The man raked and raked the seaweed on the beach. As much as he gathered, the waves brought in more. Why not use a machine? It would be faster and more efficient. It would take less effort, less manpower.
Maybe that’s the point.
Perhaps efficiency isn’t always the goal. Without the mechanical raker, more people had jobs. More people could support their families. That money could ripple through the community. Without the mechanical raker, there was less noise. The swish, swish of the rake against the dry seaweed and sand was soothing along with the lapping waves. The mechanical raker might be faster, but it would also be disruptive.
There was yet another benefit to the manpower. As the raker worked, he interacted with people. He asked how people’s days were going. People asked him questions about the process of raking and his everyday life. He was friendly; he could work and talk at the same time. There was an invitation of connection that could never be possible from behind a mechanical raker.
You might prefer the easy way much of the time. Take a moment and consider what you might be missing. Easier isn’t always best.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139: 23-24)
Preparing for, traveling to, and journeying throughout Israel involves a lot of searching.
I search places.
I search and get to know people.
Most of all, I search for God.
I want to know Him better. I want to find who He is and invite however He wants to reveal Himself to me. But it’s not all about me assertively seeking Him. It’s essential, indeed, but when I make it all about what I do, I miss out on something equally, if not more, important.
Much of the effort I make isn’t about a push forward. It is a stillness, a vulnerability to let God search every aspect of me. It is my willingness to submit. And it’s uncomfortable. It means I give God permission to search the things that need to be change. I don’t pick and choose what He searches. He filters everything through His will, not my timing and preference. He affirms and encourages me but also convicts and challenges me. He comforts me and changes me.
And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Sometimes, the twists we create with others’ lives can be catastrophic. We end up squeezing the life out of each other, because we just don’t have enough life to give. Our unhealthy boundaries aren’t so much about the closeness of the relationship but about what we do with that relationship.
Other times, the closeness creates a beauty that would never have been possible on our own. We give each other strength, support, and nourishment. We’re vulnerable, because we have exposed ourselves to others. We invite them into our lives in ways that cannot be fully revoked. We give a piece of ourselves that we can never completely recover. That’s frightening. It can turn out badly.
But it can also be beautiful.
God intends for us to rely on and commit to each other. Most of all, He invites us to rely on and commit to Him. He gives us a piece of Himself. He became vulnerable first, when He gave His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us, taking all the junk of our lives into the pit of death, then overcoming that death, leaving it behind. It seems like a twisted way to get to us, but it’s the way He chose.
Because God loves us. He loves you.
Loving Him isn’t easy. It requires vulnerability and humility. It requires twisting your life with His so intricately that you no longer know where One stops and the other starts. But He’s worth it. And He knows you’re worth it, too.
For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17)
No matter where you are in life, the next step is often the most difficult to take. It’s exciting, frightening, breath-taking, daunting, lonely, reassuring, promising, and shaky. I don’t know what your next step is. I don’t know what your next breath requires. But I know this. God is God. He is purposeful. He longs for you to choose to take the next step with Him. He knows just how you feel. He’s ready. Are you?
The concept of rekindling a relationship isn’t a foreign concept to most people. It’s a strenuous process. Rekindling a relationship is usually not as simply as rekindling a fire, which can often be done by throwing a chunk of fuel on it, poking it with a stick, and blowing strong puffs of wind on it. Rekindling a relationship takes a more gentle touch, and it usually takes perseverance and patience.
One relationship we might not consider in the context of rekindling is our relationship with God. Perhaps it’s because we take it for granted and easily overlook it. We think it “just is,” that it really doesn’t change all that much, and we haven’t let it die out, so why would we need to rekindle it? However, have you really never let your relationship with God ebb and flow? Has it not cooled off during various seasons of your life? Have other priorities taken the majority of your time and energy so that you’ve neglected your relationship with God? Any relationship left unattended will atrophy.
If your relationship with God isn’t as close as it can be, it’s not God who has stepped away and created distance. God is always present and always available. Bemoaning the distance won’t help. Acknowledge the distance, then take steps to rekindle the relationship.
Remember who God is. Claim Him as your Creator and ultimate authority of your life.
Recommit to seek God today…and tomorrow’s todays.
Rely on the Holy Spirit to guide and provide in every situation.
Renew your commitment to trust Jesus as the Lord and Savior of your daily life.
Take it one day at a time. Before long, you will be warmed in God’s presence, and you’ll share the light with those around you.
One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. (Psalm 27:4-6)
What makes you rejoice? What brings you great delight? Does what prompts you to rejoice bring great delight to God? Joy is a firm confidence that all is well regardless of the circumstances. Philippians 3:1 says “Be full of joy in the Lord.” God is the source of joy, and God is the object of joy. We rejoice because God is who He says He is, and that means we can trust Him, fully relying on His guidance and provision through any circumstance. Our joy isn’t circumstantial, because our faith isn’t circumstantial. We rejoice because of God but also with God. As we live close to God, we experience life with the glimpse of His perspective. Because God has the big picture, we can trust there is always hope, and if nothing else, we can rejoice in hope.
Knowing God, being in a dynamic relationship with Him, transcends any and all temporal circumstance. Knowing God is inextricably connected with obeying God, and obeying God gives us peace and assurance even in uncertainties. Life isn’t fair, but God is.
The thing is…whether or not life is fair is irrelevant. God doesn’t want us to get stuck in this life. He wants to correct our eyesight so we see into eternity. This life on earth is important, because it’s where we live out our faith. We seek, learn and grow. God doesn’t want us to waste one minute of it. That’s not to say we’re supposed to be perfect. After all, we often learn most through those trials. We experience the most intense joy after a dark night. God doesn’t want us to waste life, not because it’s about us, but because, ultimately, it’s about Him and our relationship with Him. Are you rejoicing through life with God?
We must reject what is against God’s will. He commands us to love one another. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is a common phrase to describe how we’re to respond to people who are engaging in behavior contrary to God’s will. Most Christians have struggled with how to live this out in specific circumstances. It’s perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions: “How can I love the person without giving her the impression that I approve of what she’s doing?” You can’t do it with your own strength and love. God’s love is unconditional, but it’s also corrective. God loves you even though you don’t live every moment of your life exactly the way He wants you to live. Even when you’re seeking His will and intending to live every moment for Him, you’re going to make some poor judgments. You’re human. But God still loves you.
He also loves the person beside you. You might not know how to share your love, but you can share God’s love, because God says she’s worthy. You don’t have to have every detail of the relationship figured out. You simply must follow God’s lead. That means staying invested in the relationship as long as God leads you to stay invested—and not a moment longer or shorter. People are in our lives for seasons, so you will have limited impact on people. Following God’s lead means you’ll speak up in some situations and be silent in others. It’s how God leads. You have to be content that you don’t have the answers—God does. He knows how to express His love much better than you do. When you respond out of what makes sense to you instead of what God is directing you to do, you run the risk of not only rejecting the person or sending the wrong message but also of rejecting God yourself. When you ignore His lead, you’re putting others and yourself in front of your relationship with Him. And that’s certainly not ever His will.
But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 17-25)