This is important.
Here’s a confession for those of you who don’t know me very well.
I’m a brainiac.
(at least I was until I started having babies and they stole all my brain cells!)
Matt always teases me that I went to school on the short bus…funny part is that I really did. A short bus to a special school! (and I survived!)
Being who I am, I have so many questions, and I’m always looking for answers. I love to ask, I love to research, and I love to learn. And with things that seem a little hard to explain, I can be really really skeptical. Call it a bad case of head getting in the way of my heart.
But, not about this. Not anymore at least. It is too important.
I’ve written recently about some of the extremely difficult struggles some families we know are going through. I’ve been processing life, and death, and trust, and fear, and faith, and strength, and God’s plan from so many different angles these last few weeks.
Monday, another layer was added to this processing. A young pastor from our denomination, Josh Allen was driving to pick up his brother from the airport in New Mexico when he was hit by someone going 90 miles an hour in the wrong lane.
He died immediately.
He had a 9 month old son.
It was his wife’s birthday.
Ugh, my heart wrenches again as I write.
Life.is. so. short.
There is so much in our days that is unimportant at best, and pathetically redundant if we start to think about it. Facebook and it’s time sucking tendencies, hurt feelings over petty fights, worry over ‘what-if’s’, our materialistic wants, our selfish desires, our refusal to forgive and move on, our obsession with keeping up with the Joneses…at the end of the day these mean nothing.
Back to the brainiac.
I wanted very little to do with God for a long time. Sadly, He wasn’t in my home as a child. Jesus was nothing more than a cute story. Going to church was optional at best. Coming out on top was the most important. And, my attitude became “I don’t need God, I am doing just fine on my own”.
That mantra ran through my head for years.
It was strange though. Confusingly, I felt drawn to trying to understand who God was. I wanted to think there was heaven. I wanted to believe. But, at the very same time, I didn’t want to have to give up what I had. And, if I spent too much time thinking about “religious or spiritual things”, I would find myself angry and disgusted by the notion that there even was a God, a God who was going to tell me what to do. I was having fun doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted in my life, and not having to worry about any consequences.
“I don’t need God, I am doing just fine on my own”
Truth is, I wasn’t. But I was conditioned to believe that God wasn’t worth my time, and that I had this life thing figured out.
Someday I’ll write about how God finally changed my
mind heart. For now I want to throw out a few words.
Big words. Tough words for those ‘brainiac’ types. Tough words for those ‘like to have control’ types. Tough words for those ‘life is about me getting what I want when I want’ types. Tough words for those who refuse to embrace them.
Beautiful life-giving, hope-breathing, strengthening, carrying, joy-conveying words. Beautiful words for anyone who has experienced what they really mean.
Josh Allen knew what it took to get to Heaven.
There are lots of people who toss Heaven around like it is a vacation spot away from this terribly cold and dreary winter.
You can’t get there being a good person. Sorry.
You won’t go to Heaven because on occasion you’ve sat in a church and even mumbled “grace” at a holiday meal. It won’t work.
You won’t go to Heaven because another fallen, sinful person says they’ve got the authority to act on God’s behalf and forgive your sins so you can be saved. This is a tragic deceitful lie!
You won’t go to Heaven because you’ve read parts of the bible (or even all of it!). It’s not about how much you know.
The only way to Heaven is a relationship with Jesus.
It is as simple as that. It defies the brainiacs, the control seekers, the self-seeking types.
It means finally admitting that we are junk. Our hearts and minds are filled with sinful thoughts. Our lives are a string of sinful actions that take us further and further away from God. (It’s not news to Him, He sees it all anyways).
It means humbling ourselves by realizing that there is NOTHING we can do that will make us good enough to be accepted by God. (Not even the ‘nicest’ person you know is anywhere near good enough)
It means realizing that God sent His son Jesus to be a sacrifice to cleanse us of the sinfulness that fills each of us. A sacrifice that would replace the junk that God sees inside us with perfect goodness. A sacrifice that would save us from an eternity in Hell, and give us the gift of eternal life. A way to Heaven.
It means we are being given a gift in Jesus’ death. A gift that is only ours if we accept it. It’s not ours by default. Salvation is not by default- not because your parents were saved, not because you were baptized as a baby, not because you think everyone should go to Heaven. It’s a precious gift given for YOU that YOU must recognize and accept.
Or you could take your chances…”It’s not really that big a deal is it? I’ll be dead anyways. Maybe I’ll just party it up in Hell”.
I learned about FOMO last year. I sort of stink with the acronym things, but it made me laugh to find out that I too suffer from “Fear of Missing out”.
It is something lots of us struggle with, this FOMO business…we want to be in the “know” (that’s why people check their Facebook accounts every chance they get-the average is 14 times a day!!). We don’t want to be left out.
So, what if you are wrong?
What if God DOES matter as much as Christians think? What if you AREN’T doing just fine on your own (best thing I ever figured out!). What if you are giving up eternity in Heaven for eternity in Hell?
Hell. There’s another big scary word that has recently hit home even more as my boys pray for people they love, that those people will choose to follow Jesus and not have to face an eternity burning in a lake of fire. My 5, 7 and 9 year olds get it. It’s not a ‘take your chances’ sort of thing.
My heart grieves for the Allen family as they mourn the loss of their husband, father and son Josh. Oh, my heart hurts for them. But, they are also rejoicing. Amazingly, they are rejoicing in the midst of this terrible tragedy. Rejoicing because they know that Josh’s life was in God’s hand, and that he WILL be in Heaven. Rejoicing because Josh’s death is causing others to question their own lives and what would happen to them if they died today. Rejoicing that God can use even this tragedy to draw people to Him.
What would happen if you died today?
Better yet, look deep into the eyes of someone who is beyond precious to you, someone you love with all your heart.
What would happen to them if THEY died today. Would they be joining the Creator of the universe in Heaven, or would they be suffering unending agony forever?
Leave the brainiac arguments, leave the control freakedness, leave the YOLO mentality and cling to Jesus.
If I’ve rustled your feathers out of the comfort of “I’m doing just fine on my own”, I’d love to hear about it. I fought God for a long time, I turned away from Him for a long time, I justified/rationalized/intellectualized for sooooo long. I get where you are. And I am thankful I never ever have to go back there.
It’s a big huge hairy deal. Knowing where you stand with God is important. Deal with it today. Please.