Wednesday, June 24, 2015

May the Engine of My Life be the Glory of God

No one understands me.
No one is as dedicated to God as I am.
No one seems to care about Him like I do.

Have you ever had similar thoughts about yourself? I've had a few ponderings on this blog about loneliness and solitude before. I've often had long thoughts about my entire life and how things have coalesced throughout my days. I don't know about you, but I see a pattern about myself. It intrigued me enough to blog about it and find out how many others, if any, might agree with me.

At one time or another, we have all felt like loners. We might have a certain hobby or interest that others don't share. Maybe depression isolates us. Perhaps we live alone. Maybe we lost someone close to us. Our parents don't understand us. Our spouses are clueless. Our friends are selfish. There are many ways to feel like a loner or an outcast. However, for a certain kind of people, this seems to be the brew that raises up many an introvert - those who thrive on their own company and feel drained by the company of others.

The Good Lord has a place for all kinds of personality types at His table, but it would seem the introverts are His closest friends. The Puritans spent many long hours pouring over the Word of God in their studies. Men like Jonathan Edwards did the same. Spurgeon spent countless hours writing, editing, studying, and reading for the Lord. Tozer and Lewis also prefered the four walls of their libraries to worldly interaction. Down through the ages, you can spot them if you know what to look for. Men and women who lock themselves away, who feel uncomfortable in social circles, and yet, despite their solitude, they end up doing amazing things for the Kingdom of God.

These are the thinkers, the ones who spend time with Jesus. And not just "some" time, but a lot of time. Most of their time. They get what Paul meant when he said "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). Jesus is not an untouchable deity but a magnificent reality in their lives. He walks with them in the cool of the day. He is the driving force of their existence. There's something different about these people. Just being around them makes one want to be a better person. Others start guarding their mouths. In fact, some might actually become happier in their presence, and find the fog of their own reality lifts just a bit. Why is that?

All my life, I've been odd. Odd for God. Whenever I got my allowance, I went to the Christian bookstore and bought some new cassette or poster. The walls of my room were covered with Jesus. My favorite movies were The Ten Commandments and Jesus of Nazareth. I only listened to Christian music. I wore Christian t-shirts, and once drew an epic, awesome Lion of Judah on the back of my jean jacket (I still daydream about that thing). I drew crosses on my book covers and assignments. I got baptized, went to Christian concerts, and Harvest Crusades. Named most of my children with names from the Bible, and even throughout my time in the wilderness away from God, I never stopped listening to my music or praying (somewhat tepidly). Now, I have this blog, I minister on Facebook, and I've written a couple of books for Jesus. The walls of my house are still decorated with Him, and loud Christian music flows from my car windows.

But more than all of this outward Christian fluff, my heart has always been set on a singular course. The only star in my sky is the Bright and Morning Star. I have had many loves, but the Love of my life is Jesus Christ. There has been none more faithful, more peaceful, or more awe-inspiring than the One who sits upon the Throne of Grace. Without our hearts in tune with His, everything we do is vanity. It wouldn't matter how many concerts I attended or how many books I've written. If my heart isn't right with God, it isn't right.

And therein lies the conundrum for the Christian introvert. While many Christians have a right heart toward God, there are only a scant few who actively pursue Him. We beat our drums, we send up our prayers, we praise the Living God, but for whatever reason, likely His reason alone, our faith goes deeper than the superficial. We want more than praise songs, more than sermons. We want more than missions, more than Bible studies. At the heart of it all, we want to know CHRIST and Him crucified.

I have a saying that just came to me one day during my private prayer time and it was so deep, I shared it with my Facebook and Twitter followers. It reads, "May the engine of my life be the glory of God." How many Christians can actually claim that over their own lives? Is the driving force behind all you do done for GOD'S glory? Is it really? This is the essence of 1 Corinthians 10:31.

I may not have always been a shining example of Christ to the world, and those closest to me know how often I've let them down in one way or another. But it's this "otherness" toward God that I've always had, a desire to push, to know, to glorify. A need to pursue, to understand, to exemplify. I suppose the Scriptures would call this "hungering and thirsting for righteousness". This is more than claiming to be Christian and surfing the waves of salvation - this is deep-sea diving and bringing up pearls and sunken treasure. This is a willingness to plunder the depths, breadths, and heights of God in a way no one else seems to dare. Far beyond what He can give us is the drive to obtain HIM and no other.

And that brings us to the main thrust of this post, what I have been mulling over for a few days now.

We are all made righteous in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), and we are all holy in the sense that we're set apart in God, by God, and for God. But there's a handful of Christians who truly do consecrate themselves actively, not passively. God seems to grant them the grace to long for and pant after holiness, which sets themselves further apart, even from other Christians.

THIS is the golden thread woven down throughout all the days of my life. In my salvation, I was made holy, set apart in God through Christ Jesus our Lord. Throughout my sanctification, I am made holy by God and through the power of His grace. Why? For what purpose? So that I may be made holy FOR God, to be holy as He is holy.

This world is a vastly UNholy place. When true holiness takes root, people notice. It's strange, this holiness. It's laughable, terrible, and beautiful all rolled up into one. The world doesn't know what to do with holiness. So they either revere it, are speechless by it, or shun it altogether. This is why people's attitudes change when they're in the presence of holiness.

God has me on a very specific path to know Him, one that others have trod. But since we're so few and far between, we can sometimes feel alone. Brethren, you are NOT alone. You are not awkward, strange, or foolish to want more of God - you are HOLY, set apart for the Master's use. Everyone who has ever pursued God in Scripture has been on their own holy path. The prophets were alone. John the Baptist was alone. The Apostle Paul knew he was different than everyone else. I'm sure he felt alone. John the Apostle was definitely alone. And then there's Jesus - who's the holiest of any of us, and He made it a point to be alone, and not just "alone", but alone with God.

Holiness is more than doing good deeds. Often we think of it as such. But it's much more living and active than that. It's deliberately grabbing a hold of God and not letting go until He reveals Himself to you, like Jacob who wrestled with Him. You will not leave the fight unscathed. Neither did Jacob; he walked with a limp for the rest of his life. But as the Michael Card lyrics go, "Pain's the path to blessing - Love will fight us to be found". 

God calls every believer to be holy at this level. And while we are all made righteous in Christ, only a few step out of the boat. Only a few are called up to the Mount of Transfiguration. Those of us who desire to lean our heads upon Yeshua's chest are the Peters, James', and Johns of the faith. We are His inner circle. And while we may spend many hours cloistered away with Jesus and away from the world, it is arguable, brethren, that this is what is needed to change the world.

How do you be like Jesus? You spend time with Jesus. And spending time with Jesus makes you holy and set apart from all others. Embrace your holiness, therefore, and ask God for a life more abundant, and for rivers of Living Water to flow from your heart.

May others think of JESUS whenever they think of you. Be ye holy as He is holy.

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