I want to be a 'natural enthusiast' for God.
In Chapter 37 of The Purpose Drive Life, Rick challenges the reader to write out the answers to the questions below so that they are ready to be a witness for God. Here's the questions with my answers:
What My Life was Like Before I Met Jesus?For a long time I thought that I had to act a certain way and do certain things to be a good Christian. I believed that if I was good, and tried to do good things, God would be pleased and reward me. I grew up in a church, but I didn't really understand who Jesus was. I could say and do all the right things, but inside I was completely out of touch with Jesus. As a result, I was probably one of the 'church people' that could turn you off.
I was unloving, self-centred, and unfulfilled.
Back then, and sometimes even now, there are days/times even now when, if I don't include God in my day, my life can feel like its missing meaning or purpose. 'Meaning' and 'purpose' can be overused, rather generic terms. Hopefully this will clarify: I get bored quickly. I can discover something on my own and it can be novel, interesting, and fill me with purpose and meaning for a while, but if I can't share it with someone - if there isn't meaning and purpose in it beyond myself - I lose interest, and I end up asking myself why I'm doing it... what's the point?
How I Realized I Needed JesusThis was more difficult because I had to realize that I didn't really understand Jesus, who He was, and what He was about. How do you convince someone (me) who thinks he has something that he doesn't really have it?
Slowly, over many years and through a number of experiences, I've come to see (and frankly, I continue to realize) that I was spiritually bankrupt:
- I'd compare my life with others and think 'There's love and joy oozing out of them... why do I feel like I have to conjure it up?' I'd look in the Bible and compare my life to how it said I should live and I felt like I came up short. I'd try to do what I felt God wanted me to and it felt unnatural - like it wasn't really me.
- I'd reach a goal or pinnacle in my life and realize that its empty, and there's always something 'more' to strive for. That was disheartening.
- I'd do things for me, and it felt empty. Sure, there were sometimes cool stories to tell, but looking at the broad scope of things, it was temporal fluff. The Bible says 'God has placed eternity in the heart of man' What would my legacy be? I'd feel legacy-less. If that feeling was true, then what was the point of life and living?
Growing up, I memorized a lot of verses from the Bible, but never really understood their implication - what they should really mean to me. It was like learning a lot of vocabulary from another language, but not really being able to speak the language at all because you don't know the grammar or how to put the words together in a sentence.
Keith Green said something that has always impacted me:
'Saying a prayer doesn't mean you're a Christian, people in every religion pray. Praying to Jesus doesn't make you a Christian. Jesus said many shall come in my name saying "Lord, Lord, didn't we heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, and all kinds of stuff", but Jesus will respond and say "Depart from me, I never knew you." You want to know what a Christian is? I've got a really good definition -- Someone who's bananas for Jesus! Someone who loves the Lord with all his heart, all his mind, all his soul, and all his strength. And don't forget the second part! He loves everyone else as much as he loves himself.'
Was I loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? Did I believe that Jesus was The Way, The Truth, and The Life? Did I believe that Jesus paid it all on the cross for me - that there is nothing I can DO to put myself in right standing with God?
How I Committed My Life to Jesus
Daily, I offer God my life. I try and trust and believe in Jesus' work on the cross for me, and I try to follow and trust him. For me it doesn't feel like a one-time thing - its something I need to do every day. Some days I do it better than others as I learn to be consistent in trusting in what He's done and what He continues to do in me. I do this by asking God to forgive me as I forgive those who've sinned against me, and offering God my life everyday praying 'Your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven in my life today.' And then I try and be obedient to His guidance in my life, remembering what He has done for me, and how much He loves me - I really need to work on that. I feel that if I understood the magnitude of His love better in my life, a lot of things would be even more different (isn't that great english?) than they are now.
The Difference Jesus Has Made in My LifeIts like there's a whole new dimension to living when I try and live with Jesus at the centre of my life. Not only am I making a difference for eternity, but I know that I am unconditionally loved by the One who matters most. My life has more meaning and purpose. There are moments when I know I'm exactly where God wants me to be, doing what God wants me to do, and the feeling of purpose and fulfillment I get from that is unparalleled.
I'm more empathetic, forgiving, graceful, and understanding of others as I learn to receive God's love, forgiveness, and grace in my own life.
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