Imagine you are gifted an all-expense paid dream vacation. When you arrive to your luxury hotel, an eager bellman offers to take your luggage. You politely decline and hobble to the reception desk, balancing several bags. The beaming receptionist is pleased to inform you that the largest suite in the hotel is yours and extends you the key. You quickly push the key away and insist on a downgrade. The lady assures you that the bill has been paid and the suite has your name on it. With a smile, you tell her that you are just glad to be there and would prefer a smaller room, perhaps on the first floor. It takes too long to ride the elevator to the penthouse and you don’t know of any friends who have ever stayed in one. Also, no thank you on room service or maid service. You are used to cleaning your own house and don’t feel comfortable with such luxury.
If that sounds ridiculous to you, then imagine how we must sound to God? “I appreciate Your free gift of salvation, Jesus. I’ll take it. I don’t want to live eternity without You. Oh, You also want to give me an abundant spiritual life here on earth? Adventures? No thanks. Miracles? I don’t need those. Wholeness? I don’t have time for that. Rest? Are you kidding me? I’m too busy. Thanks for the salvation. I’ll get back with You when I’m in a crisis.”
Why would we insist on living such a downgraded spiritual life?
We are not convinced of our true identity in Christ.
When we accept Jesus as our substitute, with His perfect life and sacrifice, we are truly free. Since we are clothed in His white robe of righteousness, our Heavenly Father can look at Jesus instead of our sin.
“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Galatians 3:26-29
If you are in Christ, then you are qualified to live an abundant spiritual life on earth. It doesn’t matter your gender, occupation, or social status, we are one in Christ.
“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He has worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:17-23
I love the phrase, “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened.” To understand our true identity in Christ, we need more than intellectual insight. Seeing ourselves as someone who could be used mightily by God takes God Himself to open our eyes.
We are afraid of what we might have to give up.
We have established that our salvation is completely free. We just have to believe and reach out and take it! Living an adventurous spiritual life full of miracles, on the other hand, comes with a cost. When God wants to give us something new, it often requires losing something old. Ask God to use you and you have the job! All it takes is a “yes.” The on-the-job training, however, can be quite uncomfortable at times.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44
Giving up the old doesn’t mean trying harder. It doesn’t mean becoming a boring, legalistic person who isn’t any fun anymore. It is a beautiful but messy cleansing process, by work of the Holy Spirit, where you lose what you don’t need. Have you ever prayed the “dangerous” prayer that David prayed?
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24
Now, that’s a prayer that is in line with God’s will so be ready for a yes from Him! It can be painful to discover the ways that we are hurting ourselves and others when the Holy Spirit shines His light. If you decide to pray this prayer, then be aware of the devil’s schemes. As the Holy Spirit reveals a specific issue, the devil try to pile on the guilt and make you feel defeated. Jesus took our guilt and shame on the cross, so there is no condemnation, only the opportunity for an upgrade!
Your Heavenly Father’s plans for you are to prosper you and not to harm you (Jeremiah 29:11). Let Jesus, your Good Shepherd, lead you beside the still waters (Psalm 23) to reveal your old mindsets to you. He might ask you to leave something behind that is hurting you. It could be an addiction, an abusive relationship, or “just” a hectic schedule. He might even ask you to give up something you thought was good to make room for the great. Following His instructions may seem impossible at first, but He always makes a way. Surrender your life to Jesus, and expect lasting freedom, even if there is pain in the process.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
I tried before but it “didn’t work.”
“For thus says the LORD God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’ But you were unwilling, and you said, ‘No! We will flee upon horses’; therefore you shall flee away; and, ‘We will ride upon swift steeds’; therefore your pursuers shall be swift. A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill. Therefore the LORD waits on high to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.” Isaiah 30:15-18
Almost everything about living the Christian life seems backward to the world and even to our own rational minds (if we are willing to admit it). God says to rest. We say we have work to do. We want to perform but God wants to do the work in and through us. We run into a problem and “flee on horses.” You may have “tried” to enjoy a rich and abundant life with Christ before and feel like you “failed.” It just didn’t seem to work for you. Enjoying all the fruits of the Spirit is a process and may take a while! I love how in the above passage, our Heavenly Father still waits to be gracious to us despite the fact that we are going our own way. Even though we don’t wait on Him, He still waits on us.
Say yes to the abundant life here “in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13) and expect an adventure.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10