God is an artist and the best thing He has created is you. He goes to a blank canvas with no instrument in hand. All He needs is His voice. With every word bursting forth into the blank space, the picture begins to take shape. It’s 4-dimensional, it’s living, it’s breathing, it’s here and now. Look around. You are living in His painting. You are His painting.
The unique thing about you, the thing that sticks out like the proverbial elephant in the room is your reflection. No. Not the thing you see when you look in a mirror. Not the thing you see when you look down into a body of water. You don’t get any credit for this. The unique thing about you is whom you point back to, whom you reflect, whose image you were created in. God put His mark throughout His work of art, but none clearer, none more powerful than in you.
A changing existence confronted by an unchanging God
The change in your life is quickly killing you. It’s killing your ability to trust in anything or anyone. You don’t look as you did ten years ago. You don’t think as you did five minutes ago. Your understanding is ever-expanding or it is diminishing – it isn’t staying the same… Change. It’s quickly killing your peace. You’re in search of it, remembering how things used to be. So what do we do?
Life is like weather in the Midwest region of the United States. One minute it is sunny and 75 degrees, and the next, it is snowing and 30 degrees. Change. It happens. All. The. Time. You’re happy then you’re not. You’re stressed then you’re stressed even more. Your kids are little then they’re not (my oldest just turned 3 years old!).
I must admit: one of my favorite movies is Live Free or Die Hard with Bruce Willis and Justin Long. It’s a combination of action and nerd. It’s perfect. In the movie a terrorist group begins executing a fire sale. Long’s character (a hacker who was being picked up as a suspect for the fire sale) explains to Willis (the cop picking him up to be questioned by the FBI) that a fire sale in the hacker world is a full fledged attack on the infrastructure of a country. “Everything must go,” he proclaims.
Everything must go… Yes! But not just the infrastructure of a singular country. No, that’s not enough. Everything must go… Everything. But I don’t mean via computer hacking. No. That would be too small. Incapable of doing what needs to be done. God is the only One who can pull off a fire sale of heavenly proportions. And that is what He has set out to do since chapter three of the book of Genesis. Ever since sin came in and corrupted His creation He has been on a quest, an adventure, of getting rid of the plague and bringing about something completely different.
So, about the Church… When I first began interacting with her, it was at a large Assemblies of God congregation in my hometown of Fort Wayne, IN. I saw the work of God in a couple close to me and I asked them if I could go to church with them! I was drawn to what they knew and what I didn’t. At that large Assemblies of God congregation I was confronted with the sheer magnitude of people who were there, the powerful music, and the powerful spoken messages. I knew something special was going on.
Since then, I’ve read the Bible, become a Jesus follower, and even followed God’s call into vocational ministry. Yes, since then I’ve become confronted with something entirely different than my first experience. No longer am I the person who has never been to a church gathering and asking people to go to church with them – I’m the one asking others to come with me now (no one has asked me if they could go to church with me yet). Back to the point about the Church… Yes, let’s talk about that.
In times of difficulty we long for something beyond the here and now, beyond the day-to-day, beyond what we can see. It doesn’t matter your fundamental beliefs about the origin of life, your purpose on earth, or even whether you believe in God or not – when difficulty comes in, we inevitably look beyond what is and imagine and long for something different.
Of course, you might say, we long for things to be different in times of difficulty. That’s not very profound. And you’re right. Except that’s not what I’m saying. Our longing is deeper, further, and greater than things to simply be different. If we were all honest, we would all admit that we have moments of longing for glory. In fact, the longing is always there, we may just notice it more in moments of desperation. But why is that?
A look at the necessity of a borderline scary word
Repentance. It’s one of those borderline scary church words, isn’t it? I truly believe the statement is true: Christianity without repentance is dead. Why? Because repentance is fundamental to not only initial transformation, but it is also fundamental to the every day faith journey of Christ followers.
The kitchen door in my grandmother’s house is a bit of a death trap. It’s one that swings both into the kitchen and into the dining room. It’s usually left open, but there are times where it’ll get to swinging. When it does, it’ll swing back and forth and then come to rest completely closed.
We live in a world that is both beautiful and broken. It is both peace-filled and pain-filled. It is both love-filled and hate-filled. We live in a world that is complicated. And sometimes we face impossible situations. For those facing troubles right now, you feel what I’m referring to. When we face troubles, real troubles, it’s easy to be consumed by them – to feel as though there’s no escape from them.
Often times, we don’t know how to react to the troubles we face. We don’t know how to conduct ourselves, how to handle people’s concern, how to move forward in the day. We search for God-honoring thoughts, but the only one that comes to mind is, “why”. Luckily, God does not leave us without hope, without encouragement in the face of our troubles.
If you’re a fan of Mixed Martial Arts, you get the idea of tapping out. If you’re not, let me explain. If you were in the ring with someone battling it out, you may try a submission move. It’s called a submission move because the hope is that the other person will submit to you by tapping out, thus admitting defeat. Submission is a huge idea in the life of a Christ follower because we are commanded to do so, that is, to submit to God.
Without submitting yourself to God, you will consistently live a life without Him as your Lord. To put God in the right position in your life, you must submit.