What more can I possibly add to what God has so beautifully spoken to us in Psalm 23?
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing…He refreshes my soul…He guides me along
the right paths…”
When I read this, I was reminded of the Non-Christians in my life who have commented on my faith with phrases like, “Christianity is a crutch. Well, if that works for you, but I believe as long as I do good, I’m ok. It is a sign of weakness that you need to believe in God…” These are intelligent people that choose to believe self reliance somehow means one is further ahead in the evolutionary chain…that those of us who believe in the simple message of salvation by grace, just haven’t figured it out yet.
My response to them, and to anyone who asks, is that I am unable to debate the complexities of the Bible with them. I can’t tell them what the Greek word really means or what the historical context is for a particular book or verse. What I do share, and what I believe without a hint of doubt, is that Jesus died for my sins, rose again and through Him the living God has breathed new life in me…the God of the universe, creator of the world, comforts me, I have no fear of evil and my cup overflows because the Lord is actively engaged in my every thought and every action in every day.
There was a time in my life when the Lord had been prompting me about a particular area in my behavior that needed to be addressed, and then changed. I could continue with the status quo or I could choose God’s path. He was asking me to give up alcohol. Perhaps it was because I was surrounded with non-believers, perhaps He knew something I did not know. Whatever the reason, I was very attached to my wine (I am Italian after all) and so it was easy to manipulate what I knew I was hearing…to create justifications as to why I must be misunderstanding what the Lord was really trying to say. The truth is, I didn’t want to change. Years went by where I tried to ignore God’s direction, only to have Him continue to ask, while I would still pretend I couldn’t quite hear. Then one morning about 16 years ago, after a night of staying up too late, I had decided I was going to skip church. I was just too tired from having had too much “fun” the night before on New Years Eve. God would understand and I could sleep in. The moment I made that decision I heard a voice “Go to church.” It was audible. So clear and loud to me that I actually turned around to see who had spoken. Then I realized, “Oh my, God is telling me to go to church.” I wasn’t afraid. I knew that God had a message for me and I was going to hear Him speak through the sermon…how exciting!
And so there I sat, waiting and wondering as one of the elders at that time went on with a very lengthy sermon about tithing. I said to the Lord, “I don’t have any issues with tithing, I don’t get it?” Then the elder asked the question, “will you submit to God in this?” That’s it! God was still asking me the same question he had been putting forward for years! “Rina, will you submit to me?”
Well, I wanted to, I tried to, but ultimately it was just too hard. So the Lord began to do more to get my attention. I would have dreams, warnings, and again the questionwould come, “will you submit to me?” Finally, with shoulders drooping under the weight of my disobedience, I gave it up to the Lord for good.
I share this story because we sometimes we need to be reminded that we are not Christians as a default for our lack of personal strength. Christianity is not a crutch to us. Rather, it is a higher calling whereby we submit ourselves willingly to the Lord because He is real and alive! It is this truth we must stand firm in as we share in each other’s lives and in the lives of those around us. As we walk in obedience and do “not walk in step with the wicked,” we become “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither…whatever we do we prosper.” God is faithful to passionately pursue you because He wants all of you. Sometimes, when we are uncomfortable with what He is asking, we may seek to justify disobedience. I challenge you to submit everything to Him- it could be alcohol (as it was with me), it could be tithing…whatever it is I promise you that if you submit it to the Lord, you will not be disappointed. We serve a living God who wants to change the lives of those in our midst, but His first step might be to start with us.
Take some today to consider your life - do you feel like a tree planted, or a branch blown by the wind, uncertain of God's love and faithfulness and uncertain of your devotion to Him?
Submit to Him in everything and you will not be disappointed. We serve an awesome God.
- Rina Carbol