Everything Important

I invite you, Christ-follower, to quiet your soul.

Turn down the volume.

Walk away from the chatter; the soul crushing opinions of this world.

Find a quiet space, for only you and your Bible.

Close your eyes, and thank God for this moment, this breath.

Be still.

All will be well. Christ died for his own, and will gather, protect, and care for us, without end (Isaiah 40:11; 1Thess 4:13-17). He is our Conquering King, and he has already won. Our future is preserved.

The drama, the disobedience, the division swirling in our world, even within church walls, is inevitable: an unveiling of fault lines formed some time ago.

As you open your Bible, open wide your eyes to the ancient drama, the ancient disobedience, the ancient division within its pages. Familiar, isn’t it? Our ancestors battled the same selfish sins as we do, and we are united with them in reaping the consequences of Eden. We want what we want when we want it.

It is tempting to grow downcast, discouraged and despondent, curling up into a crumpled heap of despair. Careful: this is also a form of rebellion: Things are not going my way.

We build these glory towers, don’t we? Brick by brick, like Babel, firm, yet eternally-flimsy structures dedicated to ourselves. Ornate buildings that must be kicked, destroyed, felled to ruins and rubble. Good riddance.

God will not share the throne of our hearts with any idol.

As Christians walking this lifepath, we still stumble and sin. But as we confess this to God, and repent, (true believers will repent) our fractured hearts will awaken again, growing humble and soft and eager to swiftly obey God. Peace rushes in, regardless of circumstances. And now despair turns to: I want what you want, Lord. Your will, not mine.

***

I recently had some wonderful conversation with one of our sons. We were discussing choices that we, as Christians, must make for ourselves, not others. Personal convictions, anchored in Scripture, and pleasing to God.

My whole aim in life, he said, looking directly at me, is to be spiritually well.

I sat with that for a moment, a lump forming in my throat.

And there it was. Everything important had been spoken.

***

Even as Christians, there are times we may appear smooth and ordered on the outside, yet are conflicted within.

I read an article, recently, about a woman who is an alcoholic. She wrote of her journey with drink; how she deeply craved every aspect of it: the clinking of ice in the glass, the pop of the cork, the glug of the smooth, flowing wine: a liquid that swept away her anxiety, her awkwardness, her fears. It was beautifully satisfying at first. She controlled her craving, creating complicated rules for her drinking habits. No one knew of her secret and she even flourished at work, rising to the top.

But slowly the need for more wine beckoned. The drink called her name, first whispering, then pulsing relentlessly, and at odd hours. Her hands began shaking, steadied only by the clink of ice, the glass in hand. As she obeyed the urges, the shaking subsided, her anxiety quelled. But soon the problems increased: those periods of shaking and desire grew closer and closer and closer together, until her life become a frayed blur of perpetual wine in her tired hand. It ultimately destroyed her health, her relationships, and her livelihood.

It consumed her.

Isn’t this the very picture of sin? How it disrupts and disorders our life?

Those seemingly small idols, if not put to death at first glance, grow taller and stronger and attach their talons to our throats. You know them: that ache for more and more money, or acclaim, people-pleasing, pride, over-spending, greed, stinginess, bitterness, complaining, self-pity, covetousness, lust, gossip, laziness. Take your pick. Our sin-sick hearts are prone to something selfish.

At first those small sips slip down nicely, warming our ravenous bellies. And as the sin soothes, initially quieting our restlessness, we continue to partake, recklessly pouring our drink into a pretty goblet, gulping our way to intoxication, medicating ourselves with poison. Before we know it, we are desperately ill.

God hates this stubborn pride and rebellion; a refusal to hear and obey him (Jeremiah 13:10).

To please God, to be spiritually well, we must kill our personal sin, plucking those stubborn weeds from our hearts. Don’t wait: rip them out now, at the very root. Confess, repent and turn to Christ. Keep feasting on the Bible, thus creating rich, fertile soil for the Holy Spirit to work, which ultimately births in us a peaceful heart.

A tranquil soul remains anchored. At rest in the finished work of Our Crucified King, recognizing that all things, including tremendous suffering, pass through his sovereign, merciful, hands.

Stay the course, Christian. With joyful heart, as you gaze toward eternity.

Paradise awaits.

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