Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Today is a great day -- a gift from the Lord. Today, Melissa and Ryan will take their new babies home from the hospital. Today is Prime Time Tuesday at Woodward Park. Today is Game 3 of the World Series. And today, I will go over to San Francisco to spend some time in prayer with John Hollett on the eve of his surgery tomorrow.

I like John. He coaches high schoool baseball and that thread draws the two of us together. As John prepares for his brain surgery tomorrow, I hope you will spend some time today in prayer before the Lord for John.


Because I'm in a rush to leave this morning, I share with you some insight from John Alan Turner. Here's hoping you enjoy what he shares, but even more, here's hoping you act on what he shares.

Most of the folks who read this blog on a consistent basis are Christians. As Christians we’re called to trust Jesus not only with our eternity but with our here and now as well. For lots of us, myself included, that last bit is the hardest part. I’m fine trusting Jesus to take care of me after I die, but all too often I want to handle things from now until then.

Jesus comes into our world and announces the availability of a whole new way of living. The life we’ve always dreamed of but never thought possible before is now available for absolutely every one of us. A life of freedom and security, a life of no regret, no shame, no anxiety, a life of rest and productivity in the things that matter most — that life is freely available to each and every one of us.

The question is: how badly do you want it?

Jesus says this invitation to a new kind of life is kind of like a guy who was walking through a field and found a treasure chest buried in it. The treasure chest has more gold, silver and jewels than he had ever seen before. So, he does the shrewd thing. He goes and sells everything he has, takes all that money and buys the field. He knows that whatever he has to give up in order to attain this treasure, it will be well worth it. He’ll get back anything he sacrifices and then some.

In other words, Jesus says that if you really understood what life in God’s kingdom looks like, you’d be willing to make any sacrifice necessary to get it. Whatever is standing in your way will be jettisoned without a second thought because this gift is that valuable.

And I think I’m coming to understand what he means. I think about all the things God has secured for me and given me access to. He has given me a fantastic family. I didn’t earn that. It’s a gift. Three beautiful and healthy daughters. An intelligent and beautiful wife. A nice home. Meaningful work. Gifts. He has given me a mind that works and a body that works most of the time (or is it the other way around?). He’s given me spiritual gifts, and he allows me to use them and partner with him in his work in this world. More gifts. He put me in a group of people who love and accept me. And, by giving me his Spirit, his Word and his Church, he enables me to grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, humility and generosity. If all of that’s still not enough, he says that after my life here on this earth is over, I get to be with him forever in a place of unending joy and purpose and fulfillment and contentment.

Gift upon gift upon gift.

That’s what I have access to. But there are often things that stand between me and experiencing the joy that comes with living life in God’s kingdom. Sometimes it’s anger. My anger is a force, and I use it to my advantage. I use it to bully others into getting my way, but my anger doesn’t achieve the righteousness of God. It gets in the way of me experiencing the life I really want.

Sometimes it’s my pride. By thinking that I must be the most important person in the room — regardless of what room I’m in — I shut myself off from the availability of living this radically liberated and secure life that God has for me.

Sometimes it’s greed. Because my perspective doesn’t always match up with God’s perspective, I sometimes think that the way up is up. Jesus says that’s backwards. The way up is down. The way to really receive is to give. The way we really find security is not through accumulation but through generosity. My greed makes me cling to the things this world finds valuable, but with my fists tightly clutching the wealth of this world, I cannot take hold of the things that matter most.

But there is an enemy that makes all the others pale in comparison. There is something that hinders me more than all others combined. It sounds so simple, so innocuous, so harmless, and yet it keeps me from really following Jesus the way I know I should.

As far as I’m concerned (and I do not believe I am alone in this), the one thing that keeps me from living the life I’ve always wanted, the life God has prepared for me, is this: I’m too busy.

One day we will all enter eternity and have a conversation with God. He’s likely to ask, “Why didn’t you do more to grow and become more like Jesus? Why didn’t you devote yourself to serving others and spreading the message? Why didn’t you spend more of your life growing in intimacy with me?”

I cannot imagine telling God, “Yeah, I was going to get around to doing all that stuff, but, you see, I was just so busy.”