Tuesday, October 20, 2015

In His Steps

The standard of Jesus as an author was too ideal. Of course Jesus would use His powers to produce something useful, or helpful, or with purpose. For what reason was he, Jasper Chase, writing this novel? Why what nearly every writer wrote for - money and fame as an author. He was not poor, and so had no great temptation to write for money. But he was urged on by his desire for fame as much as anything. He must write this kind of matter.

But what would Jesus do? The question plagued him even more than Rachel's refusal. Was he going to break his promise? Did the promise mean much, after all?

As Jasper Chase looked out his window, Rollin Page emerged from the clubhouse just opposite. Jasper noted his handsome face and trim figure as he started down the street. He went back to his desk for a moment and then returned to the window. Rollin was walking down the block and Rachel Winslow was now beside him. Rollin must have overtaken her.

Jasper watched the two figures until they disappeared. Then he turned to his desk and began to write. When he had finished the last page of the last chapter of his book it was nearly dark. What would Jesus do? He had finally answered the question by denying his Lord. It grew darker in his room. He had deliberately chosen his course, urged on by his disappointment and loss.

Those paragraphs, from the book In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon, are terrifying to me. They are of a faith rocked and broken not by persecution or upheaval or terror, but disappointment and choice. It is not under torture or torment, it is not with bombs and guns.

It is a man alone in his room, choosing to walk away.

What is terrifying about this is the simplicity of it, and how common it is.

We see people make the choice every day. We have made this choice ourselves, at least on some days. It may not be as final as the paragraphs above, but can be just as deadly.

Our world lives and thrives on the lie that if it is not "bad" then it must be OK. It gives permission to do what we will as long as we are "following our conscience." It insists that our will is good, and that what we desire is fine, that as long as we are following our hearts we surely will end where we belong. In short, it says the exact opposite of what Christ calls us to.

I cannot recall anywhere where God said, "as long as it does not go directly against my commands, I don't care what you do." I cannot think of anyplace in the Bible where that is even implied. And I cannot think of anything like that because I am convinced that it does not exist in God's Word.

You see, Jesus does not call us to follow our own will, but His. He does not call us to tweak our lives, but overthrow them. His call is one of total subjection to Himself, and nothing less. To insist on our will because it is not "bad" is still to insist on our will over His

This is not something that can stand.

What we must do, if we are truly going to follow Jesus, is ask why we do what we are doing. We need to take the time and effort to dig down and see the real reasons and motivations that are driving us. There is a time for work. There is a time for play. There is a time for family. There is a time for friends. There is a time to be alone. But in all of those things there is and must be time for God. He must fill and override them all if we are to be who He truly calls us to be.

If we don't, we may very well reach a point where we look out our window, recognize our final choice, and close into a darkened room and a darkened heart.

If we do, however, we have so much more to look forward to. When our lives are filled with the light and love of Christ, when every crevice and undercurrent is written by God, when we choose to fill our lives and experiences with the life-giving force of the Savior, and when our lives are over-ridden with the love of serving the Master, everything changes.

There is a light that waits over the horizon, and you are invited to it. There is love and hope and light and life waiting on the other side, just out of reach and just out of sight. But we can catch glimpses of it now. Patches of glory that shine through and give us hope for what is coming. But we must make the choice now to be a part of it. We must choose to follow and fill ourselves no matter the cost. We must subject our lives, hobbies, friends, families, jobs, food, experiences and everything else the upward call of Christ.

Because on the other side lies darkness. Beckoning with promises of power and wealth and happiness. Empty promises it can never fulfill because it is empty itself. It has nothing true to offer except a sucking away of all we hold dear. It lies subtlety, appearing to be so much more than it is, its only true desire to drink deeply of our lives and empty us before the end.

But God offers to fill. He offers to fill us to overflowing and more. But we cannot accept it if we hold tight to our own wills. We must let go, because that is the only way we can truly recognize Him as Lord. He offers freely. The only condition being that we give up our poor ration of crumbs so He can fill us with the full fatness of His joy and blessing.

The choice is ours to make. To follow the Master of All who can truly give or the little gods who promise much but only consume. There is life waiting, and there is death.

Let us be those who choose life.