i don’t want to go through the motions

Category : Jesus, Matthew, fear, living a life of faith, taking action, trust

……….

I admit it.  The last few weeks have been a bit up and down on R3.  I haven’t been able to post the usual three times a week.  It seems events have been conspiring against me.  At first I was sick.  Then I realized it was NaNoWriMo.  (That’s National Novel Writing Month for those of you scoring at home.)  And after writing about 20,000 words of a book, I had to put virtually everything on hold because, my friends, I have some good news to share.  I was offered a job on Monday and accepted.

That means after all this time I will finally be employed.

If you’ve been following R3 for any length of time you know that this last year has been hard.  I’ve been unemployed since the first of the year.  And that takes a toll on you.  More than just financially though. You can easily begin to doubt yourself.  And at times I really questioned where I was going.  Unemployment can also shake your faith.  There were times when I really wondered if I was really following God or just going off on my own tangents.  It also can impact your relationships.  It’s hard to be loving and engaged when you wonder where you will get enough money to pay the bills.  It’s also hard to stay active with your friends when they want to go do something that costs money and you don’t have the funds for that.

Looking back on the year I realize just how much I have learned and just how much I’ve grown.  I don’t even feel like the same person anymore.  And none of that would have been possible without trusting God and quitting my job.  The ironic thing is, that despite all the pain this year has caused, it’s something I wouldn’t trade for anything.  In fact, it’s probably one of the best years I’ve ever had.

You see I don’t want to go through the motions.  I don’t want to look back on my life and wonder, “did I really give everything?”  I don’t want to just be that guy who punches the clock and that’s it.  I want my life to make a difference.  I want to advance the Kingdom in powerful ways, or at least in whatever ways I can.

Jesus once told the parable of the talents.  In it he described three men who were each given talents (which was a sum of money equivalent to about 3 months of wages).  Two of the men doubled what they had been given.  But the last man didn’t do anything with his talent.  He was afraid and therefore didn’t act.

When the master of the three men returned he demanded an account of how they had used the money.  The first two were rewarded greatly, and the last man was punished.  Not because he lost the money.  But because he didn’t do anything with his talent!

That terrifies me.

I would rather lead a life of adventure, and chaos, and unpredictability than live a safe, comfortable life that wasn’t about pursuing God.  I knew that I had a choice to make about my job.  Stay there and be comfortable, but do nothing with my “talent.”  Or be willing to trust God so much that I would walk into a completely unpredictable world.

I chose to act.

I don’t always choose to act.  And I’m not saying everyone should quit their job.  But I don’t want to look back some day and think, “why did I waste my talent?”

This is why the Matthew West song “The Motions” has become a theme song of sorts.

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
“What if I had given everything,
Instead of going through the motions?”

That’s how I want to live.  How about you?  Are you going through the motions?

what if I had given everything?

1

Category : Jesus, Luke, hope, radical, revolutionary, trust

   

‘Cause I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
“What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?”

- Matthew West, The Motions

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to follow God.  Especially as we are hammered every day by bad news.  How do you follow God when you have no job, no money, no future?  How do you manage to live out a life of faith when your home or car is being repossessed?

There’s only one answer I can think of, and that’s being ”all in.” 

We can’t worship God half way.  If we’re to pick up our cross and follow Jesus, we can’t carry it just part way.  We can’t just say “I’m in it for the good times.”  Because when we take that approach, the minute bad things hit, we jump out and lose hope.

Jesus warned us to weigh the consequences of following him.  And I think he was serious.

He knew we could never withstand suffering if we haven’t fully committed to God.  If we’re holding onto the world, we’ll never be able to say “everything I have is yours”.  As long as we still crave what the world offers we know, deep down, we’re not being honest toward God.  Which is why our first reaction to bad news is anger towards him.  We’re upset he’s taken something that belongs to us.   

When we split our between the world and God, our focus always ends up on what makes us happy and healthy.  

When I look at passages like these, I don’t think God is trying to be harsh.  I don’t think Jesus was trying to scare people away when he said a follower must “hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life” (Luke 14: 26).  Jesus was trying to show the problems of having our focus on something other than God.  He wanted us to understand that we will never be able to handle life if we grasp him with one hand, but cling to the world with the other. 

Being a Christian is an all or nothing proposition. 

Until we’re willing to go “all in” we will never have the piece of mind that comes with trusting God.  We will never believe we’re really doing what God wants.  Because we will always crave something else.  It’s only when we learn to put God ahead of our families, our lives, and our comfort, that we can escape hopelessness.   

Knowing that we’ve given everything, instead of going through the motions” lets us withstand suffering.  It may even allow us to enjoy life in the midst of our problems.  But without giving everything, we have no chance when real suffering hits. 

Being “all in” is what puts this world into perspective.