God has given me an incredible gift and sharing it with you is a privilege. God brought me from a nomadic, hippie lifestyle to being a successful attorney blessed with three amazing children. He reached out and rescued my mother and father from a destructive lifestyle and completely changed the course of my life. My parents were typical hippies–we didn’t go to school much, lived in teepees and school buses. Drugs and marijuana were commonplace, not much structure, mostly on the move from state to state… we children were headed down a precarious path.
Then, God intervened. We lived in the middle of nowhere in a place with no electricity and this man of God showed up and told my mother about the gift of salvation. Both my parents accepted the gift of Jesus and, although I didn’t accept the gift right away, the course of my life was changed forever. So, what is this gift? To understand this gift, it is helpful to know why we need it. Otherwise, we may not recognize it as a gift.
Let me first explain that we are created in the image of God which means, that unlike animals, we have the ability to have a relationship with God. That need for God has been characterized as having a God-shaped hole in our hearts. We know death of this body is not the end because God designed us with that knowledge. People are designed to be incurably religious–we all worship something. What is the object of our worship? Whatever motivates us to live, hope and act.
Objects of worship take many forms–drugs, work, relationships, wealth–in short–anything that we lie for at all costs–what is important to us–that is our god. It can be anything. Most of us can look at a drug addict or alcoholic and readily understand that their addiction has driven them to heartache–lost of family, friends, job… ultimately their freedom or their life. But the addict will tell you that they didn’t begin the addiction thinking it would end that way. However, these addictions are no different than someone addicted to the pursuit of wealth, power, a relationship, or their work.
Anything can become our obsessions–our god–what we spend most of our time thinking about and doing. We spend entire lifetimes in pursuit and become enslaved to serving these pursuits. While being a workaholic may not land you in jail or end your life, the truth is you can still be shackled by it; and death, of course, comes to all. So, if everyone ultimately served a god (even laziness can dominate our lives and become an addiction that drives us to poverty), which god should we choose? Which god will bring us joy and freedom?
I have had several gods over my lifetime. My obsession with being accepted and loved was god that drove me to sacrifice much and hurt many people. It was more important than my relationship with God. I spent countless hours every day: thinking about ways I could win favor, spending time doing fun activities, improving myself ti win favor, making myself available for needs, etc. None of these things are bad in and of themselves, however, they were all for the goal of making me look better in the eyes of others.
I was a slave to the wishes of everyone around me, their opinions, their needs, etc. God finally showed me that my friends are imperfect like I am and although they love me, no one loves me like He does. I was searching for this unconditional love–but no one else can give that except God. I spent years of time and energy, bad decisions, enslaved to pursuing something that could never fill that God-shaped hole in my heart. This misplaced pursuit of human love is just as destructive as the behavior of a workaholic or an alcoholic-looking for happiness from objects or people who can never give it to you–because they are incapable of doing so.
As state earlier, we are designed with a need for God. For example, a trust is designed to run on gasoline and be driven on land. If a truck is field by milk, it will not run. Additionally, one cannot expect to drive it on a lake–it is simply not designed for that purpose. We are designed by a Perfect Designer–He created us in His image and He knows best what we need. Most of all He knows we need Him. Just as the designer of the truck knows better than anyone what fuel, maintenance and conditions will exact the best performance–so does God, who is our Designer knows what is best for us.
So, why is it we choose something or someone to worship other than God? It is because we deny reality. First, we deny the reality that we need God. The truth is we are all in trouble. “All have sinner and come short of the Glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Second, we refuse to acknowledge the consequences of our trouble: “…the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23) Third, we think we need to make ourselves good enough for God, but we fail to remember: “…by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) Finally, we try to make it complicated when it is so simple that even a small child can have a relationship with God: “…whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16b)
For years, I tried to make myself good enough to come to God and ask Him to save me–I was going to help Him! But God doesn’t work that way. The truck is incapable of fueling itself and thus being useful. We cannot help God save us because we are already sinners. A person who is in jail for a crime cannot get himself out; nor can he get anyone else out. It takes intervention by someone on the outside. We are condemned by our own sin; “…he that believeth not is condemned…” (John 3:18) Therefore, we need someone who is not condemned to save us from condemnation. There is only One who has lived as a human and not sinned, and thus, is qualified to save us: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Belief in God is not difficult–but it requires faith. We put faith in things every day. When you sit in a chair, you typically do so without worrying it will collapse; when you take a flight, you do with without understanding the intricacies of the airplane or the qualifications of the pilot. These are small examples of how we exercise faith every day. But, when it comes to God, we always have excuses about why we don’t believe and trust in Him to save us. Some common excuses are: “the church is full of hypocrites,” or, “I am not ready yet–I’ll wait until I am older so I can do all the fun stuff I want to while I am young.” Even if the church is full of hypocrites, why would you rob yourself of a relationship with God based upon a hypocrite who obviously doesn’t have a relationship with God either? That is like being offered a free trip to Hawaii and saying you aren’t going because you know someone who is from Hawaii and he is a sad, mean person. Everyone knows Hawaii is amazing… but you are refusing a great gift because someone who claims to be Hawaiian has soured it for you. That is a lame excuse. Most of our excuses for not believing in God are silly…the truth is that we don’t want to believe in God because we are afraid He will make us do something we don’t want to do. That is because we don’t really know him. As a mother, I believe I love my children…I would do anything for them. So, this verse helped me see God’s love: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to home that ask him.” (Matthew 7:11) I recognized the depth of my love for my children…and how shallow it was when compared to God’s love for me to give Himself to me. When I finally realized that He who created everything and designed me, clearly knows how to make me happy, it was such freedom. I remember the day I finally told God that I trusted Him to save me. It was like a great burden lifted off me. I didn’t have to worry bout dying because I knew that hone I died, I would be with my Father. And, equally freeing–I could rejoice in living–no matter how big the trials were because I was on God’s team!
Even though God saved the eternal part of me (my soul and spirit) and I will be with Him someday in Heaven; I still commit sins because my body is sinful. Each of us have our weaknesses that we will struggle with until this body dies. However, the better I get to know God by spending time with Him because I’m busy, right? But, that brings back to the beginning… what do we worship? What are we constantly busy with? Is the workaholic, the alcoholic, the desire to be popular or wealthy? Everyone fights this battle. We shouldn’t pretend that we don’t. It is a daily necessity to cultivate our relationship with God (our best friend) just like we eat, breathe, drink, bathe, work and do all the other necessary things.
So, the gift I wish to share with you is two-fold. First, if you are reading this and have never asked Jesus to save you, then ask yourself: “What are you waiting for?” We are not promised one more minute of time. Most of you know someone who dies suddenly and unexpectedly. It could happen to you. The thief on the cross was dying and he got the chance to go to Heaven when he believed in the Son of God. You may not be so lucky if you wait. Acknowledge you are a sinner and that you need Jesus to save you and ask Him. Have faith that He can and will do it–He deserves our faith more than a chair or an airplane does–He created everything, including you!
Second, if you are already a believer, then ask yourself: “What am I living for every day?” This is a daily challenge for us all. I ask God to wake me up every day and remind me to focus on what is important. Whether you are the Christian who has walked the straight and narrow, or you are the Christian, like me, who is scarred from her own sin–God loves you more than you can fathom and wants you to have the joy and perfect peace that comes from a life fueled by Him. If you are reading this from a jail, a bar, in a war zone, or in your home–God wants you to know you can have perfect peace. He can and will give it to those who want it enough to seek it and trust Him to give it.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusted in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3)