A few weeks ago, I completed my CVM Grand Challenge. It was a deeply moving weekend in my life, and in the lives of those who accompanied me. I was asked during the final climb, on Snowdon, what had been the most significant aspect of the weekend for me. Surprisingly it was this; over that weekend I had proven to myself that with a bit of discipline I can achieve anything.
I have to be honest with you, there were a number of times during those climbs that I could quite easily have given up. This was especially the case on Scafell Pike, the middle climb. There were many incentives to keep on going, not least the words of Steve Martin ringing in my ears.
This morning I read some verses from Galatians 5, the words that particularly jumped from the passage were: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”. It got me thinking about the freedom I am entitled to have through life in Christ, but also how that freedom comes at a pretty high cost.
The obvious high cost is that Jesus had to go to the cross, on my behalf, to gain it. Without the selfless sacrifice of Christ, there would be no freedom to be had in the first place. However, there is a pretty high cost for me too:
I must follow Jesus!
I must daily take up my cross!
I must be surrendered to Him!
I must be His disciple!
I must be disciplined!
But in the same way that climbing the three peaks with a nine-foot cross proved to me that with a bit of discipline I can achieve anything, so taking up my cross every day even when I do not feel like doing it means that I can have all the freedom Christ promises me. When we have the kind of freedom that Galatians 5:1 speaks of, we become very powerful men, we become real world-changers, we become like Christ himself.
There is another verse in John (14:30) where Jesus tells his disciples that Satan is coming for him. The thing is that Satan was always doomed to fail. Why? Because of the way Jesus lived his life! His absolute discipline, his total focus meant that the enemy would have no way of getting control over Him. Satan will keep coming for us, but how we live our lives will determine how much control he can or cannot have over us.
Our lives, this side of the Kingdom, will always ebb and flow. There will be times when we will need to rely more heavily on discipline than at other times. However, the promise always remains—it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. So, if you are in that moment, when you just need to make the right decisions for the right decisions sake; if, right now, it feels like you are having to guts it out a bit, remember this, the result of such discipline is that you get to achieve what you first thought was beyond you. True freedom knows no limitations.
One last encouragement, for those of us who feel like we have lost time, even years, remember this: Jesus Christ is the only One who can give you back what you once thought was totally lost:
“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten– the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm…” Joel 2:25