How's your Monday? Mine is off to a fast start! The weekend was GREAT for me! I had an opportunity to perform for some 20,000 people in Virginia Beach this past Saturday! I'm still on a high from the whole experience! If you're a social media person, my pictures from the whole event are on my Instagram. This week's inbox note is rather personal. I hope you won't mind.
On Friday I sat down with a friend of mine who is pastor. Over a delicious lunch of friend chicken, green beans, cabbage and macaroni and cheese we talked about life and some of the things we had both been experiencing recently. After a while, the conversation took an inevitable turn toward God’s word. My friend Bryan talked about the Bible in a way I’d not heard it discussed before and it really started me thinking.
Bryan said the Word of God gives us the ability to live life in full color. I have to admit, as Bryan talked about this I was intrigued, but I also found myself asking, “what in the world does that even mean?”. I walked away from lunch with a lot of questions. What was this full color life? Was I living it?
Over the weekend I thought about it some more - this living color Bryan had talked about. My mind kept striking on the same Biblical reference, the b section of John 10:10
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
If Jesus comes that we might have life, then it makes sense that we should have him first - and I know that comes by faith. So, I trotted over to Hebrews 11 - the hall of fame for men and women of faith - to investigate a little more about this colorful, vibrant and full life Bryan said the Bible opened for us. Then I started to see it - the common thread in all of this.
Reading through the Hebrews 11 chapter I saw a pattern. These people ran after God with reckless abandon. They took on what seemed to be ridiculous assignments from God. They leaned away from their own understandings, their own emotions, their own pride and ran toward God’s purposes. In the process, their lives became bright and vibrant. Their lives were made vivid by faith! What Bryan said was beginning to make more sense, now! I was beginning to see. One more scripture came to mind:
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
- Romans 10:17.
The vibrance of these people’s lives originated in hearing God’s Word - whether he spoke it to them directly, or they heard it through another channel. It says so right there in the Romans verse! So, here it is, all laid out for us - the way to live a full and vibrant life: 1) hear God's Word 2) trust God's word 3) lean away from yourself (your plans, pride, and practicality) and into him.
I began to think of all the times Jesus told his disciples not to worry about this or that. I began to think about all the impractical things God called people to do. This was the vivid life Bryan was talking about! But, what about me? What about my life? Am I living the vivid life of reckless abandon to God?
I have to be honest. No. I’m not. Well... not really. Sure, there's some color here and there, but I've not yet come to any kind of place that could be described as spiritually vibrant. These days, I don't think a whole lot of us are! We are conditioned to love our comforts and our safety and our security. We say we count on God, but a lot of the time we only pay lip service to mountain-moving faith. Sad but true - if not for you, then me!
The good news is, I’m getting closer and closer to that life of vibrance! Everyday I see new shoots of color springing up as I pray and read and hear from God. My faith is growing! He is teaching me to rely on him. It is beautiful, but not easy and very uncomfortable sometimes. Nonetheless, Jesus says this is the good life. I’m beginning to see it that way, too, more and more.
I’ve been reading a biography about George Mueller, a German preacher who opened orphanages in England in the 19th century. He began his ministry of rescuing orphans with two purposes: 1) to see to it that orphan children would have a place to grow and learn that was safe and suitable, and 2) to prove that faithful prayer worked.
Mueller started his first orphanage with little more than a shilling to his name. He never asked anyone for money. He promised God that he never would. He only prayed for what he needed and God provided it. Sometimes God took care of the needs of the orphanage week by week. Sometimes he did it day by day; even hour by hour, but he never failed. Mueller’s orphanage would expand from one house with 30 children, to two with 96 children to three with 150 children - all this within the first 5 years. Before it was all done, George Mueller would build orphanages to house and care for more than 2,000 children at a time. He never asked anyone for a penny. He proved his point. God is faithful! Talk about a colorful life!
I feel pulled toward this kind of vibrant life. God hasn’t given me any grandiose George Mueller instructions, like “build an orphanage.” However, I know he is preparing in me a deep trust in him. I’m praying about things with a new gusto. Some of these things I’ve been praying about for weeks, months - even years. Not until now have I been to a place where I am truly starting to rest in God to do these things. Not until now have I begun to surrender my ideas about how things should be done and when and how it should look when it is being done and how it should look afterward.
What I am finding is that with every little bit I surrender, I see a few more shoots of color in my life. My hands are less full with plans and schemes and worries. This isn’t to say that I don’t have to work hard or think. Quite the contrary. I think even these first few steps toward this this vibrant life reveal that trusting God establishes the work and intensifies the focus required to do it. It is teaching me to work with what is before me today. It is teaching me to follow Jesus’ advice and let tomorrow be tomorrow.
In the ears of the world around us, this kind of trust in God rings as foolishness. God’s word gives us a heads up that this kind of life will always sound foolish to people without faith. But we who have even the slightest embers of trust in God are invited to step out of the gray of the world we live in. God invites us to step into the vibrance of his kingdom - the kingdom that Jesus over and over again declared is right here, at hand.
David raised his cup and gave a toast, extoling the deliciousness of life given to absolute trust in God:
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
- Psalm 34:8
Blessed, indeed! Everyday, I relish those words a little bit more. Everyday I trust him a little bit more. Everyday he lets me taste just a bit more of his goodness as he draws me! I join David in his toast to the astonishing goodness of God! I raise my cup with him saying those same beautiful words, “Taste and see!”
Here’s to the good life! Here's to a life in living color!
- How do I define security? What makes me feel secure?
- Can I think of instances where I’ve taken incredible risks on a whim or impulse, knowing I was wrong? If so, how / why is my response to risky instructions from God different?
- What are my biggest barriers to living a truly colorful life? Impatience? Doubt? Pride? Something else?
- Can I think of something God is calling on me to do right now that I am resisting because it doesn’t make sense to me?
- Who do I know that I can look toward as an encouraging example of living life in strong faith and utter dependence on God?