Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sometimes It's Just That Simple

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1 John 5:12 ESV

Each morning and evening, my daughter and I share a prayer time together. We always use a passage from the Bible to guide our prayers, and we practice this spiritual discipline together to with a few significant goals in mind:
  • To see our day, right from the start through to the finish, with God's mind directing our thoughts and our vision for the day;
  • To fill ourselves with compassion, goodness, grace, hope, joy, kindness, love, mercy, peace, and wisdom enough for sharing with others;
  • To call God's attention to and blessing over people we love;
  • And to cover one very special family, whom we love as our own flesh and blood, with strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow not because we are faithful in never missing a day of praying for them, but because we believe God is faithful to will and to do for them more than we ask or think.

I know it sounds like a lot to wring out of a prayer time with a teenager, but we have been praying together since she was just a little girl, and praying intensely like this for over 5 years. Standing by and feeling otherwise helpless and useless, while people you love suffer unspeakably painful blows to the soul—life attacks—has a way of intensifying the gravitational pull between your knees and the floor. 

When what seems initially like the least you can do for someone becomes essentially all you can do…well…most of us make one of two choices. We either pray wallowing in the reality of our own powerlessness, or we use every ounce of energy and faith we can summon to take hold of the One who is all powerful—the Lord, the giver of life. 

Though some of us hedge our bets and try to launch our prayers from some "middle" position on the faith continuum, pretty much any prayer that isn't anchored in the surety of God's omnipotence is adrift in unbelief...somehow, some way. Tonight, when we were praying this short, simple verse from 1 John 5, that fact really hit home. We either have Jesus and the very special fullness of life that is not available any other way…or we don't. It's just that simple.

What struck a deep chord within me tonight, particularly as we were praying for someone dear to us, is that sometimes the assaults of hardship, pain, and suffering upon our lives can unwittingly lead us to live in a state of spiritual deprivation or poverty. We can lose our grip on the power of Jesus living within us. 

Here's are some indicators that can signal our need to re-establish ourselves in the Son and the power of His living, active Word:
  • We are easily agitated.
  • We are bitter.
  • We choose avoidance, aggression, or cold shoulder strategies for solving problems with others.
  • We play Freud and psychoanalyze ourselves and others—often rationalizing our faults, and condemning the faults of others.
  • We maintain mostly surface level, superficial relationships.
  • We set up "traps" and "road blocks" to keep our real life outside of spiritual accountability.
  • We mask and pretend to be more "OK" than we really are.
  • We mistrust most people.
  • We assume the worst about others and their motives.
  • We don't really believe that tomorrow will be better, or that God's mercies are "new every morning" for us.
  • We feel robbed and/or cheated.
  • We make excuses for bad behavior.
  • We think everyone wants something from us.
  • We don't want to accept kindness or generosity from others because we don't want to owe them anything.
  • We break promises and vows.
  • We send out a lot of mixed messages.
  • We use busyness as an excuse for not dealing appropriately or effectively with people and/or problems.
  • We cite others' inability to understand, or our inability to change, as reasons why we "have to do it [my] own way."
  • We are easily offended.
  • We cut people off (in conversation, in relationships, in traffic, in our minds, in our hearts).
  • We lie to, or deceive ourselves and/or others, to avoid confrontation, conflict, and constructive patterns of solving problems.
  • We cite our feelings as sufficient reason(s) for wounding others.
  • We say we are sorry, but we don't change our behavior.
  • We say, "I know" but our actions suggest otherwise.
  • We accuse others with "crimes" we also commit ourselves.
The list could go on and on and on because of one simple fact, which is that sin—left unattended—leaves us inactive and lifeless. The list above shows us how we live when our tents are pitched outside the Word…outside the Son and His abundant life. When we truly have the Son…we are at peace with God, with ourselves, and with others. When we have the Son we have abundant life, so we don't feel threatened or thwarted by conflict or by human frailties. 

Having a life of spiritual abundance and sufficiency in Jesus is evidenced by how we live and love among others. How can we claim to have the Son, and have life, if so many of our habits and patterns reflect emptiness and death? 

What's interesting to me is that every one of the indicators I've listed above, and many others, has a contra indicator that can be found in the LIVING and ACTIVE Word of God, which is "sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12 ESV). In sum, and in short, if we have the Son, and we have life, then we also HAVE love—love from which we cannot be separated.

If we look honestly at ourselves and at the list above, can we really say that we have the Son, the abundant life He offers us, and love (for God and others) if our actions reflect emptiness and depravity instead of abundant life?  The book of Joshua says it this way, 

Joshua 24:15English Standard Version (ESV)

15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lordchoose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Sometimes…it's just that simple. 

No comments:

Post a Comment