My Ironman Tattoo
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25
Years ago, I signed up for an ironman triathlon – a swim/bike/run race of over 140 miles. I’d previously done a couple of half-ironman races and I wanted to try a full one. I’m not a big tattoo guy, but I thought that if I finished it, I would get one of those ironman tattoos. I believed the race was a good idea. I paid my entrance fee. I intended to do it . . . but I never got around to training. Unfortunately, I was drowning in my addiction at the time and simply wasn’t motivated to even begin the required training. So, though I believed in the idea, I never got around to any of the doing. Needless to say, I didn’t run the race, and I never got my tattoo.
I did much the same in my addiction. I believed in recovery. I wanted it. I even prayed to God, asking for help. But I continued down my road of self-destruction, refusing to do anything. It was as if I was walking down my own path, unwilling to turn around, while yelling back over my shoulder, asking God to stop me.
Today’s passage reveals my error. In it, the author of Hebrews said that God saves us from ourselves – as we draw near to him. If we desire salvation, we must do whatever it takes to turn from ourselves and turn towards God. We don’t find faith and recovery by continuing down our road of self-destruction, while yelling over our shoulder for God to stop us. If we desire salvation, we must do the work of seeking God, which necessarily involves abandoning our way.
We often get this wrong. Yes, we believe in God. Yes, we think he’s a good idea. And yes, we want him to fix our problems. We still want to follow ourselves though. So, we never get around to doing that which is required of us. This is like me, wanting to run an ironman, while refusing to get off the couch. We think faith and recovery are good ideas, but we never get around to actually doing them. Then, we wonder why God won’t help us.
If we desire transformation, we must do what it takes to separate ourselves from whatever is dragging us away from God. Then we must turn to God, desperately seeking him. We can’t pursue God while we’re walking away from him. This doesn’t meant that God leaves us alone to fix ourselves. Rather, he saves us as we do what it takes to turn from our way to seek him.