Thursday, January 13, 2011

Time to use your get out of jail free card

Back when Gene & I got married I had a friend of mine take our pictures. Her name is Deb and she's a nurse who I worked side by side for an entire year before my wedding day took place. Her hobby was taking pictures so I asked if she would photgraph our wedding.

One thing about Deb that everyone knew without a doubt was that she loves Jesus Christ. Her life had only one center and it was Jesus. All of her activities she enjoyed centered around Him, her speech centered around Him and she had no hesitancy in sharing Him with anyone.

I'll never forget this moment between us at my reception that followed the wedding. After a Christ centered wedding ceremony, Deb said, "Lelia, I didn't know you were a Christian!"
I couldn't believe she just said that to me! Not that I thought she was rude, but it's like looking at someone dressed up at the circus in big shoes, a wig, make-up and a big red nose and saying, "I didn't know you were a clown!" After the quick jolt of shock wore off I said, "What? Deb, I've been a Christian since 2nd grade!"

That short conversation never left me.
And what I realized is that Deb was looking at my life and not seeing Jesus in me. At. All.
Not one time in a year did she see Jesus Christ as the center of my life.
And it wasn't like I was choosing to keep Jesus as my best kept secret...I wasn't choosing Him at all and my life showed His absence. How dare I make my wedding about someone I hadn't even invited into my marriage.
Deb's revelation grieved me so deeply that I gave my life back over to Him.
Her words to me that day is a sentence I don't ever want to be my truth again.

Did I have times after that of turning my back on Him?
Yes, I still made bad choices, but each time I was His Prodigal, it was Him Who I missed and returned to and it was Jesus Who forgave me.

This morning my heart is weighed down for those who at one point chose Jesus as their Savior, but then like I did, they chose the world over Him and off they went.
And soon, instead of Him being their everything, He became related to nothing more than a check mark on a paper inquiring of their choice of religion. __X_Christian  ___Hindu ___Muslim

This morning I asked God to give me something in His Word to read and this is what I opened up to.
 I cannot tell you how He spoke to my heart through it...

1 Kings 8:46-50 (NIV)
“When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near; 47 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; 48 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; 49 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. 50 And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy;

Life without Jesus Christ as the center of your life, is living in bondage.
Recently someone we know was in jail and one thing they said was, "The toilet didn't even have a lid".
No privacy, no toilet lid, clothing marked with Lancaster County Jail on the back, handcuffs, shackled, discomfort, shame, embarrassment,...not the way a daughter or son of a King should be living. And it didn't matter that this person's family hated to see them go through this. Just because their parents wanted to step in and save their day, the parents had no say so in the matter. It was all up to the judge and also the person behind bars had to make different choices. The same way when I was away from Jesus. My parents could pray me up, but returning to Him had to be my choice.

Once we ask Christ into our life it's amazing how by choice we want to see how far we can push away God and still claim Christianity as our way of life. Maybe we hope He won't notice. Or perhaps we are so into the world that we think the things we choose over Christ won't effect our relationship with Him. The thing is, Jesus is not a choice of religion. 

Every time we treat Jesus Christ as a religion, it's as if we're clutching His crown of thorns while walking through life our way and we don't even realize we have His blood on our hands because our grip on the world is so tight.

The prince of darkness does not want you to return to your Heavenly Father, but I encourage you today if you are living a life apart from Jesus to run back to Him. You will be amazed by His love for you.
He outweighs anything the devil makes look good in this world.

Stop living a life of captivity and instead choose the freedom of a King that chose death on a cross over the comfort of His throne.
He loves you that much.
No matter what kind of past or present you have, He is bigger than all of it.
Go home.



Laura said...

Hello, my friend! This is such an awesome story. You know how I love your stories ;). It makes me look deeper at my life and ask myself the same question: How am I reflecting Jesus in my everyday? Whew. That's a tough one, Lelia.

Thank you for sharing this, sweet sister. I"m excited for your Bible study to start! I wish I could participate, just like the old days. Time is harder to manage for me these days. But I'll stop by and soak in some of Lysa's wisdom through your posts from time to time, ok?

Love you!

Mildred said...

I enjoy reading your blog and I am now following it. Would love to have you visit my blog I will be writing more soon so please keep on coming back. Thank you!

Rena said...

What a great post!

Paula (SweetPea) said...

Awesome, Lelia. Convicting. Even if we've run back to Jesus we can still hold back things. Releasing them all to Him. Giving it all up to Him, surrendering to Him.

What I wouldn't give to be a representative of Christ the way Deb was/is and to not have my relationship with Christ ever be a question. Wow.

"Once we ask Christ into our life it's amazing how by choice we want to see how far we can push away God and still claim Christianity as our way of life. Maybe we hope He won't notice."

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

love this Lelia - i think that there are so many of us guilty of this at one time or another. we should always be reflecting Christ - always.

this is a good reminder for us to make sure that we are exhibiting His glory to others in all that we do and say.

love to you!