Ruth Ann Replogle (column mug)ENE

Now more than ever your faith will be tested. Are you ready?

I recently was reminded of a quote that’s been attributed to Dr. Seuss: “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

As I’ve mentioned before, I have always felt like an outsider, a wayfarer, someone who doesn’t quite fit in. And for the longest time, I thought that was a bad thing … until I realized I was exactly who God made me to be and He likes me just as I am.

I stood out like a sore thumb among my peers growing up because my belief system (strengthened by the faithful discipleship of my parents) was strong and distinctly set me apart from the average teenager.

When I served as a summer missionary while as a collegiate student, one of the things I remember the most was answering the call of when the Lord, when asked “Who will go?”

I answered that I would.

(My response stemmed from Isaiah 6:8 — “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”)

Steven Curtis Chapman had a popular song in the 1990s called “For the Sake of the Call” that illustrated this: “Nobody stood and applauded them/So they knew from the start/This road would not lead to fame/All they really knew for sure/Was Jesus had called to them/He said ‘come follow Me’ and they came/With reckless abandon, they came”

The thought of backing down from my faith, to not go forth, to not stand firm, to not follow with reckless abandon when Jesus beckons … it saddens my heart as it must have when Peter heard that rooster crow.

My life verse I proudly state again is Joshua 1:9 — “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

There is a ton of uncertainty these days. Often times it feels like opposition is pressing in from every angle, our faith is being challenged, and we may even secretly wonder why the Lord has forsaken us.

I have many friends for whom the struggle is real and their livelihood is seriously on the line. They are faced with the battle of “Do I stand up for my beliefs and lose my job? Or do I back down and conform at the risk of compromising myself?”

It’s not that God couldn’t provide them with what they need and/or guide them to another career field; it’s the sheer principle of standing up for what one believes in despite what the world says.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” — Romans 12:2

Christians are to pattern themselves after Christ (therefore be Christ-like), which means we are to spend time with Him, follow Him, depend on Him, trust Him, and ultimately know Him.

As such, we are to separate ourselves from what the world (politicians, social media, neighbors, co-workers, even well-meaning family) thinks. If it doesn’t meet God’s standards as set forth in scripture, we shouldn’t be listening to it or doing it.

In fact, we are to resist the enemy according to 1 Peter 5:6-9 — “Humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.”

We are meant to stand out, to be a contrast to the culture around us.

Take the courage of Peter and John in Acts 4:13. They sure stood out and “astonished” those around them. These two were ordinary, uneducated blue-collar workers who were preaching to the leaders of that day, amazing these well-versed scholars and elders by their words. And the world took note — it was evident the men “had been with Jesus.”

Are you ready to go against the tide and be noticed for living for the Lord? Would those around you know that you’ve been with Jesus? Will you be strong and courageous, standing firm today?

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Replogle is a freelance writer who provides columns for the News & Eagle. She can be reached at www.facebook.com/JustHoldOnRR or justholdonrr@gmail.com

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