Starting Is Difficult
When it comes to accomplishing our goals, starting may be the most difficult part of the journey. Past experiences and feedback keep me from growing and often the fear of failure keeps me from the possibility of succeeding at anything. My coworker, Kevin, told me once that he missed more auditions than he failed, because he was afraid of failing. I was like, darn, that’s me with writing. I have folders of blogs that are on a conveyor belt that isn’t conveying. The blog conveyor belt isn’t conveying because I put a stop on the order to over analyze everything. Believe me guys, I have the perfect blog posts just waiting to be introduced to the world. But blogs aren’t supposed to be perfect, their supposed to be useful by means of encouragement, inspiration, and information.
Foundations are never easy to build. Sometimes the hardship reveals a motivation issue and speaks less to the nature of the challenge. I will probably never build a house, but if I did, I wouldn’t picture the end product (the house is not what makes a house great) – I would picture the life inside the house that gives the end product purpose. (The colors of God’s handiwork as displayed in fellow human beings is what makes a house memorable and useful). I would picture the deep conversations, the moments of loved ones crying on another’s shoulder, and the possibility of friends cheering for UNC as they win another basketball championship. 🙂 (In slow motion. popcorn flying. fists pumping. mouths wide open. eyes slightly turned sideways.)
In the same way, I don’t feel called to write, I feel called to paint pictures with writing. The relationship between motivation and determination are a mystery to me. Doers that do because doing is right always seemed lost to me. Activity is not the goal, activity that bears witness to purpose is the goal. And for the most part, writers have to envision what they are going to write before they start writing… but often, as the writing happens, vision comes. And so, writers must not just dally in the mind, but exercise the mind by writing. I write this post because future writing, good writing depends on this first brick. A flood is coming fifty years from now, and I need to build an ark. So I start today.
Ultimate Reality Will Collide with Our Experiential Realities
The reality of antithetical spiritual dispositions is more concrete and on display in much of the world than it is in the United States of America. In America, anyone can claim to be a Christian, or thank God, or go to church and make people believe that they are born again, without ever really exchanging their life for the life of Jesus. That won’t be the case for long. We see glimmers of it now. We will see it more fully in the years to come. The reality is that antithetical spiritual dispositions are on display, we just aren’t conditioned to see the truth with clarity.
Claiming to be a Christian and not treasuring Christ above all is becoming, more obvious, less beneficial, and more costly in our culture. But it’s not the wannabes that slap the Christian label on after making a winning shot that I’m worried about. It’s the people who dine daily at the table of tv during the week, are satiated with good deeds on Saturday, and giddy over self-help sermons on Sunday that think that their lives are evidence of being Christian. When in reality, these people are so far from Jesus – and my heart goes out to them. (Hi American church culture). My worry is not standing upon a desire to make them right, only Jesus can do that. My worry is built on the fact that Jesus could show up in their living room any moment. The way to prepare for Jesus is to be with Jesus in the present. The way to guarantee unity with Him forever is to be led by the Holy Spirit into His presence now. He will come like a thief in the night. He will come and 5 maidens will have enough oil, and 5 maidens will not. Those that know Him now will know Him then. What I mean by that is, we are building the reality of our encounter with Jesus right now. Those that know Him line up the resources of their focus, affections, and strength to treasure Him now. The Holy Spirit is drawing the called in an effectual way. Our assumptions and reality are separated by an eternal gap. And that gap can close in an instance.
We largely misunderstand grace. We often imagine that the usefulness of God’s grace is that it predominantly covers our decisions, no matter how worldly they are. We suppose that because we understand the (relationship > religion) equation then we can be functionally worldly and not pursue Jesus at all. But the nature of God’s grace supplies power for seeing Jesus, loving Jesus, and becoming like Jesus. The nature of grace is that it provides a way for us to become like the grace Giver. The most beautiful byproduct of God’s grace is not that sin is covered, but that sinners are changed. He doesn’t just cover the negative, He thrusts us into the positive. The grace that God is giving is being spent on stuff that God can “get behind”, namely, loving Jesus.
The contrast between American Christianity and “Jesus treasurers” is becoming so clear. Love for Jesus isn’t a slice of the pie, it is the pie. Our lives are meant for Him. The rain is coming, and the ark is Jesus. The rain could begin tonight and the door to the ark could close, so hide in Jesus.
His Banner Over Me Is Love (This is why I chose the picture above)
“He brought me to His banqueting house, and His banner over me is love.” Song of Solomon 2:4
I loved singing the song as a kid. He brought me to His banqueting table – His banner over me is love. I found myself singing this at the beginning of the new year and it stuck. It rises up in my soul with frequency and I often end up singing it for at least 10 minutes. It stuck to my heart. It made me rejoice in who my God is. Notice that this verse is all about the character of God. It’s all about Him.
1. He brought me (who). He initiated. He decided that it would be best that I come with Him and experience His love. I didn’t know that I needed this love. But He did.
2. He brought to His Banqueting House (where). He didn’t just bring me somewhere where we could watch netflix. God does not have a cheap, unsustainable, tainted kind of love. He has a giving, prepared, wholesome, feast worthy, forethought, rejoicing, gathering, family kind of love. He brought you to His place. In His place, malnourished people become strengthened, isolated people are immersed into a gathering of joyous feast eaters, and the people that are searching to be satisfied come to Him and are filled.
3. His love (what) hangs over His feast. The love of God is not encountered outside the bounds of where God brings you. You wanna experience the love of God? Feast at the table of God. The banner will always hang over the banqueting table. You say, I haven’t experienced the love of God. And to you I would say, you haven’t been to His table and sat under His love yet. Jesus, I pray that you would take the hand of my friend and lead them to where your love hangs over them, in the place of feasting with you. Take His hand, sit at His table, you will experience His love.
His banner over. me. is. love.
For the #joysetbeforeme,