Everybody has a breaking point. There exists for every one of us a line in the sand—a barrier beyond which there can be no return.
That line represents the uncompromising reality of who we are in our own minds. Those who push us to that line, can never walk with us again. It is over.
To willingly cross that line in our sand, is to deny ourselves–it is to die. And, for most, that is not an option to be considered without a fight to the death. Somewhere, sometime, down that jungle of life, you and I will find ourselves cornered, and forced to fight for what that line stands for.
You don’t have a choice. You will be confronted. Everyone must deal with their line in the sand. God demands it!
It is what I refer to as a Mt Moriah Moment. That mountain was where Abraham was confronted by God to sacrifice Isaac. He was being asked to kill his blessing—his very heart—the son whom God had miraculously given to him—the one he loved.
God brought Abraham to his own line in his desert and gave him a choice: Me or the kid.
Eve’s line in the sand hung from a stem from a special tree in the middle of the most blessed garden, and it represented her hunger for independence. For believers leading up to the Flood of Noah (those called sons of God), their line was represented by string bikini’s of the daughter’s of men, whom they chose to marry in defiance of God. For Job’s wife, her line was putting up with watching her husband suffer with illness, to which she advised him to curse God and die.
It seems that few get to pass through this life without dealing with their line. And those who do die prematurely will still face judgment, so even for them, their line is coming.
Sampson’s line was resisting the complaining of his wife, who cared more about her own life than his, and by telling her the secret of his super-human strength, he crushed himself to death. King Saul’s line was the shame at listening to his subjects’ praise some upstart kid who killed a giant, rather than shouting God-save-the-king, and he ended up becoming tormented with a demon, and had his line cut short before it could even become a royal line.
Solomon’s line was his passion for foreign women. For many of the Israelite kings, their line was in practicing the mysteries of pagan idolatry and fitting in with the nations around them. For the prophet Balaam, his line was directly measured by the size of his purse string, and how much wealth he could gather in exchange for his religious services.
This line is not simply a matter of sin. It is a do-or-die ultimatum to which humans tell God to get lost.
As Jesus walked this earth, many were exposed to their line. Many early disciples of Christ balked at the Lord’s insistence that they eat his flesh and drink his blood—that was too much to expect, and they turned away from God. The rich young ruler came to Jesus, but turned away when he was told to give up his great wealth and then come follow Christ. Many of the religious leaders believed in Jesus, but refused to confess their faith, out of fear of what other important people would think of them.
For a large number of the Pharisees, their line was in the threat to maintaining their jobs and status, as the go-to religious leaders, if Jesus continued to draw large numbers of followers. For others it was the confrontation to their theology that One God could still exist as One with a separate Son of God who was “equal with God”. Others couldn’t stomach the gut-wrenching disappointment that their Messiah hadn’t come as a conquering hero, but as a suffering loser.
The Lord even drew a literal line in the sand and wrote shocking things at an informal trial of a woman caught in adultery—the details of which caused the pious accusers to turn away until none remained. When facing such a line, that is how it always ends–with only one still standing.
This line looks different for each person; it shows up unexpectedly and at times we are often unprepared to face it; and, it always addresses the deepest desires of our heart or the deepest fears of our mind—things that we likely don’t even know are so extremely important to us, until we reflect on our own drastic response to make it all go away.
Many in the early church drew their line at the seventh day Sabbath or physical circumcision. For others it was angel worship, or endless pursuits of genealogies, or comparisons of who could do the most miracles, or who was the most persuasive preacher, or claims that one race is better than another. For some, their line was in being expected to publicly confess their sin in humiliating repentance; for others it was in the friendship-undermining command to confront sin in others. For some it was in allowing for freedom in others, or perhaps in turn denying themselves the freedom to indulge.
The Christian widow who lives for pleasure is said to already be dead. Those professing believers who continue in their exposed sin display the evidence in their pattern and are said to become known as “children of the Devil”. Those ministers who teach many things well, but are not careful to stay within the revelation of God, are identified as beasts whose purpose is simply to be caught and destroyed.
Every one of us has a line—something so engraved within, that nothing and no one is allowed to cross it. In other words, someone must die, when that line is faced.
Peter faced his line of fear of suffering while the rooster crowed. Paul faced his line of defending the Old Covenant Law, while charging forward on his horse toward Damascus to attack Christians. Thomas faced his line with demands of the scientific method to verify that Jesus had truly come back to life.
So where do you draw your line in the sand?
Where will you take your stand against God?
Don’t deceive yourself by thinking you are above this, or beyond such a struggle, or protected from being exposed for who you really are. Every person who professes faith in Christ must come to an end of themselves.
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”. (Mt 10:37)
Is that you? If God challenges you on this, what will you do? What will it take to prove to God that you are willing to face your Mt Moriah Moment with a dying to what is good and right—like your love for your own family?
“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Mt 24:10-13)
Jesus prophesied that many Christians would reject their faith in him, without them even realizing it, when false ministers start preaching things that sound good, but actually distort the truth. This popular religion will contribute to an increase in wickedness that will suck the love of Christ out of “most” believers. This line for many Christians is directly related to the theology they swallowed in their favorite church.
“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” (Mt 10:33)
This is being spoken to those who profess belief in Jesus—Christians. Those who think they belong to Jesus, but ignore the biblical truth that they still remain vulnerable to disowning him…That is their line. And, when it gets confronted, they will disown the one they thought they worshiped. As stated later, “If we disown him, he will also disown us.”
“The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (Jn 12:25)
It doesn’t matter who we think we believe in. If we try to save our life on this earth, when confronted with a circumstance that puts our life-style at risk, our reputation at risk, our comfort zone at risk, our ideas at risk, or even our very physical existence at risk, then we are promised that God will destroy our life a second and final time. As confirmed elsewhere: “Whoever loves this world and the things in it, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Some thing of this world is your line. It might be comfort, it might be freedom, it might be independence, it might be wealth, entertainment, drugs, happiness, experiences, food, attention, influence, successes, pleasures, beliefs, theologies, dreams, identities, abilities, politics, talents, or even plans for your future. Many of these things are right and good of themselves, but when they contribute to us drawing a line in the sand between us and God, they are deceitful and disastrous.
This is part of what is meant by “take up your cross daily, and follow me, or you have no part in me”. Somebody has to die when the lines of our identity and beliefs are confronted. The example of Jesus is demonstrated as accepted when we daily allow ourselves, at the point our ideas and wants are exposed, to be crucified and killed, rather than by trying to nail others to a tree.
What will you do if God confronts your ideas about Christians going into the military, or about women preaching in church, or about getting divorced and remarried, or about illicit sex, or about apparent guarantees for salvation, or about who makes the final decisions in your home, or about your personal habits and side interests?
As the parable of the soils reveals, that line gets exposed at different times for people. For some, it comes right up front, when the truth of God is presented to them. That truth gets snatched right out from under them and they continue on in ignorance to their own impending destruction. For others, there is great joy at coming to know and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, but when difficulties come up in their life, they become disillusioned, thinking that God is supposed to make their life easier, better, and free of pain. They quickly turn away when they don’t get what they expected from God at the time they wanted it. For the third group, they matured in their Christian faith, but some time later on—like happened with Abraham—they come face to face with their Mt Moriah Moment. Unlike the patriarch, however, their anxieties about struggles in this life and their pursuit of wealth choke the life of God out of them. After many years in the church, when they finally stand at their line, they prefer to let God die in them, rather than allow themselves to die. Three out of four groups fail (most of whom believe the gospel), when their line gets challenged.
This is the very issue addressed in red letters by Jesus from the throne of God to the 7 churches in Revelation. Most were commended as doing well in lots of areas, but “this one thing I have against you”. As a congregation, they had come to their line before God. The Lord’s command was repent-or-else. They had a choice to make: surrender and die to themselves on that issue, or face the destructive sword of the Lord as he slaughters those who defend their beliefs against him. Every Christian, on their own as well as in their church associations, will be confronted with their own line in the sand.
Your line is coming. You need to get ready to face it to the death.
Is there anything in your life, your history, your desires, or your fears around which you clench your fist? Learn to expose yourself to God without resorting to fig leaves; to offer every detail of what you possess materially and mentally with an open hand. Give sacrificially of any resource that stands out, especially in areas of obvious blessing, in order to keep personal human nature in submission. Practice restraining, and at times denying yourself, not simply in excesses, but even in those things that naturally contribute to satisfactions that are based in this world. Don’t let yourself become so comfortable that you fall asleep.
In God’s amazing grace, he has revealed that “those who judge themselves, don’t need to fall under judgment”. If we actively engage in disciplining ourselves, in order to stay alert and self-controlled before the Lord, then there is less need for God to confront us with those lines in the sand. It is unlikely that we can dodge all correction, but those who are faithful in the little things, are promised to also be faithful when facing their Mt Moriah Moments.
The faithful in Christ, who endure to the end, like Abraham, will raise their knife over any blessing, if or when it stands between them and God. It is when standing at this line, that God will then announce, to those who consistently carry their cross:
“Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
“I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son. I will surely bless you…because you obeyed me.”
Whether God speaks audibly, or by impression, or simply through a collision of circumstances, will you surrender anything and everything in order to honor your Lord ahead of sustaining the good in your life?
That line can be drawn anywhere, at any time, in any shape, and at any number of occurrences. In whatever way we find ourselves at such a crossroads, we have a choice: cry out for wisdom and help, fully prepared to die to whatever we hold dear, or scream “crucify him”.
Remember, our Lord raises the dead, so fear nothing in the sand!