[This blog post first appeared in the FORMDEV website, as part of the Reflections project the Bible Study leaders of our community are starting. Reflections is a simple bi-weekly journal and reflection written by the Bible Study leaders of FORMDEV, although there are plans of accepting guest writers as well. The current theme of Reflections is on quiet time, and how important quiet time truly is to each Christian believer. I felt compelled to share this with you, my dear reader, since not all of you are part of FORMDEV. It is in the hope that the message reaches more people, hopefully touching more hearts.]
During the last Bible Study I attended (the one led by Jacats); I couldn’t help but emphasize the importance of a personal testimony, one that stems from our own personal experiences of the Lord. Little did I know that God was preparing me to testify too, and so now I share with you my testimony, the testimony of one who wandered away from the Father, entering into a life of sin. This is the testimony of one whom, after finding out that he was knee-deep in the ways of the world, tried to make his own way back to God only to fail each time. This is the testimony of one who was lost but was found, not by his own volition, but because the Father found him and He Himself, through His awesome power and infinite love, provided him his way back. This is my testimony, and I hope that through this, you may be inspired, even a little bit, not because of my story, but because of God’s mighty hand that was ever present in it.
Before I begin though, I would like to share a story. This story is about a little frog who found himself stuck inside a deep well. The little frog cannot remember anymore (or maybe the little frog chose to forget) how he got stuck; all he knew was he just found himself stuck inside the well, and with no way out. The frog tried countless times to get out of the well by jumping up its walls, but the well was so slippery that he found himself slipping down more than he was climbing up. Every time his little legs felt any semblance of strength, he would once again attempt to get out, only to find himself wearily slipping down. The little frog felt hopeless and tired; he knew he wasn’t getting out any time soon.
Now, this story has three endings, but only one of them is happy. In the first version, crows, seeing the little frog’s dejected state, started flocking the lip of the well. The frog, in his hopelessness, took his chances with the crows. The crows dropped a bucket on the little frog, enticing him to get on. The crows then pulled him out, but the moment he got out (and full of joy as well), the crows began to feast on him. In the second version, the frog cried out to other frogs, who heard his plea. The little frog asked the other frogs if they could drop him pebbles and stones so he could climb on them. So the other frogs began dropping pebbles and stones to the bottom of the well, which the little frog happily used to climb up. Seeing the progress of the little frog, the other frogs began throwing larger and larger stones, hoping that this would help the little frog climb out faster. In the end, the little frog couldn’t keep up and was crushed under the weight of the stones.
Now, it’s obvious that neither one is the happy ending, but before I give the final version of the story, let me explain first and relate the story of the little frog to my own experience. You see, and I would admit to this albeit shamefully, my relationship with God had gone stale recently. It has been a long time since I last had a good quiet time with the Father; I do pray, but I do so hurriedly and not with the intention of spending time with Him. I was like a little frog stuck inside the well, a well of sin. I tried getting out of that well, shrugging it off at times even, pretending I wasn’t in one, but this only made my condition worse. Like the little frog, I end up growing tired and weary each time I attempt to free myself from temptation and sin.
So where does the three endings piece in? In the first version, the crows symbolize the devil. The enemy, seeing you in your weakened state, would offer you an easy way out, only to be preyed upon in the end, bringing about your destruction. It’s very tempting to fight sin with sin, with justification being the gel that binds them together. We know that we have sinned, and our relationship with the Father had gone stale (or even broken), but we still choose to fall for the temptation of Satan, thinking that what seems “good” for us can never be bad. I myself has fallen victim to this, and while shameful, I would have to admit that there was a time during my apparent “separation” with the Father that I did fall into more sin. I have only God to thank now that I was able to recover, unlike what happened to the poor little frog in our story.
In the second version, the other frogs symbolize human attempts at breaking free from sin. The little frog, confident that he can get himself out of the well on his own, devised a clever plan of enlisting the help of other frogs and using rocks and stones to create his own path out of the well. This proved fruitful for the time being, as how human efforts prove to be most of the time. But since these efforts aren’t rooted in the Father, as Jesus said in John 15:6, they would be “like a branch that is thrown away and withers”. Remember that the battle against sin is a spiritual battle, and as such, physical weapons bear no efficacy. And yes, this I also learned, as I made several well-intentioned attempts that weren’t rooted in faith, but not one of them proved successful.
Now, let me share the happy ending, the third and final version of the story. In this version, the little frog cried out to the Father, broken and repentant, begging the Father to give him a way out. And then it began to rain. The little frog, refreshed at the cool feeling of the rain, began to feel at rest, his tired little muscles feeling weary no more. He did wonder though why it suddenly began to rain, and if this indeed was the Father’s answer to his prayer, but he remained steadfast anyway. Slowly, the well began to fill with water. The water began to rise taking the little frog along with it. Eventually the frog was swept up and over the lip of the well. Not only did he not have to do anything, he was cooled and refreshed at the same time.
Isn’t it wonderful? This was exactly what happened to me. Last evening, I simply found myself weary, tired, broken and repentant. I presented myself before the Father, submitting to Him, asking Him to get me out of my miserable situation. And truly, after a long long time, I was able to spend a good quiet time with Him, and did it feel refreshing! Truly, God is an awesome awesome God! I didn’t even have to do anything! He made the way for me, and He pointed me to the right direction. This is how awesome God is, and though sometimes we misconstrue, in the end, if we stick with the Father, things are bound to not only turn up well, but perfect and beautiful too!
So, if right now you think you have a sin that you have not repented for yet, and it’s hindering you from spending some time with the Father, do not be afraid. Jesus came to give hope to the hopeless, and more than anybody else, God understands your situation. His requirement is neither plans nor effort; his only requirement is a repentant heart and a broken spirit, and indeed are we all broken spirits in the time of sin. He does not demand any physical sacrifice or offering either, nor does He demand promises or oaths.
He only wants you to return to Him, and nothing more.