them and now, He stops to say “therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
My first reaction to this was: “Wait. What? Lord, I don’t think You understand. I can’t wait for Christ to come back: I need help right now.”
But looking further and snapping out of the impatient mindset of wanting my needs to be met immediately, I realized that just because this passage says “at the revelation of Jesus Christ” doesn’t mean grace and mercy and hope don’t exist right now. The fullness of grace, or grace completed and ready, will come when Christ comes for the second time. It’s kind of like, I think, in Galatians 4 when Paul says “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (v. 4-5). So, like “fullness of time,” the grace that I’m setting my hope on here in 1 Peter is a “fullness of grace” when the right time, the appointed time for Christ’s return is brought about. At least that’s what I think.
So, what’s the point?
Well, the point is the beginning of verse 13. Peter says “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope…” In other words, before setting your hope, readying yourselves for the coming of Christ, preparing to take on the life of the disciple of Christ, you need to prepare your mind for action and exercise discipline in your heart, in the places where the battle is most fierce. I still can’t get over the epic-ness of the phrase “preparing your minds for action.” Because, when I think of action, I think of a physical movement or decision, having nothing to do with the mind. But I suppose it’s kind of like why I choose to talk to God and read His word first thing in the morning, before I do anything else, because it’s putting my mind in the right place, preparing myself to be more inclined towards obedience to Christ, should a decision between disobedience and obedience come my way. Preparing my mind for action sets me up to follow through with physical action more readily and more willingly than if my mind were set on being a spiritual couch potato.
The fact that God so thoroughly desires for us to be rooted in Him, the fact that He provides us with instruction, motivated by His love, sheer character, and power, on how to have Him as a foundation from which we can really, effectively operate and be fulfilled and secure while we do so; this is amazing! I mean, it’s what the world is searching for. They’re looking for something that doesn’t change, yearning for something absolute and unmoving. Well, here it is, and to think I, as God’s adopted daughter, as His reconciled prodigal, have access to it…yeah.
So how does this tie into what I was talking about before? Well, with my family, things have never been easy, and I have no problem telling all of you this because where we are now, though it’s still difficult, is still a testimony of God’s grace and love and mercy. Satan and the world and our own flesh have been trying to tear us apart for a very long time, ever since I could remember. Does this sound dramatic, maybe even the melo- brand? Yes, of course. Does this mean there isn’t a war going on? Nope. There is most definitely a war going on, and my family and I are part of just one battle. But God is good, and He saves me and my family on a regular basis from things we can’t even see. He’s skilled and tender in the way of healing us and tying us back together and fixing relationships and mending broken hearts. He’s perfect in the way He moves us to forgive one another and love one another, though we sometimes don’t know how.
The lesson learned is that before I come home, before I go anywhere, I need to prepare my mind for action, for battle. I need to let God’s word and His determination and His decisiveness and resolution to soak my thoughts and beat through my heart so that, when the battle comes, I can fight and win and learn further how to love. The battle might be remaining quiet when one of my parents say something unkind. It might be when I’m unpleasant and have to humble myself and apologize to my siblings. It might be when Gracie and Jimmy (because they’re still in the “cool teenager” phase) are being cruel to one another and I have to decide between getting frustrated or stepping forward in kindness.
Regardless, this is evidence of God’s provision: He has not thrown me into a difficult situation, onto the middle of a battlefield, without a weapon to wield and a definite hope of victory. He’s set me up, since the very beginning of time, to win, though not because of my skill with a Sword, or my ability to maneuver amongst the masses, or my knowledge of battle tactics, but because of how great He is, because of His character, because of His sovereignty and His power and His love and His skill and His awesomeness.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” —Proverbs 16:9, ESV