A Christian Life: Don’t Take It for Granted!
I hope you spent a wonderful Christmas day celebrating the joyful event of Jesus’ birth. Because of his birth, regardless of whatever situation we are currently facing, we can take Jesus’ promise to heart, “with God all things are possible.”
On Christmas Eve, I turned on the faucet and was greeted with tepid water. This began a series of unfortunate events and made for spells of tremendous surprised yells and outbursts of laughter from my family. The water progressed from tepid to freezing, and the family resorted to heating pots and kettles of water to complete everyday tasks we take for granted. Fortunately, on Christmas day, our wonderful House Manager arrived early morning to fix the problem. God bless him, abundantly!
“When you take things for granted, the things you are granted get taken.” –Unknown
This event brought to mind how easily, as Christians, we take a life lived in Christ for granted. We walk in and with the one true Light of the world, guaranteed rescue and comfort, for he has promised that “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Often, when taking things for granted, we lose our sense of purpose, joy, and Sundays and Christian life become more boring routine tasks. We begin to find reasons why we can’t be at church and justify our motives (I’m not talking about those who have to be away due to health concerns). Weeks pass by, each moment dulling our senses to God’s awesome presence and gifts in our lives and the necessity to be with other believers.
When I was at a church in California, there was a powerful businessman, and we’ll call him Bob, who prided himself on his self-made status. He didn’t need anyone’s help, particularly God’s. One day, Bob hit a brick wall. Faced with nowhere else to turn, depressed and hopeless, he arrived at the men’s Bible study meeting at our home. He admitted that he did need God, after all. The men prayed with him, and Bob started attending church every Sunday.
And Bob’s fortune changed. God started to bless his business again. Bob couldn’t say enough to express his gratitude for God’s help and the men’s group.
After about a month, Bob’s attendance began to drop off. He apologized for his absence. The business had taken off again and was keeping him busy. He assured the men’s group that he hadn’t stopped trusting God, praying, and Bob was sorry he couldn’t make every Sunday worship. He was overwhelmed with work and had to fulfill his projects.
The next time Bob attended the men’s group, he was a different Bob—a strong and positive Bob. During the sharing time, Bob told the group how he was doing. He thanked them for their prayers but said he realized that it was his exceptional business skills that had turned things around. He identified his problem as being one of not trusting himself enough. By the time he had finished, the feeling was that Bob had helped God fix his own problem! But every time Bob’s business went down, or his family needed help, he would come back to church and reach out to the men’s group. And the cycle repeated long after we moved away from California until Bob no longer needed God.
A depressing story but a good reminder of what taking things for granted does to our faith life. When we take Jesus for granted, it reflects in every action of ours. We stop enjoying life. We don’t pause to gaze in wonder at the beautiful creation with which God has gifted us. Negativity, blame, and irritation become our discouraging friends. We may think we’re masking what we’re guaranteed to become without daily prayer, study, and being with other believers. But no smiles or nice-speak blocks the dullness that exudes from us. We can’t pretend about the things of God. It is not about performance, but a condition of the heart. It is about celebrating God’s sheer mercy and grace in our lives.
2021 is approaching. But we needn’t wait for a new year to make a new start. In Lamentations 3:22-23, we read: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Let us renew our life of gratitude in Christ today for the gifts he has bestowed on us. Start a “Notebook of Praise and Thanks.” Each day, add one thing for which you are grateful. Add encouraging Bible verses on refrigerator magnets or calendars. Connect with happy people, those that encourage you to reach for your lost dreams, or those who refill your empty optimism tank.
Will you be happy all the time? There’s nothing in the scriptures to indicate that we are to be deliriously happy every minute of the day. However, in time (God’s time), we grow more confident and joyful and have the strength to overcome the problems that come our way. We’ll possess a sense of peace and contentment—a peace that passes all understanding—and one that comes only through having the Spirit of Jesus dwelling and reigning in us.
To God, be the glory!
Photo credit: Mike Page @kaltenbergmike