On the Porch
Last week as I tried to write this blog, I couldn’t seem to put my thoughts together so I decided to let it rest for a week. I posted my first ever “teaser” and used that time to mull and pray for clarity of thought and words. Until age twelve I spent a lot of time at church. My mother was a Sunday School teacher, my dad a deacon as well as the Training Union director and they both sang in the choir. ( It was a wonderful choir). When they were needed at church, I was there too. Although there were some people who did not behave in a loving, Godly manner, most appeared to be genuine believers, whose desire was to serve God. It was in that church where I gave my heart to Christ and learned how much he loved me.
Lucerne Park Baptist Church, Orlando, Florida
Over the years I heard a LOT of sermons, good ones too. Yet there were three teachings of Jesus that I feared:
- Don’t be a milk drinker
- The gate to heaven is narrow
- I never knew you.
I didn’t see how my imperfect self could ever measure up.
Don’t be a milk drinker
The passage that admonished me to not drink milk is Hebrews 12:13-14. Verse 13 reads:
For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
Sermons based on this verse admonished me to stop needing to be spoon fed and grow up. I turned to Biblegateway to get a more readable translation and found The Message Version.
11-14 I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.
Sometimes it seemed that as soon as I started on the solid food of God’s word, I would relapse to the milk diet. I worried that I was stalled there forever, destined to be a milk drinker.
The gate to heaven is narrow. Matthew 7:13-14 worried me a lot during my childhood and early adult years.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” NIV
I was surrounded by Godly people. How was my mess of a life going to fit through that gate?
In my lifetime, I have seen a trend to “widen the tent” or in this case, the gate. The Message translation explains this far better than I can.
13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention. “
This one doesn’t frighten me now. I believe that narrow gate will hold all who earnestly seek the ways of the Savior.
I never knew you. My heart quaked when I considered this scripture, Luke 13:27
But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. NIV
How could he say that?
Once again, I turned to The Message and read several more verses.
23-25 A bystander said, “Master, will only a few be saved?”
He said, “Whether few or many is none of your business. Put your mind on your life with God. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires your total attention. A lot of you are going to assume that you’ll sit down to God’s salvation banquet just because you’ve been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives. Well, one day you’re going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you’ll find the door locked and the Master saying, ‘Sorry, you’re not on my guest list.’
26-27 “You’ll protest, ‘But we’ve known you all our lives!’ only to be interrupted with his abrupt, ‘Your kind of knowing can hardly be called knowing. You don’t know the first thing about me.’
I love how Jesus admonished them to mind their own business and to put their mind on their own life with God. I have learned that spending time with God is not giving him my list of daily requests, rather it is daily giving myself to him. I confess, I am still learning.
Many, many years ago, DiVoran Lites shared with me her theory of fiery darts and I have never forgotten it. To paraphrase, Satan has a bundle of darts at his disposal and he chooses ones that will attack weakness.
For me he attacked the maturity of my faith (milk drinker), my worthiness to enter Christ’s kingdom (narrow gate) and my fear of being rejected ( I never knew you). DiVoran suggested that when those darts arrived, I should mentally reject them and return them to the sender. I do this by claiming God’s word in my life, especially the verses that I call my “cling-tos”
I’d like to share with you one of my favorite “cling-to” verses.
38 For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, 39 or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us
Nothing, nothing can separate me from his love! Isn’t that the best? .