Saturday, May 11, 2013

Say My Name

As my 33rd birthday recently came and went, I was uncharacteristically peaceful about the uncertain direction of my future.  Although today I know more about where I'm heading, when I started this entry, I didn't have a clue. I was still in the process of praying and trying to understand what had transpired as my best laid plans came unglued. Even now, I know things can change in an instant, and I leave behind me a trail of incomplete projects, manuscripts, and blueprints, yet I know each article of unfinished business is a piece to my life's greater puzzle and God's holy purpose. All too often over the years I've allowed myself to be swept away with who I am in the eyes of fellow men and women rather than resting in whose I am through Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:10).  As the days go by, however, I'm discovering a new confidence in Him that is increasingly unshakable by my life's unknown future and course.  This steadiness was further cemented by an almost unnoticeable verse in the book of 1 Chronicles.  In chapter four, we are given insight into the family lines of Judah and Simeon, but in verse 38, we're told that "these mentioned by name were leaders in their families, and their father’s house increased greatly." All of a sudden, I was engrossed by the four little words "those mentioned by name," as I wondered who wasn't mentioned at all.  What was so special about those mentioned by name, and at the end of the day who do I want to hear say my name?

If you've ever experienced the conviction of the Holy Spirit, then you know how painful it can be when God reveals the truth of our heart's desires and condition.  At a time when I'm closer to the Lord than ever before, it was almost shocking, and painfully humbling, to discover in my prayer time with Him that I could easily be among those to whom Jesus will say in the final day "I never knew you, depart from Me..." (Matt. 7:23). "But Lord, I love You," I whispered, and then He reminded me of the preceding verses: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but (only) he who does the will of my Father in heaven," and it was in this chilling moment that my eyes were suddenly opened to an area of blatant disobedience to my Father.  I had purposefully and willfully refused to do the the will of God in a certain circumstance, and didn't even see it for the rebellion that it was until the Holy Spirit convicted me and removed the veil from my eyes.  Does this mean that my salvation was or is in question? No, when we've truly been born again, our salvation is secure no matter how badly we might fall short on any given day (John 10:28-29; Ephesians 1:4-5; Romans 11:29; John 6:37, 39), and if we're genuinely saved then we will desperately long not to fall short because of our love for Him.  In this particular self-revealing moment of conviction, God was simply showing me not only how I had disobeyed, but also how easy it is for people to believe they're among those going to heaven, when in reality, their name will never be spoken, at least not in the way one would hope.  Rebelling against God and refusing to do His will isn't what will pen our names in His book, and there are a lot of self-professed Christians who will be shocked on the day of judgment to hear Christ say "depart from Me, I never knew you..." because the truth is they were never saved in the first place.  What about you?  Will you be cast from His presence or will He say your name?  Will He tell you to "depart" because He never knew you, nor you Him? Or will He say "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:23)

I'm still not through the struggles of this particular Garden of Gethsemane moment, but I'm finding increased freedom in His presence with every passing day.  Though He is leading me through dark valleys (Psalm 23:4) I know that the crucifixion of my flesh (Gal. 5:24) is a necessary step in moving forward with His plan for my life.  Proverbs 19:21 reminds us that "many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails," and if you want to hear Him say your name on that final day, you may have to change your plans so that His purposes in your life can prevail.  If you plan to continue denying Him as Lord of your life, then keep the world, but know that you will be cast from His presence on the day of judgment. Don't believe in hell? Look around you.  If we serve a just God, and indeed we do (2 Thess. 1:6), then there is most definitely a place where unrepentant sinners will be sentenced, though not by God (2 Peter 3:9) but by their own will.  Matt Slick said it like this - "Denying it or not liking it doesn't mean it isn't real.Hell was originally created for Satan and his angels. In the future it will contain those who join Satan in rejecting God. If you reject God's provision for the forgiveness of your sins, then you will join the devil who rejected God from the beginning. Is that what you want?" Jesus Christ Himself spoke of hell in the Bible, so to deny its existence is to call Him a liar. If that's a risk you're willing to take, then go right ahead, but you better be sure you're right. Erwin Lutzer in The Vanishing Power of Death wrote:

Before Timothy McVeigh was executed, he said he would have plenty of company in hell.  One woman who was interviewed agreed that he would have company there with the likes of Hitler and Stalin.  She was quite correct, but it would be a mistake to think that only such criminals will be in eternal punishment.  Hell will be filled with many who paid their taxes, refused to commit immorality, and were never charged with a crime.  In short, all those who do not come under the protection of  Christ's righteousness will eventually be separated from Him in conscious torment.  That explains why Jesus said that the way to life was narrow and ' only a few find it' (Matthew 7:14)
Don't be wrong about whether or not you are in God's protective hands...Perhaps your are thinking,'I will live as I please and then at the last minute I will say, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."  No, with a few exceptions, you will die as your have lived.  If God is not your Father now, it might well be impossible to accept Him as your Father as death draws near.  We are prepared for heaven when we embrace Christ as our sin bearer, accepting what He did on the cross for ourselves.  Only those who so believe in Jesus can entrust their spirits to the Father with integrity. (pg 154-155)

If your plan is to continue living for yourself, then your plan will ultimately fail. Life isn't about you or me, it's about God.  This world didn't create itself, nor were you born by mere chance.  You have a God-given purpose and destiny, but to walk in it you must change your plan to believe only in that which can be contained within the boundaries of your own intellect, which is limited on even its best day. Or do you think your logical, rational denial of God is all there is?  It's not about who you are or what you know; this life is about whose you are, and as a child created by Yahweh, you need only to receive the gift of salvation and adoption into His Kingdom - not by reason and intellect, but by faith (Eph. 2:8). 

Nothing of Kingdom value ever comes from an easy ride, and sometimes we have to decide whether we want the crown of this world, offered by satan, or the crown of life, offered only by Jesus Christ through testing, trial, and tribulation (James 1:12).  With each passing year, I enter into a realm of new challenges that are harder than before. Though my faith is increased because of the previous year's challenges, it cannot continue to stretch unless I submit to endure for the sake of God's continued purposes. I still find myself fighting against His plans when they conflict with the desires of my flesh, but fortunately His patience and love is perfect even when mine is not.  Often, the most difficult of tasks lie in laying down what we think we know and opening ourselves up to the truth of His Word.  Don't deny Him because your own reasoning concludes His existence an impossibility. Look around.  He's there.  The Bible states in Romans 1:20 that "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse," and in Psalm 19:1: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Creation demands a Creator, so lay down what you think you know, even if only for a moment, and get to know the One who gave you life.  Read the Bible, He's there.  That the world and you in it would have been created out of nothing from years passed - now that is an impossibility, but fortunately for us, we were created with "an everlasting love" and "unfailing kindness" (Jeremiah 31:3).  Get to know this God who loves you so much and longs to have a relationship with you so that at the end of your days, He will say your name.

1 comment:

  1. Heather, you hit the very core of my heart! You are so annointed to speak out for the Lord. You are so gifted in this task. I do not know anyone who can bring it all together in such a way that not only is understandable to the "simple" mind, (me) but with the Biblical verses to correlate (validate) this is the Lord's word. We do all have our OWN jobs to do for His kingdom. And as much as I find myself faceplanted in failure, it is with encouragement from Him through YOU that picks me up out of the mud, brush it off (after complaining first of courSE!) and knowing that convicted in Him does not mean we do not have doubts, fears and struggles, Contrarily. We always will, but with Christ the failures don't leave us empty, they teach us and fill us. Its not an easy lesson and if I could I certainly wouldn't volunteer to be faceplanted, but today these words from your hand, by given by the Holy Spirit, just filled me up so! Thank you, Heather. Amazing servant of Christ!!! xxooD