Every couple of weeks I have a sacred time carved out with a friend/mentor/life coach/accountability friend/ encourager/ over all great man of God. He's a breath of fresh air when life gets stale. He helps my focus to find the target again. He's a man full of wisdom who is willing to live life 'with' me. I appreciate my friend more than I could ever let him know.
Yesterday we were talking about life and the complicated paradox laid before us. Jesus came to give 'life more abundant' but more often times than not, we sense the pressure of 'sacrifice' ruling the day. Everyone knows life is hard. Bills come due, economies crumble, disease comes to steal our joy away, and relationships continue to flex from friendship to foe. Life is HARD!
We were sharing the hardships of life yesterday, and in the midst of conversation, somehow we started talking about Abraham and Isaac. Remember that story? Remember when Abraham walked Isaac up to the top of the mountain to sacrifice his son on an alter, because GOD ASKED HIM?
How crazy is that?
Can you, fathers, imagine what it must have been like to walk Isaac up the hill knowing all along he was going to stick a knife in his son's heart?
It took Abraham 3 days to walk that journey.
It was a long road.
He must have had conversations with his son along the way, protecting Isaac's mind from the inevitable, still keeping the re-pore of a Father.
Then all of the sudden the time had come.
He put Isaac on the alter.
And raised the knife.
It was that time I'm most interested in.
The story tells us about God's provision with a goat in the thicket, and Isaac was spared. But the moment from picking up the knife in a strict obedience to whatever God has for us in this life. What a faith!?
In our conversation yesterday we coined a new mantra, "The knife is up." Meaning, I've looked at my life and nothing else matters than I am faithful to what God calls me to.
This morning on my drive to work, I was listening to John Piper on my iPod. I get the podcast from Bethlehem Baptist Church every week, and I listened as he quoted the entire book of Philippians. He told the congregation about the love for God's word, but when he got to the verse, "For me to Live is Christ, and to die is gain" I felt something in my spirit jump up with a rousing "YES!"
That's all I want.
That's all I desire.
That's the culmination of all the work I do with teenagers.
It's the essence of communing with God.
To come to the place where NOTHING ELSE MATTERS than I live the message of Jesus. YES! That's what I desire.
To live to be an instrument of introduction of the message Jesus came to live.
To tell the world of the Kingdom of God so humanity might live in harmony with Him and one another.
To offer forgiveness to the evils of the world.
To be an agent of healing disease.
And to offer supernatural Hope for the darkest places we might find ourselves in.
For me to LIVE IS CHRIST.
The knife is up.
And I know….
Even by saying this, the world is poised to offer up hardship.
There are harder days to come.
There will be deep dark valleys on the horizon
But…If I'm truly able to offer my body as a "holy and living sacrifice" (Romans 12) then may God be glorified whether in poverty or wealth…
TO LIVE IS CHRIST, and TO DIE IS…well, let me just say it's a whole lot better.