WHEN I WAS IN GRADE SCHOOL, I remember one of my fellow students asked me if I had gotten straight A’s on my report card again. When I answered that I had, she replied, “Wow. You’re so lucky.” I remember that I found her response bizarre. I distinctly remember thinking: “How are grades related to luck? Do they pull out names out of a hat and raffle off the A’s?” I couldn’t understand my peer’s failure to associate good grades with hard work, or dedication, or even the distant possibility of the influence of my winning smile (I said “distant,” okay?).
Through the years, this distinct ideology that you get what you put in shaped much of my life. It gave me confidence. I felt that I had uncovered the formula for success. I didn’t even feel like I had to work particularly hard, as long as what I put in was good quality. And no matter the task, I always felt like I was a valuable asset to any team.
For much of my life, I applied a similar concept to my spiritual life. I tried to be a “good” person… I appeared patient, humble, hard-working, generous. I tried to be open-minded, and took to heart that believing that there was only one right way of doing things was, at the very least, the apotheoses of tyranny, and, surely, much too narrow-minded to describe an all-powerful God. I tried to support causes that did “good” to the world. I embraced all the ideologies that “evidently” promoted the long-sought-after ideals of equality, social justice, empowerment, and the like. I rode the wave of good feelings about myself and how I was contributing to making this world a better place…. Surely, I would get back what I was putting in.
I met Him. I met HIM! The One.
And you know what He told me?
He said: “There is nothing you do, contribute, or practice that will save you.” Because, you see, I needed to be saved. Only I didn’t think about it–it was stashed away into a dusty little corner of my heart and mind…. but I KNEW. It’s just like when you have a bunch of papers to sort and you just can’t be bothered for now. So you stash them in a box and put it in the attic. Out of sight, out of mind. (I KNOW I’m not the only one who does this!) So, I didn’t think about it… what for? It’s too confusing anyway. Who’s to say what God wants? Isn’t the Bible full of things people can’t agree on anyway? I’m busy… I’m living my life… I like it just fine…. Hit me up when I’m 50 or something… we’ll see if it works out then…
So, when I met Him, and He told me this… I knew: it was all or nothing. I either submitted my life to the Lord Jesus Christ, or… well… there was no alternative because that is all I wanted to do when I met Him. So, I asked Him to be my Lord, so I could be His servant. I asked Him to help me deny myself… so that He could live in me. And, soon, He taught me what surrender means, not only in terms of “giving up,” but legally:
a. The delivery of a prisoner, fugitive from justice, or other principal in a suit into legal custody.
b. The act of surrendering or of being surrendered to bail.
c. Restoration of an estate.
a. I was a prisoner to sin, now delivered! And now, I was under the custody of the Creator of the universe… only He loves me and did the impossible so that I could be with Him forever.
b. The bail? Paid by the blood of Jesus.
c. I am now restored as a child of THE King!
So, you see… there was NOTHING I could have done for myself to escape the punishment for sin. It wouldn’t matter if I got a doctorate in theology. It wouldn’t matter if I got up at 5am to pray every day. It wouldn’t matter if I served a church piously. It wouldn’t matter if I memorized the whole Bible. Nothing we do will ever make us good people. Only God is good. We are inherently sinful. Only God is Holy. BUT, when we accept the power of Jesus Christ in our lives by the grace of the Holy Spirit….!!! The veil is lifted from our eyes! And life is so simple… because it comes down to this for any decision: “Does this please God?” It is not the easy way, but the easy way leads to destruction. But the more our Heavenly Father fills us with His Holy Spirit as He works in our hearts…. the more natural it becomes to be sensitive to His voice to do His will… and the more natural it becomes to ask God to help us deny ourselves so we can walk righteously before Him… it’s all with the help of God. Anything we attempt on our own… trust me… we will FAIL.
Now I know that I AM, not only “lucky”, but privileged. It’s not my hard work, nor my dedication. It’s definitely not my winning smile. But you know something? We are ALL very, extremely lucky to have such an amazingly loving Creator. All power is His. All glory is His. Yet, He WILL forgive your sin if you repent and turn away from it. He WILL help you to overcome the lies of this world if you ask Him. And, believe me, just about everything in this world is a lie. And even if some of it has some truth, it’s only there to get you to buy into the lie.
Don’t waste any more time if you don’t have a relationship with the LORD. Church won’t save you. Say that with me again: Church won’t save you. Are you seeking out the will of the LORD, or are you doing your own thing and TELLING God to bless your plans? Are you denying yourself like Jesus said, or are you creating an imaginary god to your image and preferences? You will only know the answers when He reveals them to you as you seek Him out for real.
God doesn’t need anyone to “peddle” Him. If you are reading this… God is giving you the CHOICE and the opportunity right now. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15) Nobody is free. You are a servant of the LORD or of the devil, even if you don’t know it. A life without serving God is useless to you because there’s no LIFE in it. Don’t keep wasting your life away.
Ask God to forgive you for your sins…. ask Him to help you to resist sin from now on…. if you are “not sure about Jesus”, ask “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” to reveal Himself to you and to show you His will. God is a good God, and He will show you He is worthy of all praise and adoration. And He will show you who Jesus really is.