Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Because I Felt Like Writing

I don't think anyone reads this much, but that's okay. I'm back from surgery, breathing well, and ready to get back to life.

The Lord has been teaching me a whole lot lately -- and I do mean a WHOLE lot. I suppose in large part, this is due to my health issues of late. Really, there isn't anything like contemplating your own mortality to get you thinking about the things that matter. I'd like to share a few of these things.

First, I learned that I wasn't prepared as I thought I was to face my own death. There were a few times through this ordeal where I really began to wonder: Is this it? It was really scary. I'd like to say I was at peace with the whole thing, but I can't.

Right before my first collapse, I guess you could say I was experiencing as spiritual "renaissance." I really felt like my walk was going really well. Well, perhaps that was just in comparison with where I had been because I can tell you, I was not trusting God completely. And really, that's where the rubber meets the road. Do you really trust God? Do you really believe that He has your best in mind? Ostensibly, the answer we give is "Yes, of course." The reality is, God puts you through the fire. The Bible says He does this to refine us, to make us perfect and complete.

On my worst night, I remember one thing very vividly. I was really struggling with pain and breathing, when I remembered the verse: "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord." Then I thought: "I have breath! I can still praise Him." And it was very comforting. I really felt the presence of the Lord then. I felt as though He were right next to me. Even though my suffering was not ameliorated at the time, God gave me a sense of peace that overcame it. And that is what He does. He doesn't necessarily take us out of our suffering, but He is with us all the way through.

The second thing I learned is that I have only one purpose in my life: to please the One who created me. While this might seem obvious, how many of us live our lives intent on this purpose? I know I haven't. I constantly live for myself. It's almost a rarity that I pause to say, "Your will be done." But the reality is that my ambitions will die, along with those of everyone in the world. The only thing that remains is the Lord. "The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord remains forever."

The implications of a true realization of this principle are far-reaching. No longer can you live to please yourself; you must live with the sole focus of glorifying the Lord. To be honest, this sounded kind of cold and dutiful. I struggled with this for several days. Our only purpose is to glorify God? I suppose my reaction was something akin to the notion of us spending an eternity playing a harp on a puffy cloud. Really? That sounds pretty -- dull. Then the Holy Spirit revealed it to me: the love of God makes it grand!

Serving God isn't gray and emotionless, it's vibrant and joyful! It's not synthetic and stoic, it's organic and visceral! God really loves us! He gave His only Son to die for us; He gave up everything so that we could live. God really feels great affection for us. He longs for us; He pines for us; He yearns for us. He loves you so much! Think of the person you love the most. Think of the things you've done for them because of your love. It caused you to go great lengths, did it not? But God's love is far more persistent, further reaching, and longer lasting than any love the world has ever known! And His love is directed toward you. So why not live for Him? He's done everything for you!

For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. --1 Corinthians 5:14-15