Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,
but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Luke 22:31-32 ESV
I have been sifted. I know the Riddler’s voice in my head.
“You aren’t strong enough, brave enough, good enough, righteous enough, you aren’t enough. No one sees, hears, knows, cares, loves you. He doesn’t love you…He isn’t even real. What if this is all a lie? What if this is all there is? What if they are right? What if you are alone? How could a good God-”
I know what it is to stare at a black canyon at midnight at 70 mph. I know what it is to not believe the spark of life inside of me is worth fanning into flame. I know what it means to take my hands off the wheel and just quit. I know the selfishness of self-absorption.
I know what it is to make grand declarations of allegiance to a Savior I wasn’t so sure I would die for. I know what it is to wrestle with the whisper of “is this real” and “is there really a God who loves you anyway?” I know what it is like to run away from the fellowship of hand warming when a babe questioned my walk. I know Peter, he is my brother.
“…but I have prayed for you”
Those words. Some of the most powerful words to encounter my life became for me a living stone. A God made flesh, incarnation of love in me reality. A memorial of the way I was spoken back into existence and caused to stand upon feet firm and solid in faith. He prayed for me. My Intercessor asked for me to receive strength to not lose heart. To not give up. To find true faith. He made a way in me to Him in the middle of the dark forest of my wandering. Because he scattered crumbs from the table of his presence I did not die in my rebellion. When I was his enemy, he fed me. He prayed for me.
“and when you have turned again-“
I know what it is like to have sunlight pierce midnight. To have words form inside of my spirit blast against darkness. I know what it is like to hear the footsteps of love approach my wretchedness and transform the hanging ropes of despair into ribbons of grace. I know what it is to come groping into the light blindly waving my hands in front of my face to catch my stumbling steps, only to feel the steady grip of acceptance upon my shoulder.
“strengthen your brethren”
Can you really heal wounds if you yourself have never bled? Can you give hope when you know nothing of darkness or the pressure of the sieve? Can you lead anyone if you yourself have not turned resolutely to life? Can you teach anyone to pray, having not felt the posture of humility before the greatness of His love? Can you war, if you have never lost?
I know the sound of tempered steel. I know what it is to be weighed on the proving grounds, and waged in battle. I know now the treasure of whom I have believed. I know the way of narrowness and I have light for midnight. I know the fight of faith is a good one, a noble race run. I am at last able to say, I follow Christ because I know Him. I know as I have been known. He lives in me. I live in Him. I know the life I live is not my own, and I know he will finish what he has started in me. Be of good cheer, He has overcome the world.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 ESV