Did you lose it… or Earn it?

I’ve lost weight before. I ate what I wanted, didn’t bother to exercise and when I stepped on the scale found a nice surprise. Metabolism? Extra inadvertent steps? Who knows, but this is lost weight. I’ve lost my keys too. It took as much effort and planning to lose my keys as it did to lose the weight. And in this case, ‘lose’ is the correct verb for both incidents.

I have also worked hard, suffered, sacrificed, and REMOVED weight from my body. Intentionally. This weight wasn’t lost, it was systematically and forcefully removed. It wasn’t happenstance. It wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t a question mark as I approached the scale each day. I earned my health.

Hopefully you realize the difference isn’t simply semantical. Many of us are content to lose. And even after sloth, we find pride when we do.  ‘Look at that, I lost 3 pounds after that stomach virus! Woot!

Compare this way of thinking with your relationship with God. Of course we have to say right off the bat that we don’t “earn” anything with God.  But we do have responsibilities to keep the relationship going.  And often, we take the same approach as we do with weight loss.  We focus on what we can lose.

We can be passive and just watch the loss happen.  We can be a pew warmer in our church lives.  Never engaging, never connecting, never growing.  We can prioritize private reading and prayer time last in our lives (often getting neglected in favor of more exciting things like TV, internet, or the latest I-Device).

We can live for the weekends and then waste those as well.  And then we hit a high note.  We get something right, possibly by accident, or just circumstances that line up in our favor.  And we proudly exclaim, ‘look at that!  I lead a prayer, or I really helped that person, etc.. ‘  We puff up and feel like we have really accomplished something when we didn’t really do anything at all.

I fear many of us know the spiritual rut of complacency.  And the walls are lined with lies about how well we are doing when the scales just keep shouting out, “obese!”.  We are meant to pursue Jesus the same way we intentionally and specifically remove weight.  We go after Him.  We drop high calorie friends and cut out fatty habits.  We dive into the word, we wrap our minutes all throughout the day with prayer.

We don’t just happen to bump into Jesus and make a good impression… we chase Him down.  We cannonball into the baptismal and come out dripping with the Savior and His desires for our life.  Can you feel the difference?  One approach says, whatever will happen will happen as long as I don’t have to do much.  The other says, I am loved by God, and that is how I will be known.  I will carry my cross and follow Him.  I will look like Him.  I will be blessed and forgiven by Him.  I will not wait for the right moment or the right lighting or the right song, or the right circumstances… I will go now.  Because now is the only moment I have any say over.

I didn’t earn Him.  He was a gift.  But I refused to let Him pass me by.  I accept.

 

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Who is Driving This Thing?

When I was very young my grandad let me drive his boat. It was pretty simple. A throttle that went up or down (fast or slow), and a steering wheel that turned in circles ( left or right. )

I can see how he might have logically deduced that even a young boy couldn’t mess that up. As soon as he said, “gently push the throttle up”, all logic was gone (several hundred feet behind us to be more precise).

I was learning how my logic was flawed as well. I knew boats to go through the water, but had no clue that at high speeds they violently bounced on the waves. I also had no idea that the front of the boat would raise up out of the water so much that I couldn’t even begin to see in front of us.

With zero visibility and the boat bouncing out of control, I wasn’t sure what to do. Without sight, I didn’t know whether safety was to the left or right. Without wisdom and experience, the thought to pull the throttle back never entered my mind.  I only knew one thing from my lesson with grandad… push the throttle forward. And that is all I did.

I feel like I’ve done this in other areas of my life.  When God whispers, go forth, I run out of control before He can even finish the instructions.  He knows the destination, I don’t.  And even when blinded by obstruction and ignorance I can’t speed up fast enough into unknown territory.  My life is bouncing off the waves and a tiny boy is at the wheel randomly throwing the steering wheel back and forth.

There are several things the enemy doesn’t want us to know.  First, we can slow down.  Even stop.  It’s not only OK, its preferred to have things in order with the Father before running out.  Second, We aren’t on the boat alone.  My grandad didn’t wait for me to ask for help.  Fearing for his life and mine, he took things back under control.  Help is one prayer away.  Third, this isn’t a maiden voyage.  Our Savior went before us and He left instructions.

Often when life gets out of control I shake my fists at the sky while I’ve locked the throttle in at full speed.  Much like my exercise bike, its only use these days is to hang assorted laundry on.  God has given us the throttle and the steering wheel.  And He beckons us to follow Him through safe waters.