The Sin of Shutting Down


This blog thing has become either an obsession or a great exercise in responding to God.  Each morning I find myself awaiting a word from the Lord as I do my devotionals, sometimes its immediate, other times more subtle, often not at all.

This morning’s thoughts were about preparation for a quiet, personal graveside gathering, which I will conduct in the a.m. tomorrow.  There, we will lay to rest a saintly woman, blind most of her life,  one who lived a humble life alongside her carrying husband, with her funeral expected to attract only a few family members. 

It was interesting as I picked up my Bible, after clipping her obituary from the Journal. Opening the text randomly, my only intent was to secure a place for the obit in the Bible which I planned to carry to the service.  There, I felt the Lord draw my eye to a seldom read Psalm, almost as if He had selected it for her?  I am reminded, even as I write, of Psalm 116:15 (NIV): “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” 

Almost as if the Ancient of Days was momentarily distracted from the lofty challenges of this universe, He was now fully present here with me, to care for this relatively unknown saint.   He then draws me to that obscure Psalm 15, a litany of qualifications for those who “will never be shaken.”  I was now both prepared and awed, by a God that cares to this degree for His creatures!

Yet, almost as quickly as He prepared me for the event tomorrow, His focus turned to my own life.  He is a personal God and our lives are significant to this globe!  You see, there in a moment of stark reality, of death and of aging, He began to challenge me personally, given that I too, am now well beyond the age at which I could have retired from a career as an educator.

I then picked up the writings of my friend from the earlier 1900’s, Oswald Chambers, and read “Beware of harking back to what you were once when God wants you to be something you have never been.” (June 8, Barbour)

Chambers had earlier referenced Rm. 12:1-2 and the idea of sacrificing your life for the cause of Christ.  He then layers caution over these words, to say that fulfilling “the purpose of God in your life by discerning His will,”  is far greater than performing “great acts of self sacrifice.”

The two moments came together…as long as I have breath I have new future.  Rather than spending my last days reflecting on what I have done or even spinning stories of great sacrifices made for the gospel (truly, if any), I must spend my time becoming what I have not yet been, for that is what He has planned for me and has provided breath and strength to achieve.

Retirement, reflection, relaxation, that’s just too heavenward for me!

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV).

As long as I have breath, and my feet on this earth’s sod, I press on!

One thought on “The Sin of Shutting Down

  1. John:

    I read you as a primer to getting into the Scriptures this morning. Depending on my selected text, or your blog entry, one or the other seems to always strike me in the heart first. I guess that makes sense if in fact we humans have the ability to hear from the Spirit, and speak from that place of listening even as the saints of old have done for us in the Bible- for they were simply writing their own blogs and letters I suppose.

    I can identify with your sense of “I would be here if I had only continued as an educator…” or whatever the “if/then” is a person wrestles with. If I had only practiced more or started golf younger, I would be playing with the guys on tour today who are making millions. If I had only bought that house on the bay when it was $X and now is worth way more, I would… But alas, many of those boys making millions swinging a club at a ball on tour are cheating on their wives, and they probably think, “If I wasn’t on the road all the time…” We rarely are where we are. We usually are living out some other fantasy, which leads to being where we wished we were, yet not liking it when we arrive.

    So it leads me to reflect on this moment- if only I were to care most about the opinion of Jesus, then I would be fulfilled. And that, like Oz said, is the only “if/then” I hope to attain.

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