Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Close the Door

And this is precisely what makes choosing Jesus so hard. 

If you haven't been following along, on Friday I said that the narrow road is choosing Jesus again and again amid all your options, like picking one door of thousands at every juncture. Yesterday, I added that the problem with most of these doors is that they lock themselves behind you so you can't just go back and choose again; you can't just backtrack and make things right.

The problem with Jesus is every time you choose Him, He leaves the door open for you to go back. He doesn't lock you into your choice. Ever. You can be twenty paces or twenty years into one decision you've made for God and take it back in a heartbeat. You can second-guess because you have that second chance. It's always right there for the taking.

Which means it's not so simple as choosing God at this point and choosing Him again at that one. When you decide to choose the narrow road, you have to keep choosing it over and over, every second, every breath...because it's far too easy to go back.

We've seen this in our churches. We've seen this in our communities. We've seen this in our culture. We've seen this in ourselves. The narrow road is rarely the easy road and sometimes, it's easy to say that something is clearly what Jesus wants us to do, but the longer we try to stay true to that, the harder it is and we realize there was an easier, if less holy, way.

Jesus says to save your marriage. To hold your vows. To make every effort to reconcile your relationship. But counseling is hard. Honesty is tough. Putting something so tender as love back together isn't easy and it's taking longer than you ever could have imagined. Some days, it doesn't seem you're getting anywhere at all. At least if you had filed for divorce, you could be moving on already. You could be getting somewhere new, with someone new, and it's hard to understand why you're putting yourself through this torture any more just because it seemed like the right thing to do.

Jesus says to give Him the first fruits. Ten percent. And you start out faithfully tithing, which doesn't seem like a big deal at all. Until those unexpected bills start piling up and it doesn't look like the 90 percent you've got leftover is going to stretch far enough to make it. You start to wonder how you can afford to pay your mortgage when you suddenly realize, Jesus already has a church. He's got that big beautiful building and it's taken care of (or so it seems) so it's okay to take care of your needs first for awhile. Then suddenly it's been years since you gave a dime. Because it's so much easier to work with your full salary than the leftover fraction after God gets His. (And seriously, He's doing fine. Right?)

All these things, you start out on the right road but the right road - the narrow road - is hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it. And because Jesus never locks you into your decisions the way this world does, it's far too easy to go back. Easier, it seems, that going forward. 

So what is the answer? Isn't there anything you can do to make discipleship even a little easier?

Absolutely. Close the door.

When you make a decision for God, close the door behind you. Board it up. Lock it up. Throw away the key. Stand firm in your decision and further decide that going back is not an option. Changing your mind is not an option. You've made your choice. Fix your eyes forward and keep walking; if you've made a faithful error, God will bring it back around for you and give you another chance. Not the same chance, but a new one.

Decide that your word is your word. That it means what you say it means. That Truth does not change for circumstances. Decide that God doesn't make you do anything, that He doesn't box you into your decisions but that you do that. Decide that you make your choices and live by them, even when you have no seeming obligation to do so.

Choose Jesus. Choose Him again and again and again. Walk through every open door God gives you. Just remember to close those doors behind you so you're not tempted. 

Whatever whispers you hear from the places you've already left are not the voice of God; the God who calls you dwells in front of you, ever calling you closer to Him.

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