Article # two: Choices
F A R
Mannie never made a singular decision to distance herself from Jesus, it was many little decisions at life’s many little crossroads that inched her to this unhappy state. Jesus is not a bright shining light, not like He once was, but rather a dim glow off in the distance. She looks in His direction once in a while, always comforted to know He is still there watching over her.
Mannie never did turn her back on Jesus; it was tiny backward steps with Him in view, the sad effect of each one imperceptible. But as the years passed numerous minute steps added up to a considerable distance, and the glow emitting from Christ is now dim.
Distancing herself from Christ consequentially distanced Mannie from the Holy Spirit. Which distanced her from the fruit of the Holy Spirit. From love and peace and joy and…..
Denial has become a way of life for Mannie. Her community assures her she is doing okay, and she can see for herself she is keeping up with the crowd. She accepted the notion the exhilaration of rebirth was never meant to be lasting. She must now think ‘dutiful’ and ‘balanced’.
Chatter and activity protect Mannie’s denial from reality. As she slips away from Jesus her talking increases, she listens only to the non-threatening, and spins. Sunday is social day, monday, wednesday and friday afternoons she volunteers at the church library, tuesday is Bible study, thursday she leads the girls in prayer and praise. The in-between times are packed with business concerns and kids concerns.
A. W. T o z e r : It is characteristic of the natural man to keep himself so busy with unimportant trifles that he is able to avoid the settling of the most important matters relating to life and existence. (Who Put Jesus on the Cross)
N E A R
It was five years ago Merf gave his head a shake, said to himself, “What am I doing!?” and turned back to Christ. He had recalled what it was like the early years. The excitement. The feeling real good. Talking to Jesus and the Father throughout the night. Five years ago he somehow learned this was to be a lifestyle, and it was the enemy of his soul who had years ago dropped an otherwise suggestion into his heart.
If it wasn’t for the five a.m. alone time he may still be backsliding. Shortly after discovering Christ, Merf made a commitment to be alone with the Lord for one hour. (So did Mannie, but it was so tempting to snuggle her pillow a little longer, especially on chilly winter mornings.) That hour is what the Holy Spirit needed to re-evangelize Merf, to bring him to repentance and back on track.
What Merf wanted and what Merf got after three years of being ‘back on track’ was the intimacy and enthusiasm he had as a newborn. No, it didn’t come all at once; it doesn’t work that way. He inched away and he had to inch back.
When he got back to where he was at rebirth he happily discovered there was more of Christ to gain, always more. Every year he can look in life’s rear view mirror and know there has been increase. And he is confident next year he will be richer still. But it hasn’t all been roses. Oh, no.
P a u l : All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2Tim. 3:12)
Merf doesn’t fit in anymore. What used to be entertainment isn’t entertainment. What used to be fun isn’t. What satisfied doesn’t. He tried to talk to friends – they couldn’t hear. Talked to ‘his’ pastor – that was a mistake. Look, Merf, about once every two months I get someone in that chair you’re sitting in trying to straighten me out or enlighten me about some revelation they had. I say to you what I’ve said to them, “This isn’t a perfect church and I can’t please everyone. We all have to focus on common ground and tolerate each other’s right to an opinion.” I would suggest you stop making waves and become the team player you used to be.
Mannie will understand, thinks Merf.
Mannie didn’t understand. She took ‘their’ pastor’s side. More, she complained. Marriage isn’t fun anymore. Our friends avoid us. We live separate lives.
Rejection of friends hurt, but Christ was worth it. Pastor was a real hurdle, but Merf would allow the Holy Spirit to comfort him. But Mannie. His wife, life partner, the one he slurped oatmeal with, shooed away mosquitoes on the patio, argued over who should take out the garbage. This was no little crossroad. Hmmm. Christ or Mannie? Mannie or Christ? He loved his wife. And he loved his Christ. Merf thought of Adam. God or Eve? Eve or God? Merf wasn’t going to make Adam’s mistake!
Merf chose Christ over Mannie. And paid the price.
C h a l l e n g e : Will you choose Christ over whatever and whoever and pay the price?
P r a y e r : Jesus, may writer and reader not be ashamed of Your gospel. Deal with idols in our lives. In Your name. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!”)