..like we should

It is customary around this time of year for us as human beings to review the year we’ve had, celebrate what “went well” and what we could improve on. Often, the growth opportunity is bound up in a construct called a “New Year’s Resolution”. On an internet forum that I frequent, a certain woman of faith was discussing her New Year’s resolutions and her distaste of her self, her motivations, and her ‘faith-standing’ as a result. She said,

“I keep thinking of the Scripture where Jesus said, ‘Come, Follow me’ and the disciples just dropped everything, right then, right there.. and followed. No 12 step program, no ‘easing’ into it.. they just dropped everything, and followed.. they were wrapped in just as much flesh as me…..yet they dropped everything to follow Him”.

And so they did.. but their walk was not consistent thereafter, and they went through the same growing pains we do as Christ-followers today. My response to her follows..

None of us follow Him “like we should”.. not always.

This Western world has much to offer that will all be consumed as stubble in the Light of that Day. This – as Paul writes – “light and momentary trouble..” seems so persistent to us, but this world and its trappings will one day be consumed, and the only thing left will be the souls of those that accepted Christ and obeyed Him.

I hear several things in your note, and I could have written it! Since this resonated with me so deeply today, I’d like to offer some commentary, and as a result, form my own thoughts and focus my heart on Him too!

Who We Are In Christ
I don’t pretend to know what Robert Heinlein’s faith life was like, but he wrote a book that described a man called Valentine Michael Smith who was raised on Mars, by Martians, and after returning to Earth, he encounters many strange things that seem completely foreign to him. Ignoring for a moment the strong parallels in this book to the Corinthian church during Paul’s ministry, Smith’s influence on Earth changes the face of humanity in a fairly short time.

Shouldn’t this be us!? Shouldn’t the world be changed by our having been here? Go, and preach to all nations… right? When the Word is preached, people are cut to the heart. When their hearts change from stone to flesh, significant changes are seen in their lives. When this happens in a family, it is powerful; and when it happens in several families, the community is transformed!

Like Smith, we should – after being transformed – look upon this world as Smith looked upon Earth. Though he was human (‘of’ Earth’), he was raised by Martians and had a Martian outlook. He saw the world through Martian eyes. Shouldn’t we – more and more as the Day draws near – see this world through His eyes? This place must, more and more, become an enigma to us. Strange, scary, and sad. We should ever more feel less at home here, and more at home with Him. An interesting corollary here is that, if we are coming closer to Him, we will – necessarily – have an ever-heightened need to share the Gospel with this dark and declining planet!

We are strangers, have been declared such by God and have at our disposal the power that raised Christ from the dead! Still, we rush home to watch “Survivor”. Really?! We have the power of a Savior, a God who shed His ultimate universe-creating power, to take on human form as a helpless babe, lived a life of privation – even by earthly standards at the time – and was tortured and the killed in the worst way known to us; was raised from the dead on the third day and ascended into heaven where He sits at the right hand of our Father.. we have THAT POWER, and we rush home to see who might get voted off the island!? You can’t FIND a better ‘Survivor’ story than our Lord, unless you count the myriad stories of the saints He has saved by His mighty power.

This is why we must preach – and hear – the simple Gospel regularly and share our personal testimony with one another. Yes, growth is important, but a warm glass of milk every now and again is soothing and helps us remember that we are His children, secure in Him but with astonishing power at our disposal.

Growth in Him
I hear your frustration in the fact that our walk is a faltering one. We fail often, we stumble, we may even walk the wrong way for a time. An image that sometimes helps me is related by C.S. Lewis in “The Four Loves” where he talks about a man that begins down a steep canyon after a long trip. He has already walked many miles, and he can see the smoke rising from the chimney in his home just below, but because there is no (safe) quick way there, he must traverse the dangerous and rocky trail of switchbacks many miles to get down that canyon. He is so close, but has so far to go.

It seems like that for us, doesn’t it? At times we feel so close to God, and so close to really ‘being in Him’.. working out His will, etc, but at other times we see only the rocky trail and it feels like we are so far away, with so much toil and pain between us and the goal. How are we to ‘remember’ that we are yet ‘in Him’ at those times?

The most important thing to always remember is something you are already very good at, and that is the knowledge that our eternal security hinges on His faithfulness, and not on our own. This does not make a person who is truly saved ‘complacent’ with an easy faith that produces no fruits in the life, but it is that solid ground upon which we place our feet when the storms blow and all else is taken away. We stand with Job when he has lost all, and his ‘friends’ are ‘helping’ him.. he is personally ‘lost’ and is left with only one hope, one cry to the winds, one things he knows; and he cries, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth”.

Take heart in the fact that your heart has been renewed, and hold the line when the wind blows. When you are ‘in the zone’, you feel His presence, share it with others openly! Then, try to find ways of getting your heart and mind in that ‘zone’!

Focus on Him
In ancient Hellenic legend, the Sirens were several creatures with bodies of women and birds who inhabited the flowery island of Anthemoessa. Their haunting songs would float over the water, mesmerizing sailors and drawing them into the rocks, and to their deaths. Jason and his Argonauts, on a quest, solved this issue by bringing Orpheus the poet along. Orpheus sat on the deck and played his lyre and sang, and instead of blocking their ears (as Odysseus’ men had done), they listened only to the sweet sounds of the lyre. Their focus was on Orpheus alone, and thus they did not fall prey to the Sirens.

That’s a pretty good picture of what we can do here in the West, isn’t it? We can ‘block out’ the noise, not by denying it, ignoring it, or removing it, but by focusing exclusively on Him and His calling in our lives. We start with the Word and prayer, and we follow God’s general will as revealed in Scripture. As we mature, we listen to His calling and direction.. hearing His instructions as we walk, “Turn to the left, or turn to the right”.

We must be willing to leave it all behind (physically), but it isn’t a prerequisite to following Him (leaving it emotionally is absolutely required for upward growth). Having things is not wrong. Having idols is wrong. Having much and knowing – every minute – that it all belongs to Him and has been stewarded to you is good!

Don’t you feel that God knew how this world would pull at us, confuse us with blaring horns, bright lights, and so on? This is why He gave us gifts of knowledge like, “Be still, and know that I am God”.

Take heart O woman of faith! Keep your feet on that solid rock, and focus on Him. He is your reward, your spring of joy, and your ever-present help.

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And blog reader, He is yours as well. Praise the Lord!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 at 10:12 and is filed under Faith. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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