When Jesus reached out and grabbed ahold of me, he asked me to turn around–it was my only option. When we come to the realization that our self-led or self-made life is not producing life, we can either try more of the same or surrender control to God’s leadership. People have always attempted to add God to their life, only to be left with a sense that God just isn’t for them. Many church going people are religiously active and yet don’t know God, and God doesn’t know them as his children. The words Lord, Lord can be spoken without the slightest spiritual connection. Claiming the label of “Christian" can give us a sense of identity but leave us powerless and only with an illusion of spiritual transformation. These aren't my thoughts, this is a reality that pained Jesus, and he spoke of it clearly. So it’s important the we understand the difference between just attempting to give ourselves a spiritual makeover and when God is actually changing us.
There came a day in 1984 when God told me to turn around and follow him. I had “accepted” Jesus numerous times. I had walked the aisle so much there might have been a path in the carpet. The commitment to do better and be more spiritual would come on me in waves, but it wouldn't last for long. I didn’t know how common and commonly empty my experience was to millions of others. But then, as I stared at the ugliness of my life, I heard a clear and clearly different message. Jesus asked me to turn and walk away. He wasn’t offering to make me a little better. Jesus was telling me that this was not something I could do or would do, he was going to make me brand new–like I was born all over again.
This spiritual encounter is both real and all consuming. When God turned me around I saw a whole new world view. My value structure changed so radically that I began to despise the stuff I had relied on. The Cocaine and Crown Royal was still calling my name but I now saw them differently–the ugliness of my God substitutes was now revealed. It was clear now that my crutches not only could care less about my life, they actually hated me and appeared now like the fingers of evil.
I don’t know whether God is calling you to turn around, but if he is, let’s go. Turn your back to the worldview and value structure that left you spiritually wheezing and not fully alive. Turn away from the struggle for power, the addiction of sex, or the grip that finances has on your soul. Turn your back on blaming others and trying to find identity in being a victim. Turn aside from any God substitutes that have promised everything and delivered little to nothing. It’s true, when God turns our eyes to him, the old things of earth get strangely dim.
Tomorrow I want to tackle with you what it means to follow Jesus. Why we absolutely have to walk away from some things and why faith is so risky and beautiful at the same time.
Matthew 7, Luke 5:31-32