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Holding God at arm’s length?

What is going on in our world is no joke. Thankfully, God promises he will never leave us, but it seems like many of us leave him on the shelf. O, how we need him, Friends, to lead and guide us throughout each day and to speak to us from his Word.

What we read in our Bibles, hear from our pastors or priests cannot just be head knowledge. We must take what Jesus teaches and do it -- that is, take the Scriptures and apply them in our lives, loving and serving others in the ways that we are able. After all, we Christians are the only representatives Christ has on this earth.

Two more briefings from Long Beach to make a couple points.

I count it a privilege to have served the mentally ill, former criminals, homeless folk, addicts and a street-worn Vietnam vet named the Duke of Earl; they taught me a lot. One day at the Basement Gathering, I was teaching a lesson about Jesus’ growing up years, raising questions about what Jesus knew when, what his brothers and sisters thought being raised with him. Scripture gives us vague notions about Jesus’ existence before he began his teaching and move toward the cross. I wondered aloud: 'Did Jesus have friends from his village he played with as a child? Did any girls have a crush on him? Jesus was a carpenter/stone mason, so when he smacked his thumb with a hammer, did he holler? What would it have been like to be Jesus’ brother? John 17.5 tells us that Jesus’ brothers didn’t believe in him; not even when he launched his earthly ministry. Don’t you think that must have been hurtful to Jesus? They eventually believed that Jesus was the Messiah—their Messiah, but not until after the Resurrection.'

So on that day we talked about these variables, and I had the Duke of Earl’s rapt attention. Yes, he was back, and politely raised one long finger with a question, ‘When did Jesus know he was God? Do you think he told his brothers then?’ That blew the discussion wide open. Fascinating, it was, as folks around the big old room joined in and then we prayed together to end.

After I said ‘Amen’, the Duke came up and asked, ‘Am I doing better?’

‘What do you mean?’ I turned and looked at him.

‘You know…participating?’

‘Oh yes,’ I said, ‘and you have valuable things to say. People listen to you.’

‘Something’s happening to me,’ he said, with a kind of far-off look on his face.

‘I’m changing. I’m a Jonah, you know,’ and I instantly knew he meant - he was running from God. ‘I’ve done a pretty good job staying away, and then you came along… and now something’s happening—he’s trapping me.’

‘Duke, he’s not trapping you; God is coming after you because he loves you and he wants you back. So are you going to just keep running--are you?’

‘I don’t know, I guess I’m afraid I just can’t do it… what if I can’t do it?

By that, he meant he was afraid he couldn’t stay faithful, and he knew better than to play around with God.

‘You can do it, Duke. One day at a time, you can do it--with God’s help, by God’s grace.’

Duke no longer wanted to hold God at arm’s length, but wondered if he could stay faithful. I’ve had similar conversations with others who don’t think they can stay the course in walking with God. And so, they kind of leave God at arm’s length. Please do not be content with that! You are missing out, if you do. Tell God you want to come home. He is waiting. If you have the desire, He will give you the strength to be faithful one day at a time.

Why not Come As You Are? song:


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