Sunday, February 12, 2017

Why Do We Stay?

I had actually taken a screenshot of something else. When I clicked on what I thought was the png file I needed, I found the photo (above) of a page in my Bible. In the margin, beside the last part of John 6, I'd written these words:

When His teachings were hard and difficult to understand, 
many disciples withdrew and did not follow anymore.
How do I respond when the journey is hard?

Not everyone who stayed for the journey
would reach the destination...
Judas stayed to betray.

Sometimes, the life of a disciple of Christ is tough. There's sacrifice that can seem monumental, rejection that's gut-stabbing hard, sorrow that can just about drown us from the waves of grief. 

It's all outweighed by the joy of relationship and the hope of eternity, but, in the hard moment, it's not easy to remember the joy and hope.

In the middle of hard, when we're learning to persevere, it's easy to walk away. 

Embrace the world again. 

Climb out of the deep and wade into the shallow water. 

I've seen some of that lately, and it breaks my heart.

When I'm in all-out-battle spiritual warfare, I can understand the decision, but it's not a good one.  

There are moments when I'd like an easier faith. Some days, an Olsteen-style prosperity gospel looks attractive to me, but I know better. 

Jesus didn't have a place to lay his head. He had to get money from the mouth of a fish to pay his taxes. His riches were in heaven, not on earth. 

These days, that's where most of my riches are, too.

If it's hard to stay the course as a disciple, why do we do it? Judas stayed to betray. He stayed for what He could get out of his relationship to Christ. In the end, his bad decisions and skewed priorities destroyed him.

I love the edge.

The fruit is never close to the sturdy trunk of the tree. Anyone who's ever gathered figs or apples or peaches knows that. It's always on the branch, on the floppy, not-quite-secure part. If the fruit's on the edge, that's where I want to be, too.

I don't persevere because of the fruit or the adventure, though. I stay because of relationship. I crave the still, small voice of God. The One who dragged me out of my sin, metaphorically made my feet like hind's feet and set me on the high places, is so sweet to me that I can't imagine any other life now.

The miracles. I have to admit that I love the miracles. I love seeing God do the utterly impossible in a way that makes it obvious it was Him. I love it that not one week goes by when I don't stand in amazement at the outrageous orchestrations of God. I love the awe.

I don't want any other life. I've finally made it to the life I was called to live and it looks nothing like I expected. I always knew I wasn't the one who would practice medicine until I'm ninety. I'm the one who'll still be praying, believing, writing, encouraging when I'm too old to walk around. Too frail to go. 

Because you're never too old or frail to be.

I stay because the "me" I am with Christ is so much better than the "me" I was when I was on my own and in the world. I'm more loving, caring, giving, forgiving.

I stay the course as a disciple because, despite the hard, it's worth it. 

The life I live is what Watchman Nee described as the "normal Christian life". You can have it, too, but you can't have it and the world. 

There's always a choice to make, and here's another one: What will you do with the life Jesus offers? 

We're not promised tomorrow, so today is the day to make your choice, take your stand. 

Choose well, my friends. Choose Christ, because He's worth it.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.'" Jeremiah 29:11 
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Capture Bag: When Letting Go of Hurt and Anger is Way Past Due