Thursday, January 24, 2008

Taking My Life Off of Autopilot

Wow, I can't believe it has been about 6 weeks since my last post. Holidays, busyness, blah, blah, blah...no excuses, just laziness. This morning I'm sitting in It's A Grind in Peoria, Az. listening to a very eclectic mix of music, drinking my second large cup of coffee and reading 1 Kings. I'm really desperate to walk closer to Jesus - to LIVE in His presence and to experience Him at every turn in my life. For me, life can just kick in and I live and breath on autopilot --- kind of like driving to a location and after arriving realize that I have no recollection of how I got to my destination -- autopilot. I don't like when my life is like that. When my life is on spiritual autopilot I get blended into doing life without pizzazz(sp) for Jesus. So, this morning I taking the autopilot (cruise control) off and stepping up my focus on Jesus. I want to hear His voice, His passion, His thoughts...I want to carry out His will for His kingdom building pleasure. Mostly, I want to be a good Christ follower for my wife, my children and the group of Christ followers God has called me to. My heart is also heavy these days. Heavy because of several 'out-of-control' events that have spun on around me. My good neighbor, Lee died of brain cancer on Dec. 18th leaving his wonderful wife Becky alone (why God?). My grandmother died on Dec. 31st. She was 98 and had a full life but I still ache for her to hug me, to squeeze my cheeks and to make meat pies for me. I presided (interesting word) over both Lee's and my grandmother's funerals. Emotionally spent. I have two friends who have terminal cancer - One in their mid 30's, the other in their mid 40's (why God?). My middle child, Rachel (26), had a grand mal seizure last Wednesday. Rachel is mentally handicapped so we will probably never know why, but she did manage to tell us that she ran into the wall and then fell to the ground and then she was 'shaking'. We assume it was head trauma and pray it never happens again. But my heart is really heavy more over the silly (I would like to choose another word) choices people make (repeatedly) who claim to want to follow Christ with their everything. It can be simple choices like working more to have more or looking for fulfillment in some sort of activity instead of living for the Christ. Regarding the folks I'm thinking of, they certainly are not drawing closer to Jesus, but further. They are not giving more of themselves, but less. They are not being faithful to what they have said Jesus has asked of them, they are being faithless - thank God that even when we (I) am faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself. So this morning I'm praying, even as I write, I'm praying for my life get off of autopilot and to look again at the map that Christ has laid out for me. I'm praying for my friends to remember the map that Jesus has shown them. I'm praying for my heavy heart that I will find joy and contentment in what Jesus is doing in me and in immediate world around me. A thankful heart often is part of the remedy for a heavy heart. Jesus, I'm so thankful for your love for me! 1 Kings 1-12 Just a short overview/summary of these chapters - they really do relate to how I'm feeling about myself and others - these chapters are also very amazing to me regarding choices that God followers make. Solomon, son of David, becomes King when David dies. In these chapters, God appears to Solomon three times. The first two times, God tells him basically the same thing - if you live like your father David did and obey me and follow my commandments, the kingdom will remain in your lineage forever. If you don't live like I have lined out, I will tear the kingdom from you. Pretty straight forward. The third time God appears to Solomon, He informs Him that He is going to tear the kingdom out of his lineage. Now we all know that we ought to be following the ways of Jesus closely, but very few have had the type of encounters with God as Solomon has. Even fewer have had that experience twice with the same message. Solomon certainly understood what God had told him. When Solomon had completed building the Temple for God and was in the midst of dedicating it, he instructed the people in the same truth that God had told Him. Solomon certainly understood the ways of God. After most of his life was over, we read in 1 Kings 11 that Solomon had violated God's law by marrying women from other cultures with different religious (cultic) worship forms. Solomon even had built worship centers for his wives (about 1000 women altogether) and their false Gods. This is amazing to me. How can it be? How can a man whom God appears to twice with the same message, and then that man teaches those truths with sincerity, make such an abrupt directional change? My only answer is the one that I think would take me down a similar path. The wrong direction begins with one wrong decision. That decision may seem very benign, harmless and even deserved. There is a way that seems right to a man, but that way leads to death. Staying close to Jesus, being honest with Him and those of His family is a good remedy to those seemingly benign choices. Allowing our lives to be exposed to a few trusted friends is freeing. Be careful if you start to withhold truth from your friends about some of you choices or thoughts. Be careful if you find yourself less connected to once close friends. Watch your life and teaching closely. I'm taking my life off of autopilot and asking Jesus to examine my life closely once again. I want to shine brightly for my Lord and I want others to be impacted to draw closer to Jesus because that is really the more rewarding place to be.