What a process life is—let alone a life in Christ. Throughout the span of my short-lived journey of 24 years thus far, I have witnessed God attempt to discipline and correct me so many times, in so many ways—nearly everyday. Not out of anger. Not even out of disappointment. We assume that this is how He would naturally react toward us, which is probably why the average person rebels, in some form or another, due to the shame and frustration of the acting outs (or even inner thoughts) of the current state of their character. But, truthfully, this discipline is out of nothing more than the purest and most wholehearted love found in the universe.
Perhaps this is the enemy’s greatest strategy in attempting to keep us from experiencing the good fruit we are purposed to produce and enjoy as Christians. Whether working as a plumber, high school teacher, doctor, salesman, engineer, executive, artist or fast-food employee (although the last two are often combined), God wants us to reap the harvest of His will lived out amidst our present circumstances, no matter how unpleasant they might seem at the time. Believe it or not, He wants us to actually enjoy our lives. But, genuine joy comes from fulfillment, and lasting fulfillment can only come from the life found in Christ.
Of course, who hasn’t heard all of this before? Well, humor me in reminding you as I make a greater attempt to remind myself. You see … I forgot. Nope, I didn’t physically lack the knowledge per se. In a much simpler I’m-an-idiot-guy-who-eats-too-much-pizza-and-watches-Comedy-Central-far-too-often kind of way, I just “forgot.” I let my spiritual muscles become weak. While I know that this certainly isn’t the greatest excuse in the world, especially if I was forced to approach the throne of God after a heart attack due to all of the pizza and lack of aerobic activity (although it should be duly noted that laughing does in fact burn calories), my mind was not set on things from above. I was not complying with the whispers of God’s perfectly wise and good direction for my everyday life, because apparently I had better things to do … or not do. I thought about God. I thought about my life. And I thought about all of the great things that I could be accomplishing with and for them both, if only He would “bless” me. But, what about just doing God’s will (always a seemingly oversized undertaking for those with an often undersized faith, such as myself) by being humbly obedient even in the small things?
A good and trusted Christian friend of mine once told me, “Matt, the things that seem the least spiritual in your day-to-day life are actually the most spiritual … and the things that seem the most are usually the least.”
These little things are what make up our character. We can believe whatever we want, say whatever we want, go to church more often than our own pastor, read all of the latest “Christian” books from the most respected authors and steer so clear of sin that even the Pope would feel convicted. But, will we prove our faith? Without action, it does not honestly exist.
So, we should all become revved up and start serving the Lord by going out and “reaching the lost,” right? Right?! Sure, that’s wonderful, but sometimes I wonder if we’re not almost—if not just—as lost as the lost sometimes. Yes, we’re saved, and I wouldn’t dare ever question or minimize the salvation of the blood of Christ. But, are we truly following Him, or merely sounding our horns and clanging our cymbals to a deafened society of individuals who would love nothing more than to just see Jesus in action?
If we truly wish to let our lights shine, we need to take every aspect of our living in this world seriously. After all, if this weren’t the case, we would already be at home in heaven not having to deal with any of this earth stuff. But, God created all of it, and, with every area that we are faithfully obedient to Him in, the more whole we become in the process, giving way to an overflow of significantly more success and glory to be reflected upon Him in further evidence of His everlasting truth.
For example, I carry a very large vision for my life to someday write, direct and produce major motion pictures that will bring about a dramatic impact on the world around us. This is no small plan, no small task, and requires no small faith. Or does it? It might be big, but doesn’t God claim to be bigger? This is my ultimate calling, and I have known it for nearly my entire life. But, during a recent spiritual trial, which was filled with an onslaught of overwhelming fears and doubts in my mind regarding if I would ever really find my way to this reality, God began to challenge me on levels that I did not expect (or maybe I just did not want), both directly and through other people in my life.
Awaiting direction from the Lord in prayer for my next “big move” that would eventually help change my life, these are the instructions I would receive (and typically ignore): Make your bed, organize your belongings, do your laundry, turn off the television, exercise, eat healthy, finish your reading, stop complaining and by all means, quit checking your email like you’re waiting for Steven Spielberg to drop funding in your lap FOR A PROJECT THAT DOESN’T EVEN EXIST YET.
Yes, oddly enough, God requires us to be faithful with little before He will give us much. Unfortunately, there is no real way to get around this as a Christian who hopes to grow and remain fruitful, unless you would like to keep convincing yourself otherwise, as I did with the need to constantly focus on “more important things.”
Of course, the “bigger” steps can be important, too, as long as God is leading them. But, without even the smaller ones being taken, there is nothing bigger. It is so easy to take our blessings for granted and be ungrateful for all that we already possess. But, who can hardly blame us? We are spoiled with so much convenience and entertaining distractions galore in our culture that often we get caught up into thinking that we’re automatically entitled to good things—as Americans, and especially as Christians.
News flash: We are not entitled to a single thing living outside of the kingdom of God (His will), nor are we even promised tomorrow another day. So, let’s start living the lives God intended us to live today, which can only be done through obedience to the Word of God, out of sincere love. Study and get to know it. It is the absolute concrete basis for getting to know God and His true character. And do not neglect to take your walk deeper by becoming intimate with Him in prayer, seeking out His voice and spending quality time in His presence whenever possible (and realizing how very subjective the word “possible” can translate in our language … make it possible). Find a quiet place to be alone with Jesus and allow Him to heal, renew and lead you back to the path where you were meant to be walking with Him all along.
It is now 4:44 a.m., and I am feeling very personally convicted after having written all of this. So, it is time for me to hit the sack and hide from the reality of these words for a few hours, before I must get up and actually live them out myself. Hopefully I will be as productive tomorrow as I was tonight, but within a more responsible timetable. Listen, none of us are perfect—but in Christ we are made whole, because He is. We are all still learning how to walk. So, what will be my next “big step” you might ask? Finally going to sleep in the bed I made this morning, after setting my alarm to wake up at a somewhat reasonable hour. I have to start somewhere, and that seems small enough to me.
[Matthew Lane is the Founder of RPM [revolutionary.praise.movement], a multimedia producer & distributor focused on exploring faith inside of music and culture. He lives in a suburb of Portland, Ore., next door to a man who wears yellow running shorts whenever picking up the morning paper from his driveway.]
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