Categories
Salvation

An Encounter With God (Part 3): The Narrow Path

Read Part One here.

Read Part Two here.

“Majesty, Majesty,

Your grace has found me just as I am,

Empty-handed but alive in Your hands,

Majesty, Majesty,

Forever I am changed by Your Love,

In the presence of Your Majesty.”

                           – Delirious (Majesty)

Every story has a beginning, middle and end. Mine is no different. You’re not going to find a conclusion in this post though. My story isn’t over! Far from it.

Salvation may start with a prayer but it’s not supposed to end there as is often the case with many people. There’s a process we all need to go through. One where God destroys our old wineskins, gives us new ones and then pours in His wine; which as the people in John 2 discovered, is the best there is.

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment and make the tear worse.

Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins  If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

– Matthew 9:16-17 (NIV)

So many of us are going to God to get our clothes (read lives) patched up. Yet He wants to give us brand new clothes (read lives)! It doesn’t matter how many “anointed” hands are laid on you, how many sermons make you feel blessed, how many church ministries/departments you’re in, how many Bible studies you’re part of, how close you get to the pastor/reverend/bishop/insert title here, how many seeds you sow, how many of these things you do for whatever the reason you do them, unless you have encountered God, had Him get rid of your old wine skin and gotten a new one, all you’re doing is going round the mountain like the Israelites did in Exodus.

Round and round and round, seasons changing but your life still in the same square radius. Still struggling with the same issues. Still going back to the same sins. Still kinda-sorta saved. Thinking you’re headed to Canaan yet you’re nowhere near it. Because you’re trying to pour new wine into an old wineskin that simply doesn’t have the capacity to hold it.

The greatest gift we get from the Cross isn’t the forgiveness of our sins or a gate-pass into heaven, it’s God Himself. The veil has been torn. The veil has been torn! My God, we don’t understand the sheer magnitude of what You did, do we?

These things that we do…these attempts we make to get close to God are all futile if we skip out on encountering Him. You will never be truly satisfied until you have God Himself. These things and these people cannot take the place of God. They are merely meant to lead you to Him. Not take His place.

“(I am) convinced that church, HIS music, HIS books & HIS people can only satisfy for a season…after that only GOD HIMSELF can satisfy.” (God chasers)

– @WaihigaMwaura

I’m not going to lie to you. Encountering God won’t be a walk in the park at first. God will never compete with anyone or anything for your attention and affection. Are you kidding me? He is the Creator of heaven, earth and you as well. He loves you but He’s certainly not going to beg. Encountering Him means putting aside anyone and anything that would challenge His position as Lord of your life. And just for the record, Lord means master.

Anything that comes between you and God is either a prop or an idol. A prop is something or someone you depend on more than you do God. An idol is something/someone that governs your life; influences you and the decisions you make.

Props and idols are rarely what we expect them to be…because often they are the things and people we love most.

If God told you to quit school and preach the gospel, would you?

If He told you to leave your friends, ALL your friends, and dedicate a whole year to spending time with Him, would you?

If God told you to leave your boyfriend/girlfriend, would you?

If He told you to quit your job and sell all your belongings and move to a new country, would you?

I know what you’re thinking: God loves me. He’d never ask me to do something that crazy. Guess again. God does love you. More than you could imagine. But I didn’t make those things up. The first is Cornelius Lindsey’s story. Second one is a friend of mine’s and in part my own. Third one is part of a good number of testimonies I’ve read and heard. Fourth one is the modern-day version of Abraham’s story.

Why would a God who loves us make us let go of things and people who mean so much to us?

Anything that you would choose over God has power over you. Anything that has power over you has the ability to destroy you. Let me repeat that.

Anything and anyone who has power over you, has the ability to destroy you.

What started as petty jealousy for Cain, grew into anger and eventually ended with him killing his brother. (Genesis 4:4-8)

Do I need to remind anyone about Samson and Delilah? (Judges 16)

Judas Iscariot’s love for money led him to betray the Son of God. He went to the chief priests, they didn’t come to him. (Matthew 26:14-16)

These things and people we love so much may seem harmless right now but you can’t see beyond the corner on the road. God can. I’m not saying they’re all necessarily bad. But our attachment to them certainly can be detrimental. Especially when the day comes when we must choose between them and God. And we choose them.

The biggest prop/idol there ever was? The self. That’s right. You are your biggest prop and idol. People will give up a lot of things. They’ll even leave people and family behind. But the one thing only a few do, is give up the self. Their dreams. Their wants and desires. Their will.

Allow yourself to die.

It goes against every instinct we have and yet it’s what we must do. You have to die. There can only be one God in your life and so long as you still live, you will never let Him take His rightful place. Whether consciously or not, you will push Him to the very edges of your life…because it’s still your life. Not His.

And for as long as that’s the case, He can’t reveal the depths of His truth, His love…the depths of Himself to you. You’ll be stuck trying to use a song, a sermon, a ministry, a prayer, etc to make you feel closer to God. When He’s standing right in front of you with His arms wide open.

“Jesus says it’s the narrow Gate and the narrow Path that leads to Life, and only a few will find it. (Matthew 7:13-14) There is a Path that you must walk, and the Path is a process that Jesus calls “discipleship”.

Discipleship is not an optional extra to people who are already born-again.

Many people just want to trust in Jesus to save them from their sins and take them to heaven when they die, but they don’t want the process of discipleship. They are willing to enter into the Gate, but they are not willing to walk the Path.

Many Christians have entered the Gate, but very few of them are actually walking the Path. There they are, sitting just inside the Gate, rejoicing in a future hope, rejoicing in a future reward, but they don’t realize that being a disciple of Jesus doesn’t simply mean praying a prayer or believing something or joining something.

It’s a process – a journey.

– The School of Christ

I can actually picture Jesus at the door of our Father’s house. It’s wide open and everything’s set for our arrival. All the angels and saints are ready for the reception. But everyone’s puzzled. Because the treasured guests they’ve been waiting for got so excited by the gate they decided to sit there. A lavish banquet with the King of Kings awaits them inside the house. All they have to do is walk up the path and  into the house. But these people decided to stop at the gate. The gate?!

For how long are we going to be so blind?

For how long are we going to be so foolish?  

Categories
Salvation

An Encounter With God (Part 2) : You Want Me To Do What?

Read Part One here.

When people tell you about salvation they tell you many things.

They tell you how much God loves you. They tell you that your sins will be forgiven and you’ll be free (they never say of what exactly though). They tell you that heaven awaits you on the other side. They tell you of the fiery flames of hell that you don’t want get caught up in. They tell you to choose life…eternal life.

They conveniently leave out the part where you have to die.

I’d be tempted to hold it against them. But I don’t think they even know.

The first time I heard about the Cross was in Sunday School. I don’t remember exactly what the message was but it was something along the lines of Jesus loves me and He wants me in heaven with Him. All I had to do was say a simple prayer and believe what I was saying. Sounded simple enough. So I did.

As the years went by, I repeated that prayer several more times with a few amendments here and there. Just in case I’d spoken too softly or not believed enough those other times. Just in case the angel who writes those names in the Book of Life got too many of them at the same time and forgot mine. Just in case he’d confused me with another Mary-the world’s most common name. This is eternity we’re talking about. It doesn’t hurt to be sure.

Then came the inevitable question-does God really exist? Where was the proof, the evidence? I looked around and found none. There was no tangible, irrefutable thing that I could hold up in the air and yell-HERE IS PROOF THAT GOD EXISTS! But I came to an interesting conclusion-my life felt more right with God in it than without Him. Even with all the questions I still had something inside me just held onto Him and refused to let go. I’m well aware that’s hardly a sufficient answer for any skeptic but since when did faith-the substance of things not yet seen-become logical?

Something was amiss though. I’d started riding from one song to the next, one sermon to the next, one prayer to the next looking for something that seemed to be there one minute and gone the next. Until the next song, the next sermon, the next prayer. I felt like a junkie looking for their next high. And it was getting harder and harder to find a high that was, well, high enough. I was going through the motions-the one thing I’d promised God and myself I’d never do.

Is this it?

Is this all there is?

If I had a dollar for all the times I’ve asked those questions…

I stopped going to church regularly. Not because I no longer believed in God. I just wasn’t going to sit through service after service pretending God and I were ok. We weren’t. We both knew it. Whether or not anybody else knew it didn’t matter. I had too much respect for Him to attempt to present a hypocritical façade. He wasn’t going to buy it, why bother selling it to anyone else?

See He wanted me to do something I wasn’t ready to.

He wanted me to die.

I’d surrendered most of my life to Him but He wanted what was left. The part of me I gave to absolutely no one. The part of me that had big dreams of what I was going to do with my writing and my life as a whole. The most important part of me.

When I flung that door open, I wasn’t just angry, I was furious. Why couldn’t He just let me be happy? Why did He have to take away the one thing that made me happy? Why couldn’t He just be ok with the 98% I’d given Him?

When I flung that door open, I was terrified. Because I knew that He was going to take away that last 2% and I’d have nothing left. After all the years I’d spent fighting to hold onto myself, Mary as I knew her would be gone. Just like that.

What was I supposed to do then?

Who was I supposed to be?

When I flung that door open and saw the look in His eyes, I knew it was going to be worse, far worse, than I’d feared it would be.

But there was something else in His eyes.

Relief.

Hope.

Love.

(To be continued.)