While painting and cleaning today, I listened to several Ravi Zacharias sermons/talks (if you haven't listened to him, please do yourself a favor and do). Ravi tells many of the same stories over and over, but he does so because they are profound tales.
He mentioned one as I was listening today and have always liked, but today it hit me at a deeper level. He tells the story of his father-in-law as he was dying...
"I mentioned that my father-in-law did something utterly unforgettable in the final days of his life. As strength was leaving his body and he could no longer communicate with loved ones, he suddenly opened his eyes and said twice, quietly and clearly, “Amazing! It’s just amazing!” A few hours later, he again stirred, reached out his thin arms to his wife of sixty-two years, and said, “I love you!” Then he let his head drop back on his pillow. Those were his last words. Within twenty-four hours he was gone. That was the end."
How would it change the way you live today if you knew, I mean really knew, that it was all true. If you could catch a glimpse today of the glory of heaven, of the glory of the Lord as you might in your passing, if you could see it with your own eyes... how would this affect your life today as you live it?
I think we often fall into a patter of hedging our bets. We, especially as men I think, can fall into living a double life. We pursue the things of God as well as those things we know are likely very much a waste. If you could catch a glimpse of God's glory as a few men like Moses and Isaiah have, would that be enough? Would that be enough to convince you of your place in this world? I am constantly challenged about my half-belief. I sometimes find myself living as though either might be true: either the Kingdom of God is of the utmost importance and reality, or pursuing my own gratifications and self-fulfilling dreams are paramount. Many of us say, "I will try to do both; God will understand."
I have also been listening to John MacArthur. He has shared in these last few years about his discovery of our identity as "slaves" of Christ. It seems that in almost every case when our Bibles call us "servants" the actual word and meaning is "slave." What rights do slaves have? None. What rights do slaves have to pursue their own ends? None. Now, God is no slave-master as we think of it. But the very definition of a slave, one could say, is one who is owned. Scripture tells us that we have been bought with a price. We have been purchased, redeemed and made to belong to a Lord. Do I tell my Lord what I wish for him to grant me or do I seek, more than anything else, his will and desire for me?
How would it change your perspective to read that famous verse, "Well done, good and faithful slave." Does that word shatter you or humble you? I assume many of us have imagined that moment when God looks at you and you stand there in that moment of silence... what will he say? Will he say, "well done," or something else? If God has set me upon this planet to pursue my dreams and desires then perhaps anything I do will warrant a "well done." But, if God has gifted me in a certain way, called me to a specific task, granted me a purpose in his family than that changes the way that I think about that moment.
What if we could fully comprehend the enormity of eternity in comparison to this short life? What if we could truly understand the incredibly grand and magnificent nature of God and his purpose for our lives, the scope of his reality as a person, the detail and holiness of his will? When I am caught up in these thoughts, the importance of my own ends appear to me to be dirt pies to his feast.
If God is truly the Creator, if Jesus is truly his Son, and if this Son has truly redeemed us to himself... our lives are truly not our own. I am challenged more and more to understand the radical nature of the gospel and the "all" that Christ asks of us. It has often come to me in the picture of a man with two choices: invest in a stock that grows ten-fold every year, or invest in a stock that time and time again rises and falls. Only a fool would diversify this portfolio. I am challenged to invest everything, every last penny into the Kingdom of God. Not to is a display of an inward belief that this stock may not continue as shown, as promised.
What would the church look like, what would the world see in Christians, if we all lived with the surety of God's realness as though we had literally visited heaven and come back again. When you read, “Amazing! It’s just amazing!,” were you surprised and tickled or did you think, "I can't wait!"? Does the thought of meeting the Lord cause in you fear and doubt or a sense of anticipation? I really believe that the feeling that comes to us with this question is revealing. I'm not talking about whether you or I am really saved or not. It's not a matter of in or out, but a question that forces each of us to examine our belief.
Let us seek to know our God intimately and to actually live in such a way that undeniably represents this belief. Let us pursue the adventure of taking Jesus at his word. Let's quit hedging our bets. Will I seek the company of the elite or the down-trodden? Will I trust God with my money? Will I confess my sin? Extreme? Yes. I am challenged to choose this day whom I will serve.
Written: April 2, 2011
Written: April 2, 2011