I want to run away. I want a do over. There are some things burning in my heart that I long to pursue and give myself to but I feel trapped. Trapped by the life I am living, the financial burdens, time limitations and responsibilities I have wrapped around myself. The pursuit of what we unquestioningly refer to as life. It seems that all the things we are pursuing are so necessary, so needed yet really we are like blades of grass, here today and gone tomorrow. (Psalm 103:15) It seems like we are stressing ourselves with a busyness that may just amount to wood, hay and straw, not gold and silver. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15) So I wonder … I wonder. If it were to all end tonight, if my life were to be required of me, would I be standing in a pile of ashes? What would I regret? If I could see Jesus face to face for one moment and then return to this life, what would I change? What things, in light of His glory, would suddenly be like filthy rags? Would I turn 360 degrees or would I only adjust my course slightly? Am I storing up for myself treasure in heaven or treasure on earth? Is the difference between my life and the life of the apostle Paul – or better yet the life of Jesus – simply cultural or is there something more, a deception that I cannot perceive because I was born into it? Could it be we cannot see the forest for the trees? Recently I gave something up, something I have wanted very much for many years. Each year I have hoped to have it and each year I have had to let it go for various reasons. This year was going to be my year. I was going to have it. I even put things in motion to obtain it. And then I started thinking. What am I pursuing? Or rather, Who am I pursuing? If this life is going to pass away and I am going to live in eternity on the foundation I built here, what am I doing, what choices am I making? So I let it go again. And I cried because I was sad to let it go. I told a Christian friend about this and received an expected and generally accepted response: “but it’s not sinful to do such and such (insert your own such and such).” Agreeably, it is not sinful per se. However I think in North America too often we measure our choices and lives on a false scale of sin versus not sin. We are fairly clear as to what constitutes sin (although even that is up for debate in this age) and if we shun those things then we are otherwise free to pursue whatever enjoyments we are able to possess. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, right? But the Bible does not say that the pursuit of happiness is to be our goal. Instead, a relationship with Jesus where we are surrendered to the will of the Father and we take up our cross daily and follow Him is the reason for our being. “I think therefore I am” becomes: He wills therefore I am. Some, even Christians, would think that extreme. Willingly being beaten and brutally murdered on a cross for crimes of which One is innocent could also be deemed extreme. A Christian friend once told me that I am zealous in my faith. I read Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ”, and I wonder not if I am on fire for the Lord but rather if I have even a smoldering ember from which to ignite a spark. Do I really consider everything in my life as garbage in order that I may gain Christ. Clearly I do not. I have been told recently that what I write may offend those in the church. This is most likely to be true because as people we are so good at being offended; I know because I have had the privilege of studying my own offended heart repeatedly and at length. Nevertheless my heart beats with the apostle Paul when he writes “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:8). I yearn in my heart for more of the Lord; I want to press in for what God has for me, for the church, for the lost. I want to give grace to the sinner and stir conviction in the saint. Perhaps, after all, there is yet a burning ember hidden beneath the cold coals and cares that is my life. I pray that the Holy Spirit will stir me because it only takes a tiny spark to set the whole forest on fire.
So maybe I will run away; away from this life and all her siren calls. Maybe I will do it slowly, putting away one thing at a time, revaluating the stuff I am taking with me. Or maybe I will do it all at once, cold turkey, and find myself wearing a camel hair coat, eating locusts, wild honey and calling out in the wilderness. And then I realize, it is not so important what I am running away from as it is Who I am running to. This is a hard teaching; who can accept it? Yet where else shall I go Lord, for You have the words of eternal life. (John 6:60,68)
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