“It’s a scary thing to pray for someone to recognize her own need for Jesus,” she confided, “Because you don’t really know what God might allow to bring that about.”
I nodded. I agree. And I know from personal experience that it’s not enough to “be on good terms with God”.
It’s a comfortable place, the good-terms-position, because it relies on the grace found in the name of Jesus Christ while denying the requisite of the shedding of his blood. It relies on the good nature of God while ignoring his justice. It relies on the morality of ones’ actions and dismisses the whole of the person Immanuel. Because however it happened, whatever it took to place the person of God into a crying, suckling, messy human baby, it didn’t happen so that we could keep grace in our back pockets and face the day to day according to our own wills.
God himself submitted his will to the necessary, the vile, the reproachable so that I can have the freedom to choose or deny his lordship in my life? Sounds like Jesus might have gotten the raw end of the deal.
I know that the Bible spells out Jesus’ glorious elevation in the end. In Philippians 2, Paul writes that ultimately every knee will bow and Jesus will be exalted as King over all creation. Revelation 5 tells us that every living creature will praise the name of the Lamb of God. In the end.
But now, God? What about all these nows lived apart from You? What about our kids learning to live life in the digital age, immersed in the tide of distraction and indulgence? What about Friday nights when we don’t know where our daughters are and what our sons are doing? What about those that we love who are pocketing grace and racking up incredible moral and emotional debt?
We got behind on Christmas devotions and last night we had to catch up on several days of prophecy and fulfillment scriptures. These simple verses highlight the Old Testament prophecies and how Christ in his birth, life, death, and resurrection fulfilled the words of the ancients, therefore proving God’s sovereignty in the life of Jesus Christ. To a student of the word, these are fascinating. But I think they fall flat on the hearts of my children.
This scares me.
Are the divinely inspired words hollow and tinny, lacking in power, unable to compete with the dazzle of this world? Does the story of the birth of Christ go something like this in their minds:
Jesus was born as a baby, God’s greatest gift, the wise men gave gifts, Jesus healed a lot of people, bad people killed him, he died on the cross for the sins of the world and God raised him from the dead, the end, pass the peas, let’s open presents and God bless America.
And a part of me wonders if I’m doing this all wrong. Does grace run so rampant and free that there is no fury? Does no tempestuous cry rise in their hearts toward heaven for forgiveness and purpose and the pure love of God?
And it isn’t merely apathy, but familiarity. A plodding routine like going to school and doing chores and playing nicely and taking turns and planning for college and hoping it will all work out in the end….blah, blah, blah. And our hearts are collectively anesthetized by familiarity and plenty, and only temporarily elated by the next big thing.
My desire is not that my kids know and love the story of Jesus, to find the wonder in the prophecy and fulfillment of the words of God to his people so long ago and of his promise to redeem all of us and free us from the confining sin of this world. Yes, I want them to love the story.
I want them to fall in love not with the story of Christmas but with the person of God, the three in one, the Father, the Son, the Spirit.
To move in the presence of Him and long to know him and look for his return. I want them to treasure the person of Jesus Christ and hold out this treasure with passion to others. I want them to watch the distractions fall away like scales and see the person of Jesus as the only thing they need.
It is a scary thing to pray, but it’s the prayer that should be ever on my lips, coursing in the veins like pulsing blood: O Lord, that they may recognize that they desperately, always, only need you!