Up front…my apologies for the title today. That is usually the hardest part of writing this <3
I seem to post late in the day in this current season. Our lives have resumed some normal activities but it seems everything takes longer with lines and adjustments to hours of operation and such. It can be a tiny bit (ok… a lot a bit) frustrating to complete errands and appointments.
As I was driving north early in the morning Thursday, I was praying and talking to God and had a Hillsong CD playing. In between my petitions and questions and thanksgiving, I would listen to the songs and one in particular caught my attention.
The song is called “New Wine” and the lyrics are beautiful and poignant and oh so spiritual. They are all about offering ourselves in surrender and understanding that like grapes, we will need to be changed in substance in order to produce the desired “new wine.” As I hummed along and agreed that I wanted God to bring about the necessary changes in me that rid me of my old nature and help me put on Christ, I was reminded of times as a young teen sitting with my parents on Sunday mornings in the Methodist Church we attended.
I always marveled as we read the prayers printed in the bulletin that we were corporately asking God for some pretty serious disciplining. There were times I would stop reading because I didn’t want to have Him answer some of the things that were printed there. I was a teen ager with a whole lot of life ahead of me and living under a pretty strict set of rules laid down by a retired Air Force colonel and his equally “let’s all just follow the rules and everything will turn out fine” wife.
At that time of spiritual immaturity, the idea of asking God to take away whatever He wanted and lead me wherever He wanted and, by the way, I give You free access to all my earthly possessions to do with as You please….well…I knew even then He hears our prayers and responds. I wasn’t quite ready to uphold my end of the bargain. It always surprised me when the adults around me who had prayed those prayers got upset later in the week when they were answered.
So as I listened and agreed with the lyrics to the New Wine song, I had to admit that I still don’t love the idea of being crushed. That’s what happens to grapes when you make wine, you know. And I don’t think I am alone in that. I fear the Church of Jesus Christ, at least here in America, is longing for a time gone by when being a Christian (as long as you weren’t too passionate or weird about it of course….) was considered a good moral, American choice. It was aligned with patriotism and apple pie and all that good stuff that used to make up commercials and family television shows.
Those days are gone, friends and even if Covid ended tomorrow, they are not coming back. And I don’t think that is such a bad thing.
I am not sure it was what Jesus meant when He said we should die to ourselves and that we might want to consider the cost of following Him. I don’t think it is what the disciples felt when they cowered in an upper room waiting for whatever it was Jesus had told them to wait for and I don’t think it was on the mind of John as he was banished to Patmos or Peter as he hung upside down on a cross, unworthy to die like Jesus had.
We are in strange times and we are being tested and refined. We are being asked how committed we are to stand when no one else around us is…or we are being hated for it.
Now more than ever we need to dust off those Bibles and see what we have been given as teachings for such a time as this.
The current setting of our world has not taken God by surprise. He actually told us it would happen and instead of freaking out, we should be standing firm.
In the crushing…in the pressing…He has given us words of hope, direction, comfort and wisdom.
He has not changed. He is faithful.
We may be near the end or there may be generations before Christ returns, but you and I need to be what He called us to be today. Here and now. Not when the Church is in favor and not when all the culture lines up with how we think and believe.
Each one of us, individually, will stand before God one day to answer…did you lay it all down for Me? Because He laid Himself down for you. As things heat up, don’t abandon Him. He is faithful. I urge you to pray for yourself, me and all believers to remain faithful. Not to a cause, not to an agenda, not to a political party but faithful to Christ Jesus who died for you.
We must continue to encourage one another, even as the Day approaches <3
You are loved more than you could ever know.