“Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” ~ Proverbs 9:5-6

This little proverb describes the journey of how a life can change for the better. First, we must come…come to Jesus, for we were made by God and for God, and without a relationship with him, we’ll be lost before we even begin the journey.

Then we must “eat of his bread”. We must let Jesus teach us how to live rightly. Without the nourishment of his Word, we won’t have the strength or direction to continue the journey.

The phrase “and drink of the wine I have mixed” tells us that to take this journey, we must be prepared to suffer.

In Mark 10, James and John came before Jesus, and asked if they could sit beside him on his throne once his kingdom was established. Jesus asked them, “Are you able to drink the cup I drink?” They glibly said, “Yes,” but they had no idea what they were talking about. Jesus was saying, “Are you ready to follow me on the road to suffering?” (James, incidentally, was the first of the original 12 disciples to be martyred. Be careful what you ask for.)

If you want to learn how to conquer sin and become a more loving, Christlike person, then know up front that suffering will be part of the deal.

Proverbs 9 begins with the words, “Wisdom has built her house…She has hewn out its seven pillars.” The writer compares building a life to building a house. When you come to Christ and give him your life, Jesus is not just going to add on a room to the building of your life, or splash on a fresh coat of religious paint, so that you look good. That’s not Christianity.  When Jesus comes into your life, he wants to tear your house down to the bare studs and rebuild your life from the ground up.

I like that word ‘hewn’. Have you ever split wood? When you swing that ax, you’re hewing.  And what you do after you hew is you say, “Whew! Glad that’s through.” (Perhaps after reading that last sentence you’re thinking, “Pew!”)

Hewing is hard work. So is building a life. Building a marriage that is strong and life-giving – takes hard work. Overcoming a nasty habit that’s been part of you for years – it’s hard.  Developing spiritual discipline – not easy. Some people say, “Time heals all wounds.” Time heals nothing. It just drives the scars and splinters deeper.

Healing will not come until you say, “You know what! There’s a splinter here, and this has got to come out.” And there’ll be screaming and there’ll be howling, there’ll be spewing while you’re hewing, and it will hurt, and you’ll want to quit. But for those who have the guts to address the splinter and do what it takes to get it out, Jesus will help them to learn to live in a way they never knew how before.

Building a marriage that lasts, walking away from an addiction, learning how to love – there’s nothing harder. It takes real suffering. But it’s worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears.  Jesus shed the blood. You shed the sweat. And that will bring the beast inside you to heel.

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