Sunday, April 24, 2011

On Changing Paths


I've recently changed paths. Some of my friends are aware of this, others not so much. It's not really something you'd be able to see from a distance or ascertain from observation. I've had my ups and downs in the process, of which it's only been about a week now. And today, being Easter Sunday has been particularly difficult for some reason.
Perhaps it's because I don't like Easter any more than I like Christmas? Christmas is to me, quite bogus in a lot of ways. Jesus was no more born on December 25th than there is a man in the moon. Reasonable consideration bears this out. Yes, I know – the day of His birth is a day worth celebrating, but why the 25th of December? There are a lot of reasons, but lets' just boil it down to tradition, shall we, and with that be satisfied? And besides, the whole commercialization of the Reason for the Season just turns me off.
So, how does this loathing of Christmas relate to Easter? It is, after all, a much better season and is more accurately based in truth. Well, reason #1: the Bunny Hoppers. And I'm not just talking about the Cadbury Bunny, either. I'm also referring to all of the people who make Easter the second (or only) day they show up at church. Yeah, that's right: I don't like hypocrites any more than the lost man who stays away from church because of the hypocrites that show up every Sunday. Reason #2: the commercialization of the season, which gets back to the same thread I have regarding Christmas. Reason #3, the sermons. I must confess, they're usually well chosen and well presented for the Bunny Hoppers, but I also happen to dislike pageants in church too. Those things have their place, but I'm pretty much over them. And besides, the Easter Sunday sermons are extremely important – for the Bunny Hoppers. But I've heard them before, and since I believe the salvation work of God cannot be undone, I'm a once saved, always saved kind of guy, ergo, salvation sermons don't provide much edification to me.

The Ministry

But I don't think Easter is my problem. It has to do with this whole changing path thing. It has a lot to do with leaving behind those things which keep us in bondage, those things which we so dearly love to treasure and pet. The hurtful process is learning that you've got something in your life that you actually love more than God. And when that thing turns out to be The Ministry, well that when it all really starts to suck rotten eggs. You see, I like a good debate. I like being right, though contrary to the popular belief of some, I am right a lot of the time. It's a pity though, that some only saw an attack where I was only trying to present my side of the argument. But looking back, that pulling away appears to have been what I needed.

Hearing from God

Do you have an iPod? I do. I really like the thing too. It's an older model with only 32GB of space, that's enough to hold a huge amount of songs, the entire spoken KJV and more sermons than you can shake a stick at. I even have an adapter for the car, so I just keep the thing plugged in, unless I'm syncing new music or sermons. The adapter for the iPod plugs into a special purpose auxiliary port on the stereo, and the adapter understands specially named play lists, which the stereo interprets as CD discs. As you might imagine, I have play lists for the Bible, Sermons and various types of music. Although the car stereo recognizes six discs, the interface module to the car only recognizes 5 play lists. That leaves one disc unassigned, or so we thought.

The God Track

My wife and I talk about God and scripture a lot. We talk a lot when driving too, when going here or there on various errands, travels and dates. Surprisingly, those errands and dinner dates are among the sweetest times we have in the Lord. But there is one interesting thing we have discovered about how God chooses to work in our lives, or should I say better, reinforce those things He is teaching us through His word.
We'll be driving along, discussing this or that thing about God or the Bible with the stereo and the iPod both turned off. And then with no inference from us, the car or the road (the roads are pretty good where we live) the stereo and the iPod will turn on, as if an Angel pushed the 'on' button and reset the iPod track. Every single time this has happened it has always started playing some seemingly random Christian worship song or a sermon or a section of Scripture. And without fail, the thing it started playing has always spoken directly to a need we were discussing. We've seen it do this when we were dealing with betrayal, when we were battling cancer and when we felt lost in our walk. Never has it turned on (by itself) when what played next did not meet or reinforce some critical need in our lives. It's done it while we're together and while we're apart. Hopefully, you can understand why we have learned to refer to this happening as the God Track.

Getting to Know Him

So, we went to lunch on this particular Easter Sunday and headed off to the store to buy groceries. The day before we had been listening to Kari Jobes' "Revelation Song," over and over again – we had it on repeat, as a matter of fact. I think we listened to it probably a dozen times that day. We got into the car and went to lunch and the stereo was off. It's a 5 minute trip to the diner, and it was another 15-20 minute trip to the store. On our way back home my wife was especially tuned into my in-the-dumps spirit, and she was trying to encourage me. She was re-enforcing our need to not focus on externals, such as The Ministry, or whatever else it is we like to put before God. She was speaking directly to my new path, I knew this, but I was still feeling somewhat depressed. It's a normal part of the process, I've learned. There are some hurtful things that God will simply take away from you, but there are other things that He allows you the space to work through, a process to learn so that we can comfort others.
As we were pulling into the driveway, we had both reached the conclusion that seeking Him first is the only solution, the only viable lifestyle, the only way to be of any use to Him. And then God track started playing. And we listened to hear what it was. The first verse seemed innocuous, but then came the chorus:
The reason we're here and the reason we sing,
Is to thank you O God and give Praise to the King.
And then my wife reached up and turned off the 'repeat' button, as it had been set from the previous day.
And that's it. That's the path. The rest is just gravy, but don't seek the gravy. We would do good to remember and live His words:
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)

No comments:

Breaking Your Jesus Paradigm

Pastors have taught a simple understanding of Jesus for hundreds of years - perhaps even thousands of years. That simple understanding is ...