Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Not a Fan: looking back

We finished up our church-wide study of Kyle Idleman's book, Not a Fan, tonight... I just wanted to put some words together on what I am taking away from the book: 1) What are the times in your life that you can distinctly remember Jesus calling you to follow Him? Did He ask you to give something up? What sacrifices have you made to follow Christ? If you re-walk your life up til now, what mile markers are along the way that you cling to as moments that Jesus really grabbed hold of you? I keep looking, and finding instances in my life in which I would say I was close to God. I remember Him asking me to let go of a relationship (an engagement actually) so that I could follow... I remember Him asking me to give up my pride, countless times, to better follow... I remember Him asking me to give up my career ambition... and most recently, I remember Him asking me to give up some financial comfort and personal comfort. I struggled in different ways which each of these sacrifices, but looking back, the times I willingly and joyfully was able to say "Yes Lord" have been directly correlated to times of great contentment and growth in my life. They led to closer relationship with God, better understanding of the man I am to strive to be, a better comfort with who I am, following Jesus led to my wonderful wife and our 2 gorgeous kids (instead of stuck in a residency, or graduate program), and my hope is that following in this latest way will lead to a greater opportunity to serve. 2) Salvation is not a one time choice, it is an active pursuit of a growing relationship. I thought, for a long time, that having said a prayer was good. That those words established my relationship with Christ, that I was no longer a sinner. What I have come to better understand is that salvation takes time. Yes, the moment you make a choice to turn to Christ and place Him the priority of your life, your salvation is sealed... but it is a start to a journey. I have learned that there are some sins that I have to renew my commitment against daily. I have learned that we do not come to God, trying to pretend that we are clean, we come saying, "God, I know I'm filthy... I want You to clean me... I want you to reveal in me the depth of my sin, let me know what they are... and work in me that I might turn from them and to you." In this way, we see that we truly can come to God as we are, without fanfare or facade. We don't even have to know what all of our sins are, we just have to be willing to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, and allow God to shine His light on our darkness. We are called to recognize when God does convict us of our sin, that we will honestly and truly deal with it... recognize it as sin, and desire to turn away from it. We also see through this why, as Paul says, we are saved by grace, not of our works so that none may boast. We are all on the same journey, simply at different points along that journey. 3) I must, every day, look in the mirror, commit to emptying myself of all of me and allow that space to be filled by the Holy Spirit. I must allow myself to be aligned to God's will, and be willing, no matter the call, to act. God does not require perfection in this, but authenticity. I must accept that I will fail, but still strive to never do so. I must accept that I have to live in God's grace in order to have true joy or meaning. 4) I hope that anyone who reads this would allow themselves some time to honestly, openly, and intentionally reach out to God. I hope that you will remain open, and give the thought that He might have something to offer to you, or that He even might truly exist (in a very real and personal way), a fair chance. When we walk to God, he runs to us... when we seek Him, He allows us to find Him.

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