Saturday, February 24, 2018

Soap-box Saturday

I was 6 years old the night I asked Jesus to come into my heart, forgive my sins, and be my savior.

I remember it. Vividly. I cried, so overcome with sorrow over all the things I had done wrong in my life, and so grateful that Jesus died to wash those things away.

I know I was only 6, but I understood. I knew what I was saying.

Or so I thought.

It's been 31 years since then, and I am still so grateful to my Jesus for saving me, for washing away my sins, for seeing me sniffling on my top bunk and writing my name in the Book of Life as I  prayed for forgiveness.

So many of us have that memory. That day in children's church, or at youth camp, or in our bed with our parents standing by, when we were moved, with perfect surrender, to accept the love and sacrifice of the Son of God. 

I will always remember my own sweet kids saying that prayer.


But.

If that one prayer that I prayed over 31 years ago were all that it took to be a follower of Christ...well, wouldn't that be something?

And how many people live their lives as if that were the case? I understood, as a girl, that the salvation prayer had certain things attached to it.

We go to church on Sunday.
We pray before meals.
We own a Bible, and at least know some of the stories in it.
We offer our money...sometimes.
We say "I'll be praying for you" in the right places.

And if that list were all it took to achieve a vibrant, intimate relationship with the God of all the world...the world would look a lot different, I'm convinced.

But that's laughable, obviously. No one becomes intimately acquainted with a person by meeting with them once a week, knowing stories about them, and talking about how they talk to them once in a while.


I've been on a regimen of "vocal rest" for at least a few hours every day this week. It's a pain when the kids ask me questions and have to wait while I type out my response. 

But you know what? My husband rarely needs me to type answers to his questions. He asks them while looking at my face, and either through reading the expressions I make, or just because he knows me, he will answer his own question with the response pinging around inside my head. It makes me giggle, thinking about it. We have whole conversations without me ever opening my mouth.

Because he KNOWS me.

And I guarantee that didn't happen from spending time together once a week, knowing stories about me, and talking TO me on occasion. 

The day we said "I do" 18 1/2 years ago was a wonderful day, but it wasn't even close to enough to last us our whole lives. It did not immediately give us the camaraderie and intimacy that a marriage should involve.

We worked hard at developing that. And, Lord willing, we will continue to work at growing closer still. 

Because you NEVER arrive at a place of knowing everything about a person. 

And if that's true of people...please take a moment and admit that it is impossible, even if we spend every moment of our lives trying, to know all there is to know about our God. 

It's laughable to ever think we can ARRIVE at an intimate relationship with the I AM, and then that's it. We can call it a day.

On my wedding day, I was "Mrs. Heath Martin" in name only. I had not arrived at the kind of marriage that allows me to say no words and still participate in conversation with the man who's name I 
bear.

How many of us are Christ-followers in name only?

Ouch. Take a minute and let that sink in.

On the day I asked Jesus into my heart, I was saved.
But that isn't all He wanted for me. It's not all He wants for you.

"I have come that they might have life AND life abundant."
 (John 10:10) 

Jesus came for life AND life.
Salvation AND Lordship.

What a sad thing it would be if we bore the name of the One who hung the moon and stars, parted the Red Sea, flattened Jericho, cured leprosy, raised the dead, conquered hell, tore the veil, and all the rest...and we never really got to KNOW HIM.

We would be missing out on abundant life.

Because salvation guaratnees us eternity with God after death.

LORDSHIP is about actively living in fellowship with Him NOW.

It's talking to Him, and listening, and spending time together, and being willing to make changes in your life to better accommodate the One who you are in relationship with.

Lordship is how we have conversations with Him on a daily basis.

Conversations that are NOT, I repeat, NOT one-sided. 

When was the last time you heard the Lord speak to you?
Have you ever?

Can I just take a second and stomp on all the toes and say something audacious?

If we aren't communicating, in conversation, with the One to whom we supposedly gave our hearts...we are not walking in fellowship with Him.

We are Christians in name only. We have life...but not life abundant.

And before you say "not everyone understands how to hear God speak..." let me go ahead and squash that.

Do you have a Bible?
Then you can hear Him speak.

 Open that thing up and read it.
And do it again the next day.
And the next.

THAT is how you arrive at a place of knowing Someone so intimately that when you say "Lord...I don't understand this..." you already know what He is going to say back to you, because you've been listening to Him speak through His Word.

When I say "This is really making me worried, Lord," His Word responds to me. "Don't worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow has enough worries of it's own." (Matthew 6:34)

THAT IS HIM SPEAKING. And if I only heard the Word read to me at church on Sunday...I mean, there's a chance that would've been the passage the pastor read that week...but its a slim chance. I know the response He is giving me because I spent time reading His Word for myself.

And that's only the beginning. Intimate fellowship, life abundant, is a path that keeps getting better and better, if we will get off our lazy butts and put the work in.

Stop making excuses. Stop saying you want a relationship with God, but without being willing to apply yourself to knowing Him.

And you have to do it more than once a week and before meals.

That would be insulting to me, if someone claimed they wanted to KNOW me, but only did the things required to achieve that knowledge occasionally, and half-heartedly.

I'm not saying we are insulting God. But we absolutely are selling our relationship with Him short, if all we do is check some boxes and add His name onto our own.

I don't want people to know my name. I want people to say "You know, that girl who loves Jesus so much that its all she can talk about," when describing me.

I want HIS NAME to be the one they know when they know me.

That's Lordship.
That's life abundant.
And you know what? 
It's not for the faint of heart. Or the lazy. Or the excuse-makers. Or the selfish. Or the half-hearted. Or the ones who only want fire-insurance. 

And also...it is. It's for all of those. 

It's for me, even when I want to sleep a little longer instead of getting up to fellowship with Him.

It's for you, even if you don't know where to start, and its been a long time since that salvation prayer.

It is for anyone who is willing to put in the work, understanding that it will require change, and commitment, and a lifetime of learning and seeking. If we know that there is always more to know about our Lord, and we WORK to know the next thing...then we will always be growing more intimate with Him. 

Life abundant.

Intimacy. Camaraderie. Fellowship. Conversation.

Lordship. 

It will take all the energy we can muster.
And it will absolutely be worth it.

What are you waiting for? Crack open that Bible. Get to know the One who's name you bear.

It will cost you everything 
And you will never regret it.