[ I preface the following with this: I often process in song. Anyone who has had a relaxed conversation with me knows I cannot go long without being reminded of and possibly blurting out a snippet of a song (often at an inappropriate volume for the setting) and perhaps to the embarrassment of my company.]
Life happens. Distractions are ubiquitous. Busyness (one of our culture’s most debilitating dangers) rules the day even over faithfulness or effectiveness and we can find ourselves at a substantial distance into a desert we had not even noticed we entered. God’s love and goodness do not waver, but we can and probably do when we let our guard down.
I am reminded of Revelation 2:2a, 3-4 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance… You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! “ Then this song that came to mind. It is a bit cheesy 80s song from Michael W. Smith entitled “I Miss the Way” but it portrays a legitimate and all too common experience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMAr6M54A1s&list=RDoMAr6M54A1s
Take a listen. It is the story of a friend who was once focused intently and growing in her or his relationship with God. But something changed.
There are times I realize that I have drifted. Drifted from that which I know is best and most full, that heals my wounded spirit and makes me whole, yet I still allow myself when not careful to drift away. And that which fills me has never moved an inch away. In fact, often that source of spirit filling follows me so that I can return that much easier. I do not recall a time when I have abandoned or totally turned away from my faith since receiving Christ in my heart, but I have experienced too many seasons of wilderness where I have been non-focused and/or not as intentional on my relationship with Jesus.
I share this hopefully as an encouragement for all of us to examine ourselves now and often. Where are we in our intention and focus on our relationship with God? Are we availing ourselves to the healing, comforting, challenging touch of Jesus as we should, or perhaps once did? Are we investing as much energy and resources as we could or should be in appreciating God’s gift of grace by following hard after Jesus’ example?
Jesus does not drift away. God’s forgiveness, mercy, care for us does not waver. Jesus was willing to go through what He did for you once and for all, and that life-giving promise is ever present. YOU MATTER TO GOD!!! And we are all invited to respond with our joyful service and appreciation by tending to that first love of Christ.
During the weekend services at Rock Church Ministries we will be exploring going deeper. As I saw the topic of our new sermon series, I was moved to reconsider my current state of faith. And I look forward to being renewed, reinvigorated, and refreshed. Guess what? Another song to enjoy and consider if you will. Don Moen’s “Deeper In Love” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwEKRZ0I7Gg
“God loves you and there is nothing you can do about that, but because God loves you, there are many things you can to respond to it. May our lives be a response to God’s love.”
Events and services you don't want to miss!
Thursday Evenings: Come check out a safe place and time to explore faith questions and inspiration while sharing a good meal (provided at no charge) with good people in a relaxed atmosphere of sharing and worshiping. Rock Church Newburyport is a different kind of church than many think of. You do not need to feel awkward because you do not know when to sit or stand or what to say. Just come and be yourself and hopefully be encouraged in your relationships with others and God. Hope to see you there. Open to any and all! www.rock-church.org/newburyport
Sunday Morning October 29th 2017: Join us as we go Deeper at Rock Church Amesbury and explore the Power of Prayer and the Holy Spirit. This week, besides being lead into worship by our Praise Team, we will be blessed by our Rock Church Worship Choir leading a couple of praise songs. Pray for a Spirit led and full weekend! www.rock-church.org/amesbury
Do you have a pair of old, probably not so great looking, but too comfy to throw away sneakers? I do. Actually, I have a few pairs. One for mowing lawn, one by the basement door to run outside for something, and one stinking up the closet. I hope Lisa does not read this or I will be down to one spare pair. But you know the kind. Pre-laced, just loose enough to slip on but tight enough not to fly off.
Now every once in a while, they get a little too loose, stretched out, or lacking in adequate support to keep them from coming off in the heat of an unplanned chase to the mailbox or run down of the garbage collector who came a couple minutes earlier than usual. A little adjustment can usually do the trick and extend their usefulness a few months, right back to near perfect. Okay, eventually they will need to get replaced and tossed, which is always a sad day indeed.
Oddly enough, dwelling on this made me consider my faith journey. As we progress along life as a disciple of Jesus, we can become quite comfortable, and that can be a good thing and even a benefit of being a long-time follower. We get used to our faith and better at conforming to the values of Christ as our experience grows. We can become relaxed a bit more, but still supported and faithful. But then come times when, if we are being honest, perhaps we become a little too comfortable, maybe a bit complacent in our behaviors and attitudes. Our language might degrade a bit, our sensitivity to the needs of others may decrease, or our memory to always consider the least and the lost may lapse. That is when we might need to consider “tightening up the laces” to adjust to what we are supposed to be.
John Wesley, an influential church leader and follower of Jesus, challenged people to pursue scriptural holiness. To look at one’s own (not others’) life practices and consider whether they were in line with the values lifted up and exemplified in the Bible, in order to adjust our motives and actions accordingly. When faith is new, like the sneakers, it is naturally more “tight” to Jesus’ teachings and our newfound passion and appreciation is renewed with every new thing we learn. That in turn fuels our attitudes and behaviors to be as Christlike as possible. But as time goes on, even though we might get better at some things in the Christians life, the comfort may lead us to get a bit “sloppy”. Like the gym shoe.
So just in case you might be like me, I invite you occasionally, maybe now as you read this, to reconsider your faith journey and your response to God’s grace in your life. Do your spiritual laces need tightening to still be a natural and good fit? Are you as intentional at following closely to Jesus’ teachings and values as you should be? Adjust to draw closer to who and what you desire to be in your relationship with God, and your goal of pleasing the one who loves us enough to give us life and who died to give us life again.
As you grow in your faith, enjoy the comfort of getting good at some of the things of following Jesus. But may we never get so comfy in our faith as to forget to serve and love our Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer. An old sneaker can be a beautiful thing, but takes updating and adjusting at least every now and then.
We have a few opportunities coming up this week in Amesbury to update and adjust your body and soul:
Motion & Devotion this Saturday 9/16 at 9 am at the Rock Church in Amesbury! Men and women are welcome to join us for coffee, strength and flexibility training, and worship... we call it the Jesus brew! Bring your yoga mat, water bottle, and invite a friend!
Best place to be on Tuesday Night: Celebrate Recovery @ Rock Church Amesbury! Join us Tuesday nights @ 5:30 dinner 6:30 gathering as we begin a new year of CR and restart the lessons that help us in our walk to be healed from our hurts, habits and hangups. New this year in our renovated NextGen space we have "The Landing" a program designed specifically for our youth (grades 6-12)