Tuesday, December 6, 2016

And There was No Return

 Driving along the interstate, we reached the area where the traffic compresses into a tight ball weaving through concrete barriers and cones. A large digital sign read, "Exit 20 No Return." Seems ominous and, trust me, it is if you take this exit after being in the car for almost an hour with a grumpy toddler. Too bad I didn't see it.

 Not realizing the construction crew had closed the ramp to get back on the interstate, I used exit 20. I was just going to pop off, get some food then pop back on the interstate and go home. 

 Jellybean was kicking the backseat and had been "uh-uh-ing" at me the last 25 minutes of the drive. This is a sound that he has perfected to a finely tuned weapon. It slices straight to your nervous system in 0 to 10 seconds with great precision. It is also a warning system to let you know that a full-on tantrum will ensue if you do not heed the warning. He was being slow to tantrum that day. Bless him because we had unknowingly entered the point of no return and would have to take the looooong way home. It was not pretty folks.

 That sign is a blaring reminder to be mindful of the choice I make when going home. No one wants to find out that they blindly reached a place of no return. 

 Many of our decisions in life have consequences that bring us to the point of no return.  A decision is made, good or bad, and there is no going back from that choice. In court on adoption day, the judge was very thorough in telling us that adopting Jellybean means we agree to raise him as our own for his entire life and there is no backing out of it if we agree. A joyful decision still today. 

 Marriage is supposed to be like this, too, but the world has tried to make it a disposable choice with many exit points. Rest assured, it is not so to God. 

 That soapbox aside...the sign reminded me to think that living in this world as Christians, we have an obligation in love to let people know about Jesus and what He has done. People can choose to keep rushing down the interstate of life but once they draw that last breath, that is their point of no return. They have taken the exit with no return ramp. There will be no route to escape God's judgment and the punishment is worse than being stuck in a car with a toddler with a bad attitude and a stinky diaper. Rightfully so, when He spared nothing to provide a way to restore mankind. 

 On the flip side, when you belong to Jesus, there is no chance that you will drift away. Belonging to Jesus is a wonderful, comforting point of no return. It is a powerful Truth that I am thankful for especially during this season.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Waves are Hard but so is Gently Rolling Water

 It seemed that everything was turning a corner. Life was smoother. Attitudes were softer. Personalities were loving and kind, even considerate. Hugs came on a regular basis and sweet compliments flowed like honey. Who could ask for more right? 

 If you have spent time praying for a loved one who has been shut off or harsh, this change would seem like a welcome sight, especially when it took so many prayers and studying God's Word to get your own heart responding to the struggle in a Godly manner.  

 The popular quotation from C.H. Spurgeon, "I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages," is one you can relate to when you are pushing through difficult relationships. Learning to not just accept but appreciate the difficulty that drives you to desperately rely on Christ is not easy but what about when the waves die down. 

 What about when there is just a gentle rocking of the water that lulls you into a relaxed state? Just as it seems that you have gotten to a place where your personal struggle is gaining victory, you find yourself floating along with no struggle at all.

 Or do you? 

 Once upon a time, I would pray for God to soften a person's heart so that they were easier to deal with but then God allowed it to happen. That is when wisdom showed me that this is a struggle that is actually just as hard as the driving waves. 

 You think I am crazy, don't you? And you are probably correct but not about this matter.

 When you deal with a person who is harsh, unloving, or just plain hateful to Christianity, it is easy to remember to pray and rely upon God. You know to hold tight to Truth because you realize that there is nothing in you that can help the situation. It is also no difficult matter to keep in mind their true need for Christ and in whom to seek your satisfaction and joy

 But flip this scenario over. What if you have someone who is loving and sweet and compassionate, but not walking with Christ? Sure, it is less complicated to love them but you do it from a different motivation. Falling into the trap of being satisfied in what they are providing you emotionally and even physically, makes you lose focus of their real need. Once you lose that, you quickly forget to rely on God for wisdom in dealing with this person. When that happens, there is only a short step to neglecting to pray because you forget that you both need it. The wave that threw you against the Rock of Ages is now quietly and sweetly drifting you out to sea without you realizing it.

 As challenging as it is, you have to remember that knowing Jesus is the ultimate goal for a person whether kind or hard-hearted. The necessity of keeping your focus becomes clear when a person slips from their sweetness and is having a bad day. They fall short of the unrealistic expectation you have put on them and act in a way that is hurtful. You become painfully aware that you have forgotten how to kiss the wave or why you even needed to in the first place. 

 We must maintain a diligence in prayer and seeking God in the face of the good, bad, or ugly. In this way, we truly love others because they are not weighed down by our expectations and they see an inexplicable, consistent love that is not tied to our wants or circumstances. 

 Don't let ease or happiness make you complacent. Stay diligent and focus on the eternal. And when the wave dies down, remember that it will be necessary for you to swim against the gently rolling water to the Rock before you drift too far. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Satisfaction Anemia

 Why do Christians find themselves deficient in satisfaction? 

 It happens quite often in my life sadly. Christians should really not have a satisfaction that is lethargic and waning. Our satisfaction is not tied to this world or the things in it, including people. Our satisfaction is found in Jesus and, regardless of what we are facing, that satisfaction is anchored securely in that which reaches our very core and is complete and fulfilling. It can not be shaken.

 Losing sight of Christ and forgetting His glory and power is one reason we become anemic in satisfaction. We let other things slip in and become prominent in our lives. 

 There is one sure place that we can grasp firmly to satisfaction. In the midst of the savagery and harshness and sin-stained world, there is a binding secure hold that rights all things. Isaiah 11 is a good reminder, particularly verse 9:
"They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea."

 Before that it talks of how the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard will lie down with the goat and children can play near the cobra. How does it happen? Where does this peace and change come from? 

 It is derived and born from the same place as a Christian's satisfaction - "full of the knowledge of the Lord." 

 When I am shaky and my satisfaction feels weak, I need only to return to the Word and fill myself with the knowing of Jesus. 

 Satisfaction complete.