If Only

Psalm 91:14-16 (the message)
“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
     “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
     if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
     I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
     give you a long drink of salvation!”

Lately the flow in my writing, to a degree, has been about obedience.  I have thought of how if you read scripture and writings about living for God with your whole life, of doing things God’s way, but don’t have any idea how to do that it could be frustrating!  I think, from my own experience, what can happen is you just see people who are walking with God as “special.”  They just have a little something extra that you don’t.  They have some kind of “good heart” that you don’t.  God has chosen them, extra special!, because they had something to offer that you didn’t.  For a long time in my life I had certain people on a “spiritual pedestal.”  I attributed the power at work in the life of my previous pastor or my own mother to a unique and unattainable connection they have with God.  I certainly didn’t think I could have what they had! 

Now, as I think back over it I believe, at least for me, there were two things happening.  The first being that I really had not come to grasp the grace and love of God.  I knew about mercy…I had thrown myself at His mercy over some of the choices I had made.  But I still thought knowing God so intimately was related to what I could offer or earn…I was still striving to please God (at times) without realizing I must learn to live in God’s grace before true yielding and an obedient heart could grow in my life.  Why?  What is the difference?  Trying in your own efforts to earn God’s love results in striving, or trying too hard, and it will wear you out…because you will fail.  We all fail at times.  You are going to “mess it up” sometimes. However, learning about true grace…what it means…what it looks like in your life…will open your heart wide to God’s love and leading.  Once you begin to experience true grace you will respond to God in obedience…because you’ll grow to love Him like never before.  See, if you are trying to be “good” or trying to live the Christian life I will bet you are pretty frustrated with it, pretending to a degree or perhaps have just given up altogether.  Here is the deal:  you can’t do it.  It’s not academic.  A mental agreement with God’s existence or that Jesus is savior will never produce change in your life.  Never.  It could produce some religious pride or maybe give you some moral boundaries but it would not heal your body, your mind, your emotions.  The kind of Christian you come across that lives in power and with passion and purpose is not merely mentally acknowledging Christ…that person has thrown their whole lot in with Him.  He has made the trip from their head into their heart…

The second thing that I believe was happening as I admired the “spiritual giants” in my life was that to a degree I let it be my excuse.  In the moments God may have been tugging on my heart…inviting me to know Him…to come in deeper into His presence…to accept more of Him into my life…I let the wind blow by with the supposition that knowing Jesus so well, having Him lead you in everything, was only meant for “them”.  Even if deep, deep down I knew it wasn’t true.  God doesn’t play favorites, but perhaps I wanted to think He did so I could pretend I didn’t have to make some choices of my own.  Do you get what I’m saying?  I wanted to go on thinking, on some level, that my pastor or my mom just had a unique relationship with God.  Actually, that was true but what I wanted to hold onto was the thought that I couldn’t have it.  I was too “regular.”  But see, sometimes holding on to that kind of thinking becomes our excuse not to have our own unique and personal relationship with Jesus.  Because knowing Him is a choice. 

That is what I sensed in my heart this morning as I was praying.  Perhaps you have been reading my blog and you read the posts about obedient living and yielding to God…about letting Him lead…but you feel stuck.  I mean a part of you wants to live that way but you feel like you have the weight of your life pressing down and you don’t even know where to start, then this is for you: 

You may not can wake up tomorrow and have an instant “redo” with your life.  There may be many things in your life that you can’t choose differently about but that is not where you need to start, anyway.  I sensed in my heart this morning the Lord saying, ‘even when they don’t feel they have any choices they can always choose Me.’  The only choice you need to make today is Jesus.  As I described above, knowing Him in such a way it changes your life does not happen through your efforts.  It doesn’t matter what you have done or what’s going on now. Stop focusing on that and start focusing on Jesus.  And I don’t mean focus on what you need to do to change to please Him…I’m telling you that is religion.  Religion will always tell you what you need to do to be acceptable to God.  Jesus will always show you what He did on the cross that makes you acceptable.  Then through His love, grace and power you will change and as you change it affects every dynamic in your life.  Yes, God wants us to yield to Him and live for Him, but He already knows we can’t do it on our own.  He’s not asking us to do it!  God is asking you to let Him do it through you.  Believe He wants to rescue you. When you think about Jesus being crucified I want you to hear a question…”Will you let me be enough?”  Will you?  Will you believe and accept that Jesus is the only choice you need to make today.  No matter what else is out of your control…this is the one choice you can make.  And you are the only one who can make it. 

God is the one with the power to change your heart and life…to do all the things for you He promises in the scripture above.  If only.  “If you’ll only get to know and trust me.”  That is the only choice you need to make right now.  Don’t give up on God.  Don’t give up on the life He promises you.  Don’t believe the lie that healed marriages and renewed purpose and dreams are only for certain people.  And don’t let “other people” be your excuse…don’t give yourself permission to drift along the current in our culture of emptiness, hopelessness and instant gratification and not make the one choice that opens up the Heavens because it seems easier to believe you can’t have what someone else has with God.  He will give you “the best of care” if only you’ll get to know and trust Him.  What comes to mind/heart as you read this?  A cry for forgiveness?  A prayer?  A song?  A desire to read your Bible?  However Jesus speaks to you…choose Him.

You won’t be disappointed.  Can I tell you there is nothing like knowing him?  There is nothing like sensing the nearness of the Creator as you look up at a gorgeous sunset.  Once your heart begins to grasp that He paints the sky to speak to our hearts.  To say, I love you.  Once your heart calms enough to absorb the small moments with your children…the way you love them and want to bless them…a reflection of God’s love for us.  Once the wounds and scars in your soul begin to heal and you can breathe again…you can be with others and not be in fear of their opinions.  Once the noise in your mind from the most painful experiences of your life gets drowned out by the song He puts in your heart…Once all of your insecurity and weakness gets swallowed up in the understanding that God is more than able to work in and through you regardless of your shortcomings…Once life leaves the land of boring and predictable grasps at happiness and crosses over into the adventure of daily following the lead of the Savior of the World…He’s uncontainable.  He’ll fill you up and spill right out into the hearts and lives around you…it’s what He does.

If Only…

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