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A WORD FOR TODAY, September 22, 2023
“Therefore we don’t faint, but though our outward person is decaying, yet our inward person is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is for the moment, works for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory, while we don’t look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, WEB
Autumn begins at 1:50 a.m. Central time Saturday morning when the sun crosses the celestial equator. Most of the time there is no noticeable difference between the last day of summer and the first day of fall; there certainly won’t be this year as we continue with record heat and drought. A few years ago during a similar weather year, a cold front moved through in a coincidentally timely manner over the state of Texas. The high temperature on that autumnal equinox came at midnight but by early morning the temperature began to drop dramatically. By 4:18 p.m. when the sun crossed the equator, the temperature was chilly and storm clouds dropped desperately needed rain. That year we went to bed in the summertime and woke up to autumn weather. It was lovely to have cool, rainy weather after a harsh and uncomfortable summer with record heat and a lack of rain. It was a pleasant surprise, but it was an unusual experience; it would be nice if it happened again tonight but isn’t in the forecast.
Life rarely happens instantaneously. Time passes slowly and the weather generally changes gradually as time passes.
There are a few miraculous stories of people coming to faith. Paul’s story is one of those. He was a devout Jew, working to stop the progress of the Church. He was persecuting the early Christians, perhaps even calling for their death. One day, on the way to another town to destroy another church, Paul had an encounter with the Living Christ. It is an amazing story; Paul was changed dramatically by that meeting and he became one of the most successful evangelists of all time. He began church after church in city after city and his letters have helped define the church. Thousands came to know Jesus as they listened to his sermons and teaching. It was a sudden change. There was a turning point in his life; we know the moment he was transformed.
Can we say the same thing about you? There have been times when I have had sudden changes in my faith and life in Christ, but I never had that miraculous turning point moment. I grew up in the church, learned about Jesus at Sunday school and regular worship from a young age. Like the changing of the seasons, I can’t say that one day I was not a believer and the next day I was. There are those who have a sudden and miraculous transformation from hopelessness into hope, faithlessness into faith, unbelief into belief. But most of us simply experience subtle changes from day to day, month to month, year to year. From the first time we heard the Word of God until today, we have been slowly growing in grace and faith toward the day when we will be fully changed into His likeness.
Paul had a miraculous moment, but then he grew in faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ, transformed daily by God’s grace. His life was not always pleasant. He suffered for his faith, and in that suffering, he was changed. Life following Christ is not always sunshine and roses. Sometimes it is dreary and wet and cold. Sometimes we face doubts and anger and pain. We don’t understand why we would have to face suffering. The world wants us to doubt our faith, to reject God’s grace, to turn around and walk another path.
Paul reminds us not to lose heart. Our faith is not something we can create or destroy; it is a gift from God. We live in that faith day by day, as we are slowly transformed into what God has promised we will be. Cold, rainy weather is temporary, and even if the cool damp weather of fall were to begin today, spring will come again. We might have moments when God seems distant, perhaps even missing from our life, but it is in those moments when we learn to look forward to that which isn’t seen, to rely on the One who is always near even when we can’t see Him.
A WORD FOR TODAY is posted five days a week – Monday through Friday. The devotional on Wednesday takes a look at the scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary for the upcoming Sunday. A WORD FOR TODAY is posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Word-for-Today-Devotional/339428839418276. Like the page to receive the devotion through Facebook. For information and to access our archives, visit http://www.awordfortoday.org