Against the grain – September 1, 2019
For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
The universal question, “Who am I?” is quickly followed by the one that asks, “What am I doing here?”
The flimsy answers we may come up with are swept away with the declaration of the Lord,
“I gave you life so that you could be my servant.”
That tends to take the wind out of our self-inflated sails.
We are not as powerful as we might think, nor as important as we might hope. We may protest that we have rights. We might boast of our freedoms. But that does not change the reality pointed to with the words: “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall…” (1 Peter 1:24).
We are nothing without our Creator. Our lives mean nothing without our Redeemer. Our lives will accomplish nothing without our Sanctifier—the one who works the good within us.
Yet, this seems to go against the grain of our lives.
The picture comes from woodworking. The grain is the natural flow of the wood fibers. Someone who rubs his hand against the grain on a piece of lumber will get splinters. Going against our natural inclination to rule instead of to serve might be just as unpleasant.
That’s why God needs to reprogram the flow of our thoughts. We have been fed a fake picture of the way our life should go. With satanic reformatting, he has convinced us that separation from God makes for a smooth and pleasant life. “Think of all the fun you can have, all the money you can make, and all the freedom you can enjoy if you follow the natural path—the path you were born onto.”
It’s true! We were born into this world walking on a path away from God—a direction that leads only to misery. Apart from God there is only slavery—slavery to sin, death, and the devil.
But Christians have been reborn. Now we can see the undoctored picture of life. We see we came to life according to a divine power for a divine purpose. We live to serve the Holy One.
There is no higher status, no greater honor, and no more wonderful purpose than to be in service to the Lord of lords and King of kings.
Those who are in service to their country might understand this better than others.
There is no shame in taking orders. It is something good to stand up for what is good. It is a privilege to serve.
The path of our life has been laid out by the Son of God who came, “not to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). He became the suffering Servant (Isaiah 53:11) so that we might become heirs of glory.
We live, not just for ourselves. We live for him.
We die, not alone. We belong to him.
He points out the path of life. He leads us on it.
The flow of our life heads in the direction of heaven.
We will not go against the grain.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have made it clear that it is better to serve than to be served. You have enlisted us in your kingdom. You have set the direction of our lives toward joy and glory. Keep us from going against that heavenly grain. Amen.
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
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