Monday, December 1, 2008

Um...Ouch. Time to Get Out of the Boat

I had a little thought/conversation/realization the other day, and it kinda hurt. And since you guys are getting used to receiving my confessions, well...here goes.

I often find myself walking around thinking about what I'm going to teach "my kids" (middle school class on Sunday) or "my girls" (the high schoolers I meet with throughout the week). This (blessedly-long!) weekend was no exception. I found myself pondering the lessons I wanted to communicate during this Advent Season. And when I got to "my girls," I heard myself 'say' (in my head), "I want them to know that Jesus is worth pursuing."

And then, a still, quiet Voice replied, "So, what about you?"

Uh...um... Have you ever stumbled over your words in your head?! And as I stumbled over this questions, a painful realization swept over me: It would be a serious stretch to say that I pursue Jesus regularly.

I know Jesus (thank You!!). I walk with Him. I obey Him (mostly). I pray. I read and study His Word. I teach His Word. I push/pull/encourage/exhort others to relationship with Him and application of His Word. But do I pursue Him?

There have been times I have. Dedicated periods of listening, seeking...and by His grace, hearing. There have been times where He was all I could and did cling to. But typically? Pursue would not be the right adjective for my life.

And I was saddened.

And challenged. What if I did more than just walk with my God? What if I put my all into knowing Him? What if I ran after my God to hear His voice, to see His face, to feel His heart?

It was thirty-two years ago this fall that I came into the Kingdom of the Son He Loves. I've walked with my God a long time. But what if the verb 'walk' was changed into 'run after'? What would that look like? Wouldn't that amount of effort change...everything?

Recently, I've had this growing sense. It's kinda hard to put into words, but I'll try. I get the feeling that no matter how close I--or anyone--press into knowing God, no matter how well we know Him, we will be overwhelmed by His presence, His glory, the moment we pass through the veil. When we see clearly--except that God Himself give us new bodies and preserve our lives--I truly think the radiance of His glory would simply consume us whole. That's what He is like.

Think about it: The Perfect (having never sinned) creatures in His presence are shown in Scripture to cover their faces and their feet in the presence of His holiness (Isaiah 6). When the saved of all the ages declare the preeminence of the Father and the Lamb, the angels fall on their faces in worship (Revelation 7). How much more would we be overwhelmed by the glory of the Lord? (What I think is that I would like the shock to be as minimal as possible. *wink*) A God whose very radiance is so powerful, and yet who set it all aside to take on the form of a servant (human) and humbled Himself to death, even death on a cross? Surely that is a God worth pursuing.

The Holy Spirit has 'thrown down the gauntlet,' so to speak. Will I pursue Him?

I'm not wholly sure what that will look like, but I know it will look different from the sleepy Scripture readings I tend to do 3 minutes before I fall asleep. I know it will look different from the random and incomplete prayers I often send 'upward.' I know that pursuing God will require more of my time and energy. It will require less of my self-impositions into the process. It's likely it will require sacrifice.

I am a tiny bit scared. My life is kinda comfortable right now. I am wrapped secure in my relationship with God, in the forgiveness and direction He has offered me. Then I think back to C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, when Eustace asks Reepicheep about Aslan (representing Christ), "Is He safe?" "Safe?! No He's not safe. But He's good."

This doesn't feel safe. But it does feel right. And my God IS good.

So, since "Pursue God for the rest of my life" seems a bit too large of a chunk to bite off right away, here is what I am committing to:
1.) I will pursue God in some tangible way every day during this advent season (December 1 to 25).
2.) AND, I will share at least some of what that looks like here.

I just might be launching the journey of my life, and it might be a wild ride. But faith is the siren call, and the only answer I can give is to step out of the safety of my boat.

Here's to life on the sea,
-J

P.S. I don't know what God is working in your life right now, and this might not be the lesson/time for you, but I feel compelled to ask, "Any other takers? Will anyone join me on a 25-day odyssey?"

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
--Philippians 3:7-14, NIV

6 comments:

Beth said...

I'm in! I am so ready for this kind of focus on Him!

t said...

Already there, my friend. (Thay may sound arrogant if you haven't followed my life, but you know more than anyone so I'm hoping you get that statement - and the humility in which it's given).

One pure and holy passion ... to know and FOLLOW HARD after you....

t said...

PS - of course, I'm singing the song song and should have changed "you" to "Him."

suzann said...

hmmm... a scary thought in many ways, but worthwhile. I'll get out of the boat with you too!

Anonymous said...

I am a day behind (because our internet was down yesterday and the day before), but I am willing to try it. I was recently given a reading schedule of women in the life of Christ that is for a whole month. I am looking forward to reading it everyday. Thanks for the challenge.--Your Far Out Sister

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

Good stuff here J :)