Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 30 - The Choice is Ours

"'But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve...But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.'”
Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

(If you read my other blog, you might recognize some of the material mentioned today. I'm posting this a little early... just in case Sandy knocks out the power)

"If I Chew on that I'll Choke!"

 This was the response given to me by my husband after I emptied my heart to him a few weeks ago. (Oh, I love his sense of humor!)  While, I know that his statement was only in hopes of bringing levity to a very intense conversation about the state of my heart.... there was also some truth nestled gently into the words he spoke.  Ever-so-slowly, God is peeling back layers and revealing more and more to me... changing me, transforming me... and it's completely wonderful. But, it’s also utterly horrifying.
On the day in question, after a morning trip to the gym... and listening to yet another convicting sermon from Matt Chandler, I plopped myself down on the bed and verbally vomited all over my husband.  (Sorry for the visual… but it wasn’t pretty.  The words and emotions just spewed out of me… uncontrollably. Poor guy never stood a chance.) As the tears flowed and the words came tumbling out, you could see the concern on his face... not for me... for him.  God has been leading us... ever so slowly... to this place where a decision has to be made: we either TRULY pick up the cross and follow Jesus or we keep deluding ourselves into believing that the “status-quo” is enough… realizing more and more that it isn’t… that it never was. 
It’s hard for me to pin-point where this all started, or even how I got to where I am today.  Little things here and there have been convicting me of all the temptations and strongholds of this world. We were recently reading a passage from the book Kisses from Katie, as part of our family devotional, and the words we read struck a resounding chord… one I "fear" will resonate in my heart forever (written in her journal upon her return back to the States after a year in Uganda):
"I keep forgetting to ask God first to heal me, to fill me, to guide me, to rejoice with me.  I have to set aside 'time to pray' in the morning and at night instead of being in constant communication with Him. In Uganda, because I was so physically 'poor,' I was completely dependent on God and spiritually as wealthy as ever. As I sit here writing, I am frustrated with my own stupidity, my human willingness to step back into dependence on stuff and these places I swore I detested." p. 122

So much of what Katie wrote is also imprinted on my heart... without ever having been to Uganda. Figuring out how to loosen the chains of this world, a tightening noose around our necks, has been a challenge... but not nearly as difficult as the choice we now face. God continues to encourage me.  He continues to reveal His power in my life.  He has restored a relationship that I feared would be forever crippled by my inability to surrender my heart completely to Him.  I have cried with my children and prayed with them that Jesus would bind their hearts from the pain they feel from living in this broken world.  I am constantly reminded that He alone has made a strong marriage stronger... that He has made a good life better.  When I look at these promises fulfilled, it makes walking away from the things of this world seem a little easier.  When I think about the moments of joy that I experience at the power of His hand... joy that I have never felt from the "comforts" of this world... it makes me want to drop everything and run to Jesus... to run away from the things of this world... and this is what my husband felt he might choke on.  I have given my time.  I have given my money. I have given my talents. But I haven’t given my heart… not completely.  I like the comforts of this world.  If I’m really honest, I have to admit that I like getting lost in some of Satan’s subtle distractions.  The thought of completely committing my life to Jesus terrifies me… because I know it will change me.  And I don’t like change… especially if it means losing my comforts.

But this is what Jesus has revealed to me over the past 30 days: We live in one of the richest societies in the world.  And while most of us would never consider ourselves wealthy… comparatively speaking, we are.  Jesus tells us that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven… which doesn’t exactly bode well for us.  Then throw on top of that the countless references to goats and hypocrites; whitewashed Pharisees and evildoers.  Warning after warning that not everyone who professes belief in Christ will be given eternal life with the Father... In light of all this, my own admission to my inability to completely submit my life…my heart… to Him… well, that doesn’t really bode well for me. 

If I’m honest, I must admit that up until this point, I wanted to follow Jesus on my own terms… but that isn’t really following Jesus, is it? I’ve wanted all the benefits of being a Christian, without any of the sacrifices.  I’ve wanted to take all the promises from Jesus without giving Him the one thing He asked for… my heart. 

As I sit here and write, I am grieved and ashamed of everything I have made my faith out to be... but, also incredibly thankful… thankful that He has shined a light onto my blackened heart.  That in His mercy, He has opened my eyes to what it means to truly love Him… to truly follow Him.  I am also reminded of the fact that I have a choice to make.       

Spend some time reflecting on the past 30 days.  What has God stirred in your heart? Have you truly made a choice to follow Jesus... or have you simply made a choice to go to church and live a moral life?  Jesus calls us to more than that. He calls us to follow Him.  The choice is ours... the most important one we will EVER make.  

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