I have been struck by a few verses from The Message recently (it's a sort of modern-day translation of the Bible, for those who might not be familiar with it, written almost conversationally and in a very contemporary style).
It's no secret that we are in pursuit of a slower, quieter life. (Are you? I really want to hear about it.)
Most days life feels like this:
And I don't think anyone would deny knowing that when this is the pace of life, it's nearly impossible to hear God's voice and to discern and appreciate His movement among us during every day we breathe and walk this earth.
It's tempting to shelve these pursuits for the cooler days of Fall, when there aren't as many sprinklers to run through and it's more appealing to cozy up with a journal and a warm drink and ponder the Godward life. But as one of the verses this morning reminded me, as long as it's 'God's Today', it is a day that calls for a posture of worship. And true worship (in my experience) is something that is transformational, calls for response, and involves effort and focus on my part.
I told Rob recently that I wanted to live on land one day, preferably soon.
He replied that my dream had already come true - our house, in fact, does sit on a plot of land!
The truth is, I want to run far from the things that threaten my peace and solitude to a place that makes this journey easier. Physically running away is not only not an option right now, but it wouldn't resolve my restlessness. And I know that.
(*It doesn't keep me from dreaming about a 4 bedroom split level - um, confession: I am in love with split levels! - smack in the middle of acres and acres of undisturbed land that happen to have grape vines and raspberry bushes and wild flowers weaving around the perimeter of the yard and into the dark quiet woods. Sounds nice, doesn't it!?)
There are things that we have identified that are really hindering us, that would chase us wherever we tried to go. And as painful of a process as we imagined it to be, as we have purged idol after distraction after stumbling block from our home and hearts, we have felt blessed and filled instead of robbed and missing the things we used to toil with.
As we pray over our kids, we find ourselves constantly asking God to be near them, preserve their purity and innocence, to give them courage and wisdom, and a deep love for Him in response to what He has done already for us. We ask for their lives to be set apart for His purposes, whatever they might be. As we go about our days, we aim to reveal God and His love and holiness to their little eyes, ears and hearts. We filter what they see, are exposed to, and interact with... which in my mind is very different from sheltering, but that's another discussion for another time.
And then I got to thinking - doesn't God want the same for me? And Rob? Just as Robbie and Ellie are OUR children, Rob and I are God's children. He looks on us with the same affection, strong desires, and intense love. He desires for us to be holy and set apart. Somewhere along the way we bought the lie that our 'adult filters' were functioning well enough to keep us from being tainted personally and internally by the things we viewed, entertained ourselves with, consumed, engaged in, and danced on the line and in the grey with. It's exactly the kind of foolish thinking that I believe the Devil is sneaking around whispering in our ears, and the cost is great (don't be deceived).
I'm sure there are few of you who would agree with us, even fewer that would say that these same thoughts have moved you to action in similar ways. And that is why I want to run away. It's hard to allow your convictions to actually affect your life in ways that aren't hidden, that end up becoming the line in the sand that is drawn. But I love the freedom that we are already experiencing. He is so good, worth this pursuit and anything we are called to give up.
Thanks to those of you who have been examples in this pursuit, or who have shared openly with us about how you are pursuing God and His best in your life and have thereby become a source of great encouragement and community.
So watch your step, friends. Make sure there's no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it's still God's Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn't slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we're in this with Christ for the long haul. These words keep ringing in our ears: Today, please listen; don't turn a deaf ear as in the bitter uprising.
If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we're obviously lying through our teeth—we're not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God's Son, purges all our sin.
What am I doing in the meantime, Lord? Hoping, that's what I'm doing—hoping You'll save me from a rebel life, save me from the contempt of dunces. I'll say no more, I'll shut my mouth, since you, Lord, are behind all this. But I can't take it much longer. When you put us through the fire to purge us from our sin, our dearest idols go up in smoke. Are we also nothing but smoke?
Everyone's going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you'll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
Be encouraged that today, if you make plenty room for the Word of Christ in your life, He will keep His promise and pour out His peace. I pray that we will all be strengthened to make every detail of our lives an act of worship to our King!