My daughter got her braces off yesterday. The dentist showed her before and after pictures of her teeth. She was amazed by the difference. The rest of the day she went around with a big grin. She was so happy to be free of the braces and the pain associated and she knew that she looked good. Such a beautiful smile! The dentist gave her a retainer to wear at night. It is important to wear it everyday to keep the teeth where they are. I have known many adults who have had braces in the past and many of them eventually stopped using their retainer. As a result, their teeth slowly began to shift back to their original places. Now they didn’t go back entirely, but the difference was far less dramatic. And all of them regret it.
The same can be said of us. We come to salvation and the Lord does a mighty work in our lives. We are filled with joy and praise for God is always on our lips. In order to retain our lives in strength, joy, and victory, we must be diligent to use the tools the Lord has given to us: prayer and Bible reading. We start out well, but over time, we get distracted and eventually we begin to believe that this new life is our norm and we really don’t need to keep using our “retainers.” Slowly our lives start to shift back, old habits start to creep in, and our light dims. When we are faced with difficult situations, we don’t have the strength to fight, we can’t find our joy and victories turn to defeat.
We are taught in Colossians and 2 Peter, that there is work to do after salvation:
“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”. (Col 2:6-7)
“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” (2 Peter 1:5-9)
Sometimes, we need to dig out the “before” and “after” pictures of our lives and remember what God has done for us. Then, we will recognize that we need the “retainers.” My life was fraught with fear, depression, chaos and desperation. Now I have peace, joy, and contentment. Do I want to slide back or do I want to continue in victory? God has given me the tools that I need to be victorious everyday. He has no desire to see me fail, but will meet me as soon as I dust them off. I am so grateful for His faithfulness! What has God done for you?