Sometimes I read the teachings of Jesus and feel like a child staring through a barred window watching everyone playing at Disney World. Do you ever feel that way? Where’s the joy, peace, love, and goodness referred to in scripture? Where’s the “blessed are the peacemakers” in a nation where President after President is praised for war? I guess it’s easy to believe the “pure in heart” will see God in a world that wants to send them to meet Him. But it’s very difficult to believe the “meek will inherit the earth” when every presidential outcome results in a power hungry lunatic helming the nation.
What about us as individuals? Is the life offered by Jesus a fantasy that is unattainable until death? How is that “good” news?
We serve a God who says he wants to empower us through his Spirit for a life that is full and more amazing than we could imagine (Luke 11:13). So what keeps us from experiencing that life?
This morning, Will, my three year old son walked up to me as I was standing in the kitchen and pointed up at the ceiling, “I want to touch that, dad.”
I asked “You want to touch the ceiling?”
“Yes, you pick me up, please” (I love how kids think throwing a “please” at the end of a command makes what they say polite “Shut up, please”).
I lifted him up, but he was so worried about falling that he refused to let go with both hands so I could lift him high enough to reach the ceiling. He had one hand reaching up, but the other was hanging on to my neck as tightly as possible. So I said, “Will, you have to let go if you want to touch the ceiling.”
“I don’t want to, I’ll fall” he said.
“I won’t let you fall, just let go.” So, I finally grabbed his hand and pulled it off my neck, then lifted him high enough so that he could touch the ceiling.
He got a huge smile on his face and said “Again!”
Sometimes, we have to completely let go of something in order to pursue the life God has for us. If we really want to experience that abundant life about which Jesus spoke, we may have to give up some of our comforts. There may be people, places, hobbies, or desires that we must release in order to pursue the freedom offered by God.
…Or maybe we have a view of God that we need to give up… or maybe our image of Him is so distorted it is not even close to who He is… and just like the ancient Jews, we wouldn’t recognize Him if He came riding on a donkey through the center of town.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers about what it means to live abundantly in Christ, but I think it starts here:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
It starts with having enough faith to come humbly before God and letting go of those things that you already know you don’t have the ability to change. It starts with getting rid of our own views and perceptions of what He can or can’t do… and that we can somehow “do enough” to earn His favor. It starts with trusting that He has a purpose and a will that is higher than our own, then allowing ourselves to be used by Him for His purposes.
I believe when that happens, we will begin to experience the life that He offers. The life we read about in the words He spoke so long ago.