Saturday, March 21, 2020

What is it Worth to You?

How badly do you want to see this COVID-19 coranavirus go away? Last week I wrote about how we reap what we sow. So what have we been sowing? Not just over the past month or past year. What have we been sowing over the past several decades? 

For some people, that seems like a long time, and there is so much that has changed over the past 30 years that I could almost agree. Last month, I celebrated an anniversary with my wife, traveling Orlando, FL for a long, wonderful weekend. We lived in Orlando 20 years ago, and it was amazing to see how much had changed. We drove to the Christian School where I had worked as well as the church the school was affiliated with. We found the apartment building where we lived when our first son was born, and the Backyard Burger that we frequented as a special treat with our oldest daughter. So much had changed: the streets, the buildings, the fields. What was once new construction had become weathered and was being replaced by the next generation… much like me. 

Life is a struggle, but I’m not ready to lay down my arms. I have experienced so much in my life, but there is so much I’ve yet to do. Like the song goes the musical Hamilton: there so many things I haven’t done; just you wait! Or maybe the lyrics from Les Miserables: there is strength within me yet; my race is not yet run! I’m inspired by music and stories more than any form of art, especially the stories of noble perseverance in doing what is right, finding a reward in the end. 

Ecclesiastes tells us that with much knowledge comes much sorrow, and I have learned a lot in my half-century. Among other things, I have learned that man is exceedingly selfish, yet God is wonderfully gracious. I walk through empty grocery store aisles and am reminded that greedy components will starve the system. Whether based in greed, like the man who bought massive quantities of hand sanitizer to sell at an exorbitant price on Amazon, or fear like the people who emptied the grocery store before it was emptied by other panicking mobs, our generation has revealed itself to be self-serving. 

And I have learned that Christians do not represent their God well. I write that an inconsistent Christian myself, who can give into his own desires rather than choosing the better thing. I don’t represent my God as He deserves to be represented. His people should be holy, which means to be set apart for Him completely and exclusively, but do we truly live that out? I know I don’t. I haven’t wanted it badly enough. I have to admit that I want to desire this more than I actually do. We need to want it badly enough to truly live it out without inconsistency or hidden hypocrisy. Like the DC Talk song goes: I’m still a man in need of a savior. 

I know I’m not alone in this. The apostle Paul wrote that he continued to do the wicked things that he didn’t want to do and he often failed to the good that he wanted. Like Paul, I am grateful for the grace of God that accepts me just as I am and yet works in me to become more like my God, to be an ambassador of His grace to this world as He continues to transform me into the man He has always desired that I become… the man I want to be and who I strive to be. But we need to want it badly enough to not let anything get in the way, even the things that would otherwise be considered good and healthy. 

So speaking of healthy, this brings us back to this global COVID-19 crisis. I’m not convinced that a large part of the problem wasn’t caused by man’s selfishness, but I am convinced that God will work this together for good for His people. That is what He does. Despite our hard hearts, He continues to work all things together for good for His people, the people who bear His name. That includes Christians throughout the world as well as Israel. We bear His Name, and we represent Him to this world. We are ambassadors that will either represent Him well or not, and we bear the responsibility to take action during this crisis that He promises will yield a benefit. 

He says that if His people, who are called by His name, will 1) humble themselves and 2) pray, and 3) seek His Face and 4) turn from their wicked ways, that He will A) hear from heaven B) forgive our transgressions and C) Heal our land. Four simple things that are not necessarily easy: 

  1. Humble ourselves 
  2. Pray 
  3. Seek God’s Face 
  4. Turn from our wicked ways 

God has promised us that (A) He is listening, waiting for us to turn to Him so He can (B) forgive our sins and (C) bring healing into our lives. If we do this, He will not just bring healing into our lives, but He will heal the land in which we are living. Four simple things we can do. Four action steps that as His people we should want to do, and He will fulfill three magnificent promises to each of us… for all of us. Regardless of where you are, this is a promise for all those called by His name. It is our responsibility to the world around us, our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Do you want it badly enough? 

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