This morning I had several what I would call fleshy reasons for delaying going to church or just skipping it altogether.... right down to the critical minutes of decision...to go out the door or not. Almost before I could blink, I found myself behind the steering wheel, leaving my drive, with one destination firmly locked in.
I walked in five minutes late; what would be known to me in a matter of moments as His perfect timing.
The congregation stood mid-song. I did not. I sat on the back row, weary in well-doing. I closed my eyes, focused my thoughts on the One who had lead me to this point. Almost imperceptibly, the worship leader moved from one song right into "It Is Well With My Soul."
From my focused attention on the Trinity to the soul piercing lyrics, I prayed from under my breath, "Bring me to the point where I can sing the words with Truth." A tear trickled down my cheek, and then another, and slowly another. As the congregation continued to sing, His presence, with what I can only describe as authoritative, whispered, "You are there." Be it done according to His word.
Life comes to us, does it not. Yet outside its boundaries resides God. GOD.
Recently I watched a movie on Mother Teresa. I was captivated by its ability to depict a truth I have discovered in my own simple life. The more God inhabits within comes also an ever increasing darkness. Since watching the movie, I have sat for hours in God's presence contemplating her testimony of her life's experience and that of my own.
Just days after watching the movie, I had a visit from a dear young lady I easily think of as a daughter. As we talked, I found this intense passion erupting within me. "Pop-theology has arisen and is attempting to sell us this warped theology that we should seek out Godly self-fulfillment (what a concept of contradiction!) ....and that will bring us both joy and purpose. All the while, there is this parallel, mostly unspoken concept that it is permissible in reality to forsake the Gospel's call to die to self, or even more offensive to the Gospel than that, that the two concepts can co-exist! One thing is for certain; we cannot seek this so-called Godly self-fulfillment while dying to self, so each of us must decide: which is it going to be?"
By Mother Teresa's own words, she never pictured herself doing that which God called her to do. By contrast, think to yourself just how many times we all have heard "follow your heart - follow your talents."
The implication is that if you do, you'll eventually discover why God put you here. Yet by contrast, the testimonies of those such as Mother Teresa, George Müller, Smith Wigglesworth, William Wilberforce, to name a few.... laid out a very different path to discovery of purpose; a determined path unto death of self, picking up a cross they NEVER pictured....but God did.
Mother Teresa wrote of her deep personal struggle between that which she had pictured herself doing from an early childhood age to what God was calling her to do. She had not just a single moment, but countless momentS in her lifetime where she consciously and deliberately died to herself so she could do that which "God wills" ....her words time and again.
This past week I saw a link on Facebook to an article whose title was "Marriage Isn't Hard". Grabbing title, so I took the bait. I don't know the author, but I agree with her words. "If you take nothing else from this article, understand this: sin is what makes life hard. When we experience hardship within marriage, it is not because of marriage, it is because of sin. Every marital issue can be traced back to sin. Insecurity, jealously, infidelity, selfishness - whatever - it's sin that creates the void. That is why we see a culture full of broken marriages. That is the point - not discounting hardship in whatever form it appears in your life, including marriage, but to encourage us to view sanctification for what it is - a call to put sin to death. That is not isolated to the bounds of marriage."
When any relationship fails or falters, it is because we loved (and protected) our sin more than the person involved. Continue to make the choice, and the result can surely become catastrophic.
I read Ravi Zacharias's article - posted yesterday - "The Soul of America". Profound article worth the time to read. So many nuggets contained in that power-pact writing.
"How many families will be shattered and offered up at the altar of our foolishness?"
"Our society is being dragged towards the morgue because the law has held the gun to the heart of morality."
"Upholding a lie is a character flaw, sending that lie into eternity."
"There always has been, and is now more than ever, only one hope for rescue. If we abide in God’s truth revealed in his Son, then we shall know the truth and the truth will set us free. That is why I say again and again that we must dispense with our verbal arsenal that speaks only in terms of right and left. We have forgotten there is an up and a down. May God help us! We need His transforming power to change our thinking and to give us a hunger for what is true. True freedom is not in doing whatever we wish but in doing what we ought. That has been buried in America. And only one who knows the way out of the grave can give us a second chance to live: Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life that sets us free from within first, before we learn to deal with the lies around us."
Without a doubt, we are in troubling days. Days that demand Christians get DEADLY serious about their walk, that they deliberately shatter their theological blender and seek the Gospel in its pure and unadulterated state, seeking then to line their individual life up .... deliberately dying to self - embracing the increasing darkness that comes from such a life poured out -- to then wholly walk out God's picture and only God's picture.
I am convinced then and only then will we not only understand Paul's words, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" --- but be found living them.
My weighty question to you today is "Are you dying - not theoretically, but deliberately, daily dying to self and your picture of your life -- so Christ and Christ alone can live and be profoundly evident to an oh-so-lost-world?"
Without a doubt, I am on a path.... a deliberate, passionate path. I will have wasted this life if I do not wholly apprehend His will and His will alone for my existence.
Charles Spurgeon once said, "True Christians need never covet the poor joy of worldlings." Oh, that we would water that seed of truth such that the trappings of this world would lose their magnetism entirely!
I leave you with this song, "First." May we all be found petitioning God, "Bring me to the point where I can sing the words with Truth."
As God wills, be it done accordingly.