“You’re not too old for your wants to hurt you.” I hated that phrase. I heard it from my mother too many times. I vowed I would never say it to my children.
My mother was a strong, country woman. She grew up milking goats. She was not a stranger to hard work. Her parents prepared her. She prepared us.
I broke the vow. I told my children, “you’re not too old for your wants to hurt you.” I pray they will tell their children.
Nothing is ever simple. If we were asked to list the spiritual disciplines, we might point to prayer, fasting, study, worship, solitude and fellowship. Never would we consider ruthlessness as a spiritual discipline. Yet given the insight, it emerges in the pages of the gospel.
The idea was introduced to me by a favorite writer, John Ortberg. Enlightened, the idea has become a prism for my faith. Pictured in the gospel is a stern Jesus who repeatedly warns us about the consequences of a lethargic faith. The message is clear. Sometimes tomorrow does not come.
So what are we to be ruthless about? In no short order, we are to be ruthless in retaining within our heart God’s perspective, the perspective that the here and now is but a moment in time while our eyes remain fixed upon salvation; and by so doing, nothing that the world hurls at us, even though doubt comes, will change God’s promise.
We are compelled to live in this present reality and patiently remain God’s steward in it while we hold dear God’s warm embrace. Never should we relinquish the eternal perspective given by God. Often we should ask for it. Often we should be quiet enough to receive it.
It is not irony that the more we see as God sees, the more we love as God loves. Herein is the fertile soil in which God works in us and through us.
“I am the true vine, and my gather is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away; and every branch that bears fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15: 1,2).
God loves us enough to be ruthless with our character. He desires that we be better. He prunes us without reservation.
As a golf professional, I keep in my files a picture of a beaver focused on catching his prey. If he fails, he does not eat. Focus is key. In faith, ruthlessness is crucial. Without it, time devours all good intention to be God’s servant, to contribute to His kingdom.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Be steadfast and immovable, Paul says. Be vigilant. Be ruthless.
My wants no longer hurt me. I want for nothing but God’s warm embrace. I remain steadfast. I move toward ruthlessness.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15).
Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Contact him at email@example.com.