I had the most beautiful time of worship recently. It had to be one of the most authentic times of worship that I’ve had in a very long time. It was a beautiful Palm Sunday. My alarm rang at 7:30, beckoning me to GET UP. I’m not a fan of mornings, so I desperately wanted to silence it and sleep another 45 minutes before the “getting ready grind” HAD to commence. I drug my lazy self out of bed because I smelled coffee brewing in the kitchen (thanks to my handsome hubby). I poured myself a cup of joe, grabbed my Bible and favorite cozy blanket, and I nestled into the couch, ready to prepare my heart for a Sunday of worship. I spent some time in prayer and read through a chapter in the Gospel of Luke. Then I heard a pitter patter of tiny footsteps coming my way. My baby boy came in, and he was saying “Mommy! Bible!” Smart boy. I WAS reading my Bible! So we grabbed up his Jesus Storybook Bible, and lo and behold the child who never sits still sat there with me, allowing me to read TWO Bible stories to him. It was a miracle! He and I prayed, and then it was time to get ready! Let me tell you something ladies… this is not an every day ritual for me because like I said… I hate mornings. BUT this set my heart up for some authentic worship I was about to have during our service. THAT is worth getting up for. Meeting with our sweet Jesus sets us up for our day, sets our hearts on worship, and refocuses our minds on what is truly important. That is seriously worth the maddening alarm every morning.
SO back to this day… service was focused on the death of Jesus, His sacrifice, and His love for us. It was great, but I can guarantee our church service was not the reason I was able to encounter Jesus quite like I did this morning. As my heart and mind were already focused, the words of the songs were especially meaningful. The focus on the cross and Jesus’ huge love for us was clearer to me. I wept as I thought about Jesus looking over Jerusalem, knowing He had come and the people were MISSING it. They didn’t understand who He was. They didn’t care. They were quick to chastise Him. They were more interested in the entertainment of His miracles rather than the message of them. They were face to face with the Messiah, and most of them missed it. I wept because I think we miss it so often. I miss it so often. I cried out to Jesus, “I DON’T WANT TO MISS IT. I don’t want to be part of the crowd that MISSES IT.” We don’t always understand that we are truly able to have daily encounters with Jesus, before His face, watching His power unfold in our lives. We don’t take His call to “love the widow, the sick, the poor” seriously. We don’t love God and love our neighbor. We continually step into church, looking for a “fill me up” service, only to never pour out on others. We don’t serve with our brothers and sisters. We get caught up in meetings, dirty diapers, sporting events, cooking, cleaning, laundry, studying, and we don’t even bat an eye toward those who need Jesus… or even toward Jesus Himself. I’m GUILTY.
We have gotten caught up in the machine. The machine of selfishness. We prayed a prayer to “become Christians” but we don’t really feel the need to take up our cross daily and follow Christ. Surely, He didn’t REALLY mean everything He said in the scriptures. Surely it isn’t true when He says, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25). Surely I can continue in this sin, in this negative relationship, in this partying lifestyle because “God’s grace will cover me.” This is cheapening and taking advantage of His sacrifice and grace. Are these really marks of a believer?
Maybe Jesus was serious when He said we must give EVERYTHING we have to follow Him. Maybe He really meant all those things He said in the Gospels about grace and love and service. Maybe He really meant we must give Him our whole entire lives. Maybe He meant it when He said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few,” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Oh, how my heart has been burdened lately. I don’t want to miss it. I want to take Jesus’ words seriously. I don’t know how exactly my life needs to change to better love my neighbors quite yet, but I do know that I need to do the next right thing. As soon as God reveals to me how to better love my neighbor like Jesus did, I need to be obedient. Let me tell you… I’m so far from perfect. I don’t have it together. I don’t heed Jesus’ instructions like I should. My life sometimes looks like I’m all about me. But as I continue to discover what a true follower of Jesus looks like, I pray He gives me the ability to follow Him boldly and fiercely.
And if you feel this same war inside yourself that I feel, let me share some words from the book “7″ by Jen Hatmaker with you:
“I don’t think God wants you at war with yourself. He sent the Prince of peace to soothe those tumultuous waters already. Self-deprecation is a cruel response to Jesus, who died and made us righteous. Guilt is not Jesus’ medium. He is battling for global redemption right now; His objective hardly includes huddling in the corner with us, rehashing our shame again. He finished that discussion on the cross. Plus, there’s no time for that. We’re so conditioned to being a problem that we’ve forgotten we’re actually the answer.”
So, now’s the time. Time to step up and be the Church Christ calls us to be. We’ve got to lay aside our guilt and move forward. Let’s serve the least of these together.