"You see, it is so hard for these creatures to persevere. The routine of adversity, the gradual decay of youthful loves and youthful hopes, the quiet despair (hardly felt as pain) of ever overcoming the chronic temptations with which we have again and again defeated them, the drabness which we create in their lives, and the inarticulate resentment with which we teach them to respond to it - all this provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul by attrition.
If, on the other hand, the middle years prove prosperous, our position is even stronger. Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is 'finding his place in it,' when really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home on Earth, which is just what we want."
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
I try to make a habit of not starting posts with long quotes, and it is rare that I start with any quotes at all. However, I felt that for this topic, this quote was particularly appropriate. I thought it fit so well because it is true. Read it again if you don't quite believe it. Through and through these may be the most frightening lines I have ever read in a book.
Why are they so terrifying? Because even at age 31, I see them coming true. Not all the time, mind you, but in those moments of weakness or where I'm having a bad day, I see it. What is even more frightening is that I see it in the church today. I see it in the older people who believe that since they have retired from the working world they can retire from God's work as well. I see it in the teenagers who on one hand are so beaten down by the world that their hearts are barely stirred by the Gospel and on the other hand are so consumed with work and becoming well-off that God takes a back seat to anything that can help them "succeed" in the "real world."
Don't believe that you are immune from it. That is a mistake we cannot allow ourselves to make. When you believe that something cannot happen to you is when you are in the greatest danger of it happening. I have seen it happen to elders, men, women, teens, even church bodies. They either become so disillusioned or so comfortable in the world that they cease to be effective in the world around them. Satan doesn't care which one destroys us.
Satan just cares that we are destroyed.
In Matthew 24:13 Jesus says, "But the one who remains faithful to the end will be saved." It comes in the middle of Jesus speaking about terrible things will happen soon after His ascension, but the message is timeless. We must be faithful until death.There is no other way to Him.
Satan knows this. In fact, he is counting on it. If he can wear down our faith so that we are no longer faithful, he wins. He may use riches, comfort, or pain. Indeed, he may use a combination of all three over a lifetime. Anything to make it so we are no longer effective in the service of the One True King.
We may retire from our earthly work, but we can never retire from what God would have us do. We cannot allow ourselves to get too comfortable, thinking that the world is our home. It is not. We also cannot choose to step away and let others do what we should be doing. It is not acceptable before God.
We must choose, every day, who we will serve. Will it be ourselves, will it be our comforts, will it be our pain, or will it be the One True God who loves us and wants us to be His?
As Joshua said, choose this day whom you will serve.
And choose it every day.