Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! We also pray for all of those for whom Father’s Day is bittersweet. Maybe you’ve lost a dad, been disappointed by a dad, or haven’t had an earthly dad in your life.
There’s a process of becoming a dad which includes growing and changing.
Fatherhood is hard work with no instruction manual. In the hospital, you hold your child for the first time and suddenly, you’re a dad. Then you are placed into a car and given a “good luck” pat on the back. When that baby grows up to be 15, you’re no less of a father than you were on the first day you held a little baby in the hospital yet, in between, there’s a process of becoming a dad which includes growing and changing. Then later, you may become a grandfather, which is a whole new level of being a dad! Fatherhood has a past (becoming), a present, and a future.
Salvation is like fatherhood in that way: it also has a past, a present, and a future.
Salvation’s Past - Romans 8:24
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?
The decision to follow Christ happens in a moment (Romans 10:9). Just as Paul was rising to power as a religious leader and pursuing the persecution of Jesus’ followers, God knocked him off his donkey, blinded him, and sent him to a believer who helped him become a disciple. This was the beginning of Paul’s salvation journey. If you decided to follow Christ at some point, salvation happened in one moment of your life, but that’s not all there is to salvation.
Salvation’s Present - Philippians 2:12-13
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Once you are saved, God wants to fulfill something in you. It’s not over and finished, but rather it must be worked out in the present and as you go on your journey. Salvation is happening every single day according to the power that lies within you. We sin, we repent, we learn, we grow, and we walk alongside the Lord as he leads us through the trials and triumphs of life.
Salvation’s Future - Romans 13:11
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
Revelation tells us that one-day the glory of the Lord will come and there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Someday our salvation will come - free from this fallen world and this present age of hate crimes, death, illness, and evil.
If you have been saved, you are working out your salvation and it’s a continual process. Jesus loves us right where we are as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us as we are. He wants us to press on, moving forward on the journey with Him.
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 2 Peter 3:15
Pastor Ricky shared a funny recent story in which he mistakenly booked a disabled campsite for his family’s week long vacation. After packing the car to the hilt and making the journey, he was denied the spot because he did not have a disabled placard. Because the campground was booked solid, they were turned away. As Pastor Ricky put it, he “did not display the fruits of the Spirit” in his response, and he decided to take the spot anyway. Even after being saved long ago and working out his salvation over twenty years and serving in a pastor’s role, there’s no point at which he can say he’s perfect with no need to continue working out his salvation. (By the way, a ranger worked out the situation for them and gave them an emergency site, and Ricky apologized for his behavior!)
Pastor Ricky compared salvation to a 20-mile mountain climb. Someone may be crossing the trailhead at the bottom, someone may be four miles in, and someone may have come a long way up the mountain, close to the peak, yet one is not better than another. The church is all on a journey together. We may need to turn around and encourage someone behind us, we may need help moving forward after an injury in the climb, or we may be wandering off the path and feeling lost, but we can all support one another and help each other with the continued climb.
Take a moment to evaluate your position on the journey. Do you need to cross the line and become a follower of Christ? Or do you need to commit to moving forward on your journey?
Finally, we circle back to fatherhood. If you are a dad, don’t give up! You may feel lost and in need of wisdom. You may have messed up and need to apologize. Being a dad is hard work with no instruction manual, but don’t give up. If you crossed the line into fatherhood, you’re on the journey. Don’t give up and do whatever you need to do to keep moving forward!