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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

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The Adventure of a Lifetime

" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future . . .' " (Jeremiah 29:11)

I am a person who is drawn to poetry.  Not all poetry and certainly not that sentimental muck or the avant garde type that doesn't even rhyme.  But, those poems that beautifully encapsulate in a few words what I know to be true, those are the ones that I love.  I keep a random collection of such poems and have used them often in my preaching and teaching.  I have even committed one or two to memory.  I think that God must love them too for he chose to write a significant portion of his word in the poetic.

One such poem is entitled The Road of Life and tells the story of an individual who sees God first of all as someone "out there sort of like a president" whom they recognize but do not really know.  Later on, they meet Christ and then, "it seemed as though life were rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal."  Then, one day, the author says, "He suggested that we change places, and life has not been the same since."  The remainder of the poem is about the difference, the new adventure that life can become, once we make Jesus Christ Lord of our lives by faith.  (If you haven't already done so, you can click on the link above to read the entire poem).

I always find it interesting that people somehow believe that they can have Jesus as their savior and then decide whether or not to make him Lord of their lives?  He is the creator and Lord of the universe.  He is the supreme authority.  He is the God over all, etc., etc. (see Colossians 1:15-20).  I don't just find it interesting that "other people" do it, I find it disturbing that I try to keep him from being Lord in my life.  Why, when he offers all of himself to us, do we want only a small portion of what he offers?  Why?  Because there is in each of us a sinful part that desires to be lord of our own lives and to keep control.  We do not naturally want to obey or surrender.

So I try to stay in control.  You too?  And usually, I keep control just long enough to mess things up.  And then I run back to God to fix the things that I have destroyed.  In his grace, he forgives and restores.  It gets a little better and then I think that I am okay and can take it from here.  When will we learn that God doesn't operate that way?  When will we learn that life doesn't work when we try and do it our own way?

We want to know "the plans he has for us" and his "ways that are above our ways" but often only when we have found that our ways didn't work out.  And even then at times, we want to know God's way for us so that we can evaluate it and then decide if we want to do it or not.  Well, that's not God's way and that's not the way that life comes to us either.  Only God knows the end from the beginning.

It all comes back to faith.  We commit our lives to Jesus.  We surrender and choose obedience even before we know what will be asked of us.  Often, that is a good thing how many times have you said something like, "If I had known beforehand how difficult this would be, I might not have said yes to it," even though it turns out to be something really great.  Maybe we can begin to see that it is actually more fun to live life when it is an adventure and we don't know what is around the next corner and everything is not predictable.

Most of us read Jeremiah 29:11 and are comforted by it but miss the real adventure of the verses that follow.  When we don't know the way or what is coming next, God knows that,

"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you."

God's greatest "plan" is that we get to know him and enter into a lifelong relationship with him, not just that we have stuff to do with our lives.  When we don't know what to do, when we struggle with choices and decisions, when life seems too large, has God not engineered exactly that to encourage us to call to him, to come to him, to pray and seek him wholeheartedly?  He says that He wills to be discovered. 

Today, discover the God whom someone has aptly described as "definitely loving but certainly not safe!"  He is waiting for you to come.

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