Sometimes I think that I have a handle on all this God stuff. I pray and fast and read my Bible. I feel patient and calm and my very soul is in connection with the Father. Suddenly, I am in line at the grocery store and the person in front of me is taking their sweet time putting their things on the belt. They are busy talking on the phone and generally being animated with everyone around them. All their items are bagged up and suddenly they remember that they need to pay for their purchases. After an eternity, they finally find their debit card only to have it rejected. They try it again and again before switching to another card that is also denied. They then decide to pay cash, but they don’t have enough for everything, so they must sort through the items in their cart.
The whole time I am thinking negative thoughts about this person. My patience is gone for the rest of the day. More accurately, I am seething. My thoughts betray a fair-weather Christian mindset. Instead of praying for this person who maybe is having some economic troubles I am filled with rage. I worship God when things go my way. Remember, this is what Satan accused Job of doing.
Many will quote Jeremiah 17:9: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” They will then try to do all the work themselves to fix that heart. Understand this, my friends, your own work is damaging to your heart. You might do better for a season, but Jesus did not die on the cross for you to change. He came that you might become a new creation. Our role is to recognize that our hearts are not fully in line with the King. Then we turn to the King and confess this to Him and ask Him to make us whole. We seek God and plead with Him to do the work. He is more than willing. We simply must ask. If I want an abundant life, this work must be done.
Abundant life is a very solid destination that I believe most of us would be overjoyed to arrive at. Yet there are those who have hijacked the Biblical meaning of abundant life. It is the life that is abundant. That does not mean limitless health and wealth. It means limitless life.
The abundant life that we are looking for is much larger than temporary comforts like cars, paintings, spouses that we have named and claimed. God’s view of and abundant life is one that is focused on the eternal. Those who are living the abundant life are more likely to spend money on experiences more than stuff. Men and women who really want to experience the abundant life will invest time and money into building into other people. Those believers that desire above all to feel the abundant life will be able to rise above the whirlwinds and reach down to help those trapped in this messy world.
The concept of living grace is about a 24/7/365 lifestyle. For too many people church is a once, twice or three times a week destination. We go to a service, sing some songs that encourage us, then hear a message that inspires, we give an offering and shake a few hands and then go home.
What you are being challenged to do here — and challenge is the right word — is to live the Gospel message of Truth and Grace. This means that you will struggle with your own heart. Then, you will take the lessons taught by God to your heart and share them in word and deed with your family, friends and strangers. Getting all these lessons engrained in those close by realms of yourself and your family; you can then take these to your businesses and organizations. But don’t get moving too quickly. This really is a process.
Rich Schaus is the executive director for the Gospel Rescue Mission in Muskogee.