Not here, but there

The past few weeks have been an important Godstop, one of those moments that you have to record because it’s evidence of God working in your life. But I don’t know if I have the words. It’s like suddenly, somebody flipped a switch and I can see more clearly now. And I didn’t realize how lost I was until the lights came on.

It’s been the result of the perfect spiritual transformation trifecta: reading the book Crazy Love, the study of John in BSF, and a study on abiding in Christ with my church small group. (Our study leader is writing an amazing study as we go through it on the city of man versus the city of God to get to the heart of how we should live as Christians in a secular world. We’ve been joking about turning it into a book, and I for one will be very disappointed if he doesn’t.)

I’ll confess, I have been tired. I have been working really hard to “do the right thing,” to do what “God wants me to do,” and even “be different” so that I could be a witness to others. But in my effort to appear to be the perfect Christian, I was being exactly what I was trying to pretend I wasn’t: a hypocrite. And I was getting really frustrated because whatever I would “do” just that, I would fail. It wasn’t what I was doing but how or why, but it was for all the wrong reasons. I was so focused on the here and now, so full of myself that I had no desire or love in my heart for God. Daily Bible reading was a chore, a big bore (unless someone else was doing all the work for me), and my prayers were dry and lifeless.

Crazy Love hit it right on the nose for me:

Lukewarm living and claiming Christ’s name simultaneously is utterly disgusting to God. But the solution isn’t to try harder, fail and then make bigger promises only to fail again. It does no good to muster up more love for God, to will yourself to love Him more. When loving Him becomes obligation, one of many things we have to do, we end up focusing even more on ourselves. No wonder so few people want to hear from us about what we ourselves feel is a boring, guilt-ridden chore!

I went to God and confessed that I was trying to do everything on my own because I was living for me, admitted that I didn’t want to spend time with Him, and expressed my desire to let Him to change me. I can’t remember now what I said exactly because it didn’t seem that important at the time. Could it really be that simple? But now, I have a new perspective. A realization that I am not a citizen of this world. Nothing here matters. For the first time in a long time, I desire to do not just what pleases God but to do what he has called me to do, to serve Him by doing His will … not for myself but to honor and glorify Him.

One example: I’ve tried in the past, albeit halfheartedly, to witness to my co-workers or my neighbors. I’ve desired to set myself apart, as a Christian, and realized all I had done is physically set myself apart. I haven’t made any effort to foster relationships with non-Christians. I’ve had fleeting thoughts of hosting a Bible study and inviting neighbors or putting signs in my yard or being outrageous for God with grand gestures. But I knew I was never going to do any of that!

I realize now it’s not about that, but simply loving others. That is what Jesus calls us to do. And I knew that before but I was trying to do it on my own and how do you make yourself love someone that you don’t? You can’t. Not on your own. But Jesus has given me the desire to open my home and my life to others. Being willing to drop anything to make a meal for someone who has had surgery or being able to pick up someone’s daughter when she’s stranded at WalMart because her car won’t start. No matter how inconvenient it may be … without grumbling. So, I invited the women in my neighborhood for a girls night in at my house. Opening my doors. It’s not the end all be all. But it’s the first step to being where I need to be. God can’t use me if I am not available and in connection with those around me.

CS Lewis wrote: “Throughout history, Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

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