Monday, January 14, 2013

To Live Or To Exist

Ryan Van Sickle originally shared the above graphic, online.  The quote resonated with me.  It took me back to a number of incidents long past.  Not because of guilt or there was anything necessarily outstanding about some of them.  But they highlighted how easily we can fall into the trap of following the ways of the world and ending up doing no more than existing.

I have to admit that there was a large chunk of my earlier life when I wasn’t walking with God.  Sometimes, it wasn’t obvious.  Other times, it was clearly evident.  But that whole period was defined by one fact.  There was no excitement in my life.  Not from big events in my life, not from little things like a beautiful flower.  And the reason could be summed up by my pastor’s main verse in our Sunday morning service.

Ecclesiastes 8:17 (KJV)  Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.
During that time in my life, I was self absorbed and not seeking God.  I certainly couldn’t relate things like the beauty of a sunrise to anything I could do.  And I was certainly aware I, as a human, had huge limitations.  It couldn’t be credited to me and, without recognizing God’s hand in it, it was pretty but not much more.  I wasn’t seeing much of the inherent beauty or the hand that created it.  The beginning part of verse 17 comes out of the preceding verse.
Ecclesiastes 8:16 (KJV)  When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:)
That wisdom is a recognition that there is a God and that He’s actively functioning in creation and subsequent events.  When I’m aware of that and it becomes the foundation of my mindset, then even snowstorms, tornadoes, and rain have a special beauty for my enjoyment.  Let’s stretch the example a bit.  How about if we imagine that animals have some level of intelligence and that there might be life on other worlds?  Then that Godly intervention into time has an even greater impact and a greater possibility of appreciation.
Romans 8:17-21 (KJV)  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.  For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Any curse is counterbalanced by blessing, to the point of being weighted in favor of blessing.  And the relationship with God frees the senses dulled by self absorption.  Think of a person suffering from cataracts.  They look at a rose and see a colored blur.  But give that person an operation to remove the cataracts, plus the proper glasses, and what happens?  Suddenly they see all the glorious details of each rose petal and how they fit together to create the gorgeous beauty of the rose.  That’s really a parallel to our spiritual life.

When we are our own focus and seeking things to stimulate our senses, that’s like the person with the cataracts.  What we have internally, spiritually doesn’t have the power to satisfy us.  We can’t fill a God sized void in our lives.  But a real relationship with God can.  Instead of trying anything and everything to satisfy our flesh, God removes the fuzzy spiritual sight.  Self and sin blind us to the full beauty of being in unity with Him.  Salvation, grace, mercy, and forgiveness surgically do a painless removal of our fuzzy spiritual sight.  Instead of being disappointed by the corrupted beauty of things that will die off, anyway, we get to be blown away by the underlying eternal glory that God intended us to see.

How do we get to that point?  Those of you who read this blog know my favorite verse.  I’ll repeat it because it says it all.

Matthew 6:33 (KJV)  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Aim for God.  Get that relationship with Jesus Christ.  God never intended us to just exist.  He wants us to live to the fullest.  Not in thrill seeking, but in getting the most out of a sunset, the joy in being surrounded by His creation.  And, especially, in getting to know Him more and more, on a daily basis.  How do you do that?
Talk to God.  Tell Him that you accept what Jesus did on the Cross to substitute for you and your sins.  That conversation with God is as much prayer as anything else.  But it’s not the prayer that makes the difference.  It’s what’s going on in your heart.  If you’ve had that relationship explained to you by someone, most likely they’ve asked you to say a prayer.  They’re looking for an external sign of what’s going on internally.  But only you know how real that is or whether you’re making a hollow profession.
Having done life the wrong way for too many years, I can tell you the difference is huge!  The change won’t necessarily come immediately, and you may fight some of it like you’re being dragged, kicking and biting and scratching all the way.  Some of the old stuff may seem too good to let go of easily.  Or you may jump in with both feet and blossom almost immediately.  But, as that spiritual vision improves, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make that decision sooner.  We’re each different, but also each loved just as much anyone else.  God loves you just as much as Billy Graham.  And that person still existing in the old lifestyle?  He loves them just as much as you.
God will never force us into anything.  We have a choice.  And I’m urging you to make the right choice.  You don’t have to just exist, anymore.  God’s giving you the option to really live.  If you’ve made that decision, let us know at  We’d like to keep in touch and let you know more about the decision you’ve just made and how you can continue to grow in the blessings God wants to give you.

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