Walking along the front of my yard, with the lake to my right and a modestly sized hill on my left, I noticed a rusted and weathered handrail which was attempting to hide itself among the foliage of the hillside. I had not noticed this railing before, and I approached for closer inspection. I took my left hand and placed it upon the worn metal and began to walk up the hill making sure to place my steps carefully to avoid the poison ivy which had found fertile soil to take root. The earth beneath my feet displayed no evidence of a staircase, but after further effort and scrutiny I found a faint glimpse of cement after digging the toe of my tennis shoes down into the matted leaves and soil while kicking aside the debris. The cumulative absence of work and care over the years had rendered the staircase not only invisible and buried beneath the earth, but also left it unemployed from its previous usefulness.
This is what struck me most. The previously useful staircase was now unnoticeable and was even the fertile ground for the repelling plant, poison ivy. The staircase which used to be the direct route from the top of the hill to the lakefront had not only melted into the hillside, but also drove people away because of the vile plants it grew upon its path.
We are told in scripture to be alert and sober-minded (1 Peter 1:15). To always be on guard against the enemy. The enemy wants to make us useless in furthering the kingdom of God. And not only does he want to make us useless, but he wants to keep the unsaved from being in contact with us. He desires that we would become fertile ground for worldly behavior and desires to grow that keep the unsaved away. He wants us to become a part of the world, and to fit in rather than being someone who lives a holy life. And not only that, but just as the staircase was buried under the earth, so Satan wants to put us in a grave under the earth.
· John 10:10a The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
· 1 Peter 5:8b Be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring ion, seeking someone to devour.
But within this battle, we can take be encouraged. For the battle is the Lords! The Lord will not give up on you. He will never leave you or forsake you.
· Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
· 1 John 5:4 “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - - our faith.”
· 2 Peter 1:3-4 “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
The buried staircase was a sobering reminder of the work I must put into my relationship with God. Not that I am saved by works, for we are saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8) But that I must not become complacent in my faith and forget to guard myself from the little bits of dirt and weeds that can be present in my life.
Lord, help us to be diligent in the pursuit of godliness and sanctification, that we would not become invisible to the world, but that we would be visible and have a Christ-like influence. I pray that we would not fit in with the world around us, but that we would live a holy life by the grace that God gives us. I pray that we would not be useless in the furthering of the kingdom of Christ.