Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Reckless Christianity


            What do you think of when you hear the word “reckless”? I think of reckless drivers, a person who takes unnecessary risks, and who lacks sensitivity to other’s needs or feelings. The dictionary definition says it is: 1. marked by a lack of thought about danger or other possible undesirable consequences, and 2. a disregard for established safety procedures.

            I have a friend who’s reckless. She craves life on the edge. Several years ago she boldly entered the arena of drugs and alcohol - for the thrill of it. But the thrill is wearing off as the consequences mount. It’s not so much fun anymore, but now she’s hooked and doesn’t know how to get back.

            Recently her counselor suggested she satisfy her reckless spirit with less harmful pursuits. Things like surfing, dirt biking, kayaking - to get a high without breaking the law, wrecking relationships, or destroying her health and future.

            This approach gave my friend a sense of hope and freedom in her recovery process. Instead of telling her to be someone she’s not, her counselor redirected her natural bent to a more productive path.

            I wonder if we sometimes stifle potential believers by showcasing, what appears to them, a bland Christianity. Those who are naturally quiet, submissive, cheerful, and law abiding fit the stereotype. But what if a person is wild and impetuous, loud and argumentative, creative and idealistic? Is there room in the Body of Christ for a reckless person?

            Every scripture reference I found with the word reckless was negative. It was pictured as self-seeking and harmful.  

·         Those who choose a reckless path (Numbers 22:32)

·         Reckless scoundrels for hire (Judges 9:4)

·         Reckless words that pierce like swords (Proverbs 12:18)

·         Speaking reckless lies that lead people astray (Jeremiah 23:32)

·         Wild and reckless living (1 Peter 4:4)

            But what if a person gives his reckless inclinations to God to be used for His purposes? Isn’t it reckless to smuggle Bibles into countries where it’s against the law? What about the mother who visits her son’s murderer in prison to befriend him and share Christ’s forgiveness?  What about a believer who sells everything to move across the country and begin a ministry?

            I know people who do such things, not because they’re thrill seekers, but because they’re God seekers. They’re willing to be reckless in order to make His name great. Sometimes God calls people to do dangerous things that might have undesirable consequences. Ever hear of believers being thrown into prison? Their behavior flies in the face of all that is safe and normal.

            My tendency is to play it safe, follow the rules. The recklessness God calls me to may not look daring to anyone else, but it stretches me beyond my comfort zone, where I have to trust God for the outcome.

            Is God calling you to get a little reckless? Are you willing to pray, give, speak, and live for Him with wild abandon? Tell us your story.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Downloading: Prayer

            The interesting thing about email attachments and photos from my camera or I-phone, is I can retain the original files, even after downloading. This can apply in my prayer life as well. Each morning, and throughout the day, I’m constantly downloading information to the Lord. The question is do I need to hold on to the files?

            If I keep pulling them up and viewing them, am I really giving Him my all? If I’m worried and anxious about the stuff I’ve supposedly given the Lord, I have to wonder if I’ve really left it there.   

            When I read, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7), I picture a fisherman. I don’t know much about fishing, but I imagine if I cast my line into the water but constantly lift the line to examine it, I might not catch much. But, if I’m casting my anxiety into the depth of God’s infinite resources, I don’t need to keep checking to see what’s going on beneath the surface. When it’s time, there will be an answer. Because, the wonderful and amazing truth is - He cares for me. And He cares for you.

            Do you struggle with the same thing in your prayer life? Do you analyze, role play, or replay details over and over in your mind even after you’ve prayed about it? Do you offer God helpful suggestions, instead of leaving your concerns in His capable hands?

            Today I’ve been downloading a lot. I have friends in drug and alcohol recovery - some doing well, some tenuous and struggling. I’m grieving for a dear one whose marriage is an uphill battle. Another person I love feels called to a ministry that I fear will stretch her beyond her limits, yet I trust that where God calls, He also provides. Plus, I have my own concerns regarding work, family, health, and finances.

            Instead of downloading duplicate files and wasting my energy on worry, I want to learn to live in praise instead. Each time I begin to fret, I want to trustingly say, “Thank you, Lord, that you have received my file of pictures and attachments. I know you’re already at work in that situation. I realize I don’t need to download it again or even pull it up to take a look. Instead, I thank you for what you are doing. Thank you for the wisdom, strength, love, healing, and power you are releasing in each situation. You are my Rock, my hope, my delight.”

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

God's Solution for Impossible Situations

            Have you ever escaped a bad situation only to encounter an even worse one? Just when you’re giving a whoop of praise for answered prayer, you run smack into an impossible circumstance. You can’t see how God could possibly solve this predicament. I know I have. Recently.
            Then, I read about the Israelites facing an even worse scenario. After 430 years of slavery in Egypt, God sent Moses to get them out and lead them to a homeland of their own. It took ten plagues and numerous miracles to convince Pharaoh to let go of his free labor force. But when the estimated 3.5 million Israelites left, they took their families, animals, and the wealth of Egypt. They were a pretty merry bunch.          

That is, until they hit the Red Sea. It was deep, wide, and uncross-able. And when they turned to look behind them, they saw the Egyptian army chasing with chariots and horses. Pharaoh had changed his mind again.

            Did they laugh at the soldiers, knowing God had it all under control? No, they did what we do – they panicked, they blamed their leaders, and they complained. It literally looked like a dead end.

            Only Moses had sense enough to ask for God’s help. He reassured the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13-14).

Then God did an amazing thing: He opened the water and made a path to the other side. The Israelites walked across, but just as the Egyptian army raced in after them, God closed the way. No more army. Problem solved.

You and I also face troubles we cannot humanly solve. However, we serve a mighty God who not only knows what we need, but has the power to make it happen. If the Israelites had made a list of possible solutions it might have included:

·         Building boats

·         Erecting a bridge

·         Finding where the water narrowed

·         Swimming for it!

I seriously doubt anyone would have suggested walking across (on dry ground no less!). They would have gotten laughed out of the water (sorry, couldn’t resist that one). But God loves creative solutions.

            In recent weeks I’ve seen God work similar miracles in impossible situations. I had my own list of solutions, which I offered, in case God needed any ideas. But He didn’t do any of those things. His answers were miraculous and exactly what each person needed.

            Do you have “Egyptians” chasing you down, causing fear, panic, and distress? If you don’t currently, I guarantee it won’t be long before you do. That’s the way life seems to go. Thankfully, we have a God who knows what we need. He says, “Don’t be afraid, trust me. Hang in there and watch this. Those Egyptians look pretty scary, but I will protect you. Be still, my child.” And then He shows us the way out, and we cross – blinking in astonishment, grinning with amazement, and laughing at God’s astounding miracle.