I want to be spiritually on fire. Sometimes, I am. Many times, though, it seems elusive. At times, entering worship opens my heart to God’s radiant presence. Other times, I feel a bit stale or numb inside. I wish it were not so.
Last Sunday, it was one of those days. I had been working too much. We had a lot going on at home. I felt depressed and bothered by many things. I came to church desiring to “feel the fire” but my heart just felt unmoved – even resistant. I felt deep disappointment.
Then, quite suddenly, it happened. We were singing…
I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!
It was when I sang this verse that it happened:
When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
’Twill be my joy through the ages
To sing of His love for me.
As I sang “His face I at last shall see,” the resistance in my heart released and God filled me with His presence. When my heart “let go,” I absorbed as much of God’s presence as I could. It was almost as if floodgates opened or a sprint gun fired releasing to me to run full speed into God’s arms with all my being.
As I stood there, an image came to my mind. Many of us have loved ones who are resisting God. We worry about them. We want them to come to God. Unfortunately, they cannot manufacture repentance any more than I could manufacture this worship experience. To the contrary, both are a gift from God. Once that gift comes, “something” inside us releases allowing us to run to God. Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father enables him.”
I imagined the prodigals of our world – being released from resistance – running and collapsing into the arms of Christ. As this scene played out, I realized that rebellion can be like a building up of inner resistance that propels us to dive all the more into the arms of Jesus when that day of “enabling” comes our way. The storing up of sin can be fuel that propels us to Christ.
We should never interpret this to mean that sinning allows us to encounter God. In some respects, this is true: we run to God because we know how much we need forgiveness. I am just saying that we should never attempt to “get there” by sinning. God will not be mocked.
In biblical terms, this image that I saw can be supported by the story of the woman who could not stop weeping and washing Jesus’ feet with her tears. The pharisees were shocked and disgusted by the scene because they knew “what kind” of woman was at Jesus’ feet. The more insightful point is that this woman also knew “what kind” of woman she had been. In this moment, she is ransomed by Jesus and sees his face. All of the rebellion of an immoral life comes tumbling down and it is almost as if the accumulation of her sins propels her into the arms of God. Not even her fear of the Pharisees will keep her from Jesus.
When our day comes and we are “with the ransomed” in glory, we shall see Jesus; we at last shall see his face. Until then, may God give us these glimpses of seeing Christ in our here and now lives. If sin propels the immoral to run to Jesus, how much more should living a life of spiritual surrender open the gateway to see Him.
May we live wholly for him – and see more and more of him – right here; right now. Not by sinning, but by living wildly surrendered lives at his feet. For our loved ones that have not yet been enabled, we can pray in faith that their current lives are only ratcheting up a spring that soon will propel them to the feet of Christ. By the power of the One who draws and enables each one of us…
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