I love life. I really like living. One of the main reasons is that, as a child, my parents helped me understand that a life devoted to God would not only give meaning to life, but would take me through some pretty cool experiences. As I look back at fifty years of memories, I’ve got to acknowledge that they were right.
For most of my life, I’ve tried to stay close to God. I recognized His call in my teens, and I’ve prepared myself to serve. Measuring talent and skill, I fall somewhere in the middle of the pack. I’m not that great, but neither am I all that bad. I’ve learned to give it my best and realize that God takes over from there.
Over the years, my zeal has occasionally been dampened by a quiet conviction that slips in as I read scriptures that talk about sacrifice and suffering. To be honest, I don’t do either of those very well or very often.
Don’t get me wrong. If God called me to Africa, I’d leave in the morning. But my problem is — I’m too busy to stop and talk to that guy down the street. Not because I don’t care, but he’s just there at such inconvenient times. Like when the ice cream I just bought is melting and I need to get it in the freezer. Or when I’m on my way to watch the church team play softball. They get disappointed if I don’t come. So, I just wave and drive on and whisper a prayer that he’ll be there tomorrow when I won’t be so busy.
That kind of nags at my mind if I let it.
I’m trying to do better. I keep reminding myself that I’m crucified with Christ, but I usually wind up in that “what I should do I don’t, and what I shouldn’t I do” conflict that Paul wrote about in Romans. My pastor says that fasting will help me control my flesh and its desires, but every time I plan to skip a few meals, somebody invites me to their birthday party or a friend I’ve been witnessing to wants to buy me lunch. I can’t tell them no.
I try to figure in some prayer and Bible reading time, but it’s tough. Getting to work on time is hard as it is, especially now that I’m taking those evening classes. They demand a lot of my time, but the boss offered to pay and I couldn’t pass that up. Figure in three church services a week, and you can see the week is loaded. I even have to record my favorite tv shows to watch later.
Jesus said to take up my cross and follow Him. I get that and have no problem with the cross. When I’m in church and the preacher is talking about it, it all makes sense and I’m committed to follow. But when I get with all my friends, the commitment fades pretty quickly and I become just one of them.
Paul wrote about dying daily, so maybe that’s the key (I Corinthians 15:31). You know, denying myself every day. Making myself pray before I go to work regardless of how little sleep I get. Letting the ice cream melt while I visit with my neighbor. Not worrying so much about not fitting in with the crowd. Things like that.
I can see how making a few simple changes could transform my spiritual life and make me a more effective witness.
I can’t ignore them any longer.
I’ve got to break out of this hot and cold cycle.
So, I’m reviewing my calendar and making time for prayer and Bible reading. I’m rethinking this whole college plan. Is it really worth all the time I’m investing? I can free up a few hours on Saturday and make time to teach some Bible studies.
I’ve got my calendar, my Bible, and my notebook spread out on the table. I’m ready to do the hard work so I can become what God has called me and needs me to be. Enough talk about being crucified with Christ and dying daily. It’s time for me to surrender my will and harness my carnal appetites and live like Jesus said and Paul taught.
I’m going to do it.
Starting first thing in the morning.