Have you ever thought about the expansiveness of what Jesus did for us by shedding his blood at the Cross? Certainly, Jesus’ blood covered our sins and provided a forgiveness that provided the condition we find ourselves in long term. This forgiveness is not merely a momentary overlooking of things. And, while forgiveness would be enough, for we would need no other event to provide eternal life with the Father than that, Christ’s resurrection provided even more, much more, for us. Some time ago I read about how so much of the time believers act like children at the fair who have gotten lost from their parents. All around them are things that children dream of: cotton candy, soda, foot-long hot dogs, games, prizes, and rides. Yet, forgetting that their parents had brought them to the fair to enjoy all that, inside, because of their perceived circumstances, they were so scared and desperate they did not have the freedom to enjoy any of it. We can be like that much of the time. God has prepared so much for us, but there can be things that we overlook or take for granted in our search for things and success of this world system. In searching for so many other things, we forget what has been placed around us to enjoy.
Christ’s resurrection should have brought a ‘newness of life’ to us. That new life is associated with this life as well as the next. I’m not saying that the earth will not ‘trouble’ us; however, I am saying that we can live a life that can unite us with the fellowship of God right in the middle of this world. That fellowship can produce Joy, Fullness, Delight and Rejoicing. At the same time we were justified because of Jesus’ blood; we were adopted into His Life when Christ was raised from the dead. Jesus not only fixed our sin problem with the Father but also attached Christ’s Life to ours, attached our hearts to His. It is His great pleasure to freely give us all things pertaining to life and godliness, and if we are willing, He will manifest that Christ Life through us and to us. But, we must come to Him, search Him out, He does not come into our life or interfere without our seeking Him and voluntarily entering into His Life.
We’ve been playing a song for over 20 years now that first caused me to think about how we look at our individual lives. It’s by the Imperials and called ‘Come Into My Life’. Now because I know very well what the songwriter intended to say, I’ve had no problem playing it for all these years even though I am aware of what I consider to be a flaw in the lyric. I don’t believe that our most important prayer request is for God to come into our lives, but that we would enter His. Actually, the truth be known, we have no Life to live apart from Him. Oh, we can have a physical life, one that is responsive only to our comfort, our pleasure and self-preservation. But, it is not the Life that comes from the Tree of Life established in knowing God. I would have changed the title into this; ‘Come Into Your Life’ (just don’t tell the Imperials how I feel about that song). Our Gospel is about us entering into Life, entering into His Life. We don’t make Him a part of our world; we become a part of His. That takes an extraordinary amount of patience, but we are to let patience have its perfect work in us which will produce the comfort of ‘lacking nothing’ (James 1-4). I think that’s the hardest thing of anything we do with our Faith. It’s hard because we’re trained to expect our thinking to always be the best way for us, we are by our nature self-centered enough to want our way and we are afraid to trust in anything other than our ability to supply our needs. That’s what repentance is about, us giving up our way, our plans, our abilities and living in His. Our sin is a rebellion against His Life. It is and was originally a declaration of independence from the Life of God, first declared in the Garden of Eden. It’s us telling our Creator that our way makes more sense, has more attraction, is more important than the Life He can provide. If there is one thing that I’ve learned over the years that I consider the most important to walking out our Faith, it is that there is a Life, independent of the world, yet, at the same time, in the world. It’s a stand-alone Life, that while it touches our biological life, it has a source and purpose all its own. It’s a Life that we can have and experience but there is no shortcut to having it. We must journey the way of God to find it, to live in it. In the teaching of Romans, we are encouraged to walk in a newness of Life. To walk means to move along. It’s about transferring from one place to another. Walking is a journey. The Christian Life is not a snap-shot but a movie. It flows, continues, it’s ‘here a little and there a little’. Paul teaches us to walk by Faith and to walk in Him. (Rom. 6-4, 2Cor. 5-7, Gal. 5-16, Col. 2-6) We have to get in something to experience something. That something is His Life, Life as the Father would have it for us. It’s not just a good and evil choice, it’s a source choice: Tree of Good and Evil versus Tree of Life. It’s a patient journey through all kinds of seasons, but none of the changing circumstances change the unchangeableness of God’s Life in us.
Proverbs 16-25 says that ‘there is a way that seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof is the ways of death’. I like the reciprocal (if the way a statement is written is true then the reverse of that statement is just true as well) to the wisdom of that Proverb: we can choose a way that seems wrong unto man but the end thereof is Peace. Can we let go of our handhold on our life and fall into the grasp of His Life? I sometimes worry about people thinking that my application of Faith has led me to a great apathy; it has not. The most aggressive, the greatest feeling of risk taking, thrill-seeking that I’ve found is in letting go from my imagination, letting go of how my life should look, and Live in His. No one knows the joy of being suspended in His Life and, at the same time, the vulnerability that suspension seems to bring in our mind. I have a quote taped to my desk that says, ‘Beginning empty handed and alone frightens the best of men. It also speaks volumes of just how sure they are that God is with them’. The greatest Joy that I’ve ever found about the Gospel is when I put myself in a place that does not require my effort or skills but the necessary thing is that the Life of God holds me up and provides the stability that comes from having our Lives placed in His hands. It’s a great ride. It all boils down to we just need to have a little more Life in our days…..
‘My cell phone’s ringing and I’m running late, the morning traffic’s got me
Time is ticking away, a few more hours is all that I need
Seems like there’s just not enough days in the week, but then it hits me
Time is not the answer, You’ve given me all the time in the world
All that I need is…
A little more Life in my day
A little more of Your Life
A little more faith
Need a little more Life in my day
A little more Life to show me the way
If I’m gonna be in the world but not be of it
Lord I need more of You in all that I do
With a little more Life in my day
Sometimes I guess I get lost in the race, trying to make a deadline just to keep up the pace
I can’t help feelin’ I’m always behind, so much that I could do if I could just find the time
Lord don’t let me be in such a hurry
Trying to live my life that I miss You in it
Help me to take the time to see
All that I need is…
A little more Life in my day
A little more of Your Life’……………NewSong: Life In My Day
Ok, I’m literally awake right now. It’s 4:09 AM and I’m making these notes. Well, I’m not necessarily awake when you read this BVN letter. But as I’m writing it, it’s still very dark and very quiet at my home. Do you have trouble sleeping? If so this letter is to you. If you’re one of those people that sleeps all night–you know, sleeps like a baby– then you won’t necessarily understand my point and might even think I’m a bit crazy to even bring it up. But for us others, well, I’ve been up since 2:18 AM. Over the past twenty-one years, I have written roughly 252 newsletters and, amazingly to me, more than a few have happened just like this one, at 2:30 in the morning. Oh, I love to sleep as much as the next person. Actually, when I go to sleep every night I always hope to sleep all night long, but I don’t have that happen very often. I just seem to wake up many nights in the middle of the night, and one of two things will happen. I will check the clock to see what time it is and roll over, and within five minutes I’m out like a light. Not every time but many times, I lay there for my IST (interrupted sleep time). I used to ‘curse the darkness’, well not literally, but I got frustrated trying to get back to sleep. Working at going back to sleep is infinitely hard to do. I used to try, but the harder I tried the more awake Ibecame. Then, years ago I started to change my behavior. I began to just relax and if anything, enjoy those times. I guess the thing that made me calm down so much was that I have had a few really wonderful experiences ‘in God’ as I lay quietly in the dark. If we’re not careful, we will eliminate half of a twenty-four hour day just because it’s night time. Night time with Him can often be rich with meaning.
Actually, I realized that many things associated with the Gospel happened at night; it didn’t seem to be just a day job for God. He’s not a 9 to 5 kind of God. Jesus was probably born at night, thus the star. Moses followed a pillar of fire by night as God led him out of Egypt. Nicodemus came to Jesus at midnight. The angel appeared to Mary in the middle of the night. Jesus prayed late into the late evening or very early morning just prior to his crucifixion. Many years ago, I had a terrific ‘awakening’ in the middle of the night. With that experience, I learned a new appreciation for being awake at night. You see, our sense of hearing, both the physical and the spiritual, can be keener in the night time. People that have lost their physical sight have an intensified hearing compared to other folks. They can hear things we just ignore or never take notice of. Likewise spiritually, late at night we seem to be able to hear more intently than during our busy daytime. Some of it is just the unique quiet at night. All day long we hear so many things, some loud, some soft, but all kinds of sounds and we blend them into our daily lives. But at night, quiet! (Well, except for the snoring of our dog Ivy or the fan on that contraption that my wife uses to put herself to sleep…the ever present bedroom humidifier).
I’ve learned to ‘roll with it’ in the middle of the night. If I should fall back to sleep quickly, that’s great. If I don’t, well I just begin to think, pray or ask questions of Someone I believe is listening. Just this morning I had that kind of night that leads me to Biblical questions. Just as ships use the stars to guide them at night, I believe God uses the night sometimes to guide us. I mean, I can hear better at night, I can get in touch with my heart so much easier than in the middle of the business of the daytime. Many times I discover what’s really bothering me. Sometimes I think about what’s interesting to me. Or, I might discover something that I had not paid much attention to before but something that needed my attention for sure. Now, I’m capable of letting my imagination wonder in the middle of the night, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about a quiet time that is inspired by my heart. Many times I believe God speaks to my heart at 3 AM in ways that I don’t usually have happen any other time of the day. Fact is, God does not take naps at night, does not sleep in the early morning hours. I’m sure He is still present and accessible for us in the middle of any night.
In the Bible, we read about a fire that does not consume. Many times our frustration about not getting back to sleep exasperates us. We wrestleand fight the ‘awakeness’ to the point of exhaustion. However, the Father’s ministry at night does not exhaust. The next morning after a night of peaceful reflection, we’ll not be consumed, but rather we’ll be restored, refreshed. Now, I’m no longer afraid of being awake in the middle of the night, not afraid that I might lose too much sleep. I use the time to be sensitive to the voice of God, and often during that time God will use that opportunity to drop something on me. Many times after a night like that, the next night is one of the most satisfyingly sound sleeps I get to enjoy.
I’m not implying that I go to bed each night hoping to be interrupted and restless. But taking advantage of that interruption and restlessness has proven to be pretty rewarding. If there’s nothing being whispered to your heart, at the very least you can worship or praise Him. Sometimes I do that and I immediately fall to sleep. I feel a bit guilty when that happens. But if you do worship, just don’t get so carried away that you wake the neighbor and especially the wife! And remember, when we worship, it’s not about where but Who we worship. The middle of the night is as good a time as any, what else is there to do any way, you already watched TV all night long. Don’t underestimate the opportunity to be ‘quiet before the Lord’ in the middle of the night. I haven’t spent one night in many, many years pacing the floor or getting angry for not being able to fall back asleep. Instead, I just lay and enjoy the moment. I anticipate a meeting and a peace that is not available for most of us during our hurried daily schedule. The night time is not as distracting since I can’t see anything but dark, I can’t even see my hand in front of my face!
Slow down, take a break, quit struggling, don’t judge the time, just relax. And instead of counting sheep and getting lost in the count or frustrated after counting 856 of those critters, just know that God is a 24 hour a day God and He probably has been looking for a place where you will slow down enough to hear His voice and your heart. 2:48 AM might just be the only time He gets access to you all day long. Chill!