Wednesday, October 08, 2008

"What I Learned Yesterday About Tomorrow, Part II"
Lessons 3, 4, and 5

Lesson Three: “They will walk like me”

A friend of mine uses the phrase “withness” instead of “witness” to share the intimate nature of what following God really entails. Loving Jesus is more than knowing the right doctrine or following the prescribed list of disciplines. No, loving Jesus means “being with” Christ in both how we approach our relationships with God and with each other.

As we live faithfully in relationship with Christ, that relationship imprints on our words and actions how we live in the world. We “reflect” that which we believe and that for which we have passion.

This is a familiar theme for the Apostle John who, in one of his letters, describes the nature of Godly love as the connection between what we say and what we “really” believe. How will others know what we believe and to “whom we belong”? They will know by our actions and by how we treat one another.

But, how we live what we believe not only impacts our journey, but also impacts those who are watching us. “Withness” is a powerful concept for faith because it defines, from one generation to another, what those next believers cling to and how deeply their faith roots.

Lesson Four: “It ain’t over until He says its over”.

Too often, we live in a “give up” world. We “give up” if the situation gets too hard, or if the circumstances do not intrigue us, or if the outcome does not serve our purposes. A friend of mine says “giving up” is the most self-centered of reactions that exists in a self-centered world.

For many of us, "giving up" is about control, not the circumstances. Over and over again, though, God uses the difficult places of our lives to teach us the most valuable lessons. How better for God to get our attention or push us even beyond our prescribed limits than to test us beyond our control or comfort zones?

Of all of my grandfather's lessons, this one is most personal because it, more than any of the others, defines his tremendous impact in my life.

He taught me that, sure, “giving up” was an option, but never the best one. And, by pressing on and through difficult circumstances, the sweetness of lessons found only on the other side of struggle was immense and worth it.

Following God’s will, even through the uncertain and unchosen places of life, brings the greatest rewards and most profound opportunities.

Lesson Five: “I need a place”

We are created to belong. The first interactions in the Garden are about belonging--- to God, to Eden, to one another. In fact, God, who calls all of creation “good”, calls the completion of relationship in Adam and Eve “very good”. There is something complete about them being together; they have “found their place”.
Unfortunately, I didn’t fully appreciate this scene until I had lost my place. I appreciated those moments, but nothing prepared me for the significance of what those days had meant, or how much I would miss them.

I have spent the years sense talking to others, especially my children about the importance and sweetness of “place”—about how we are created to “belong” and how we are created to offer “belonging” to others.

Today, I count time around the table of my home with the people I love as the premium of my life.

I need a place. But, the place also needs me.

Next Week: "What I Learned Yesterday About Tomorrow, Part III"

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