By: Lyle J. Rapacki, Ph.D.
“God interrupted our ordinary expectations to conceive something we could never have imagined. We may not even understand what is occurring or why, but we have the choice to choose, or not, to receive His ways and realize His ways are not our ways.”
I‘m convinced if the original Disciples of Christ knew the cost of walking with Him, they would certainly have backed out of the deal. I’m convinced if I had known the cost of walking with Christ, I certainly would have run away…and kept on running! I also now believe that true Christianity, not the “feel good happy times” form taught in most churches today, is an experience in losing the lives of our dreams in order to receive the life Jesus died to give us. Our eternal salvation is secured by our initial decision to accept Jesus Christ’s forgiveness, and invite Him into our heart, our being. Conversion on the other hand is the lifelong process of turning away from our plans and turning toward God’s seemingly disruptive creativity. This fact of true Christianity slowly became reality for the original Disciples of Christ except Judas who chose not to abandon his plans, his wants, his loyalty to the god of this world; Judas was not happy with the disruptive creativity Jesus ordered, preferring to choose the nice sounding promises and trinkets given out by Satan.
To be “born again” is to discover ourselves as infants in the gracious arms of God. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less. We cannot manipulate God. He won’t pay attention to us more if we figure out a way to become His favorite child. He won’t love us more if we write letters like the one you are reading now, or lead worship in front of thousands, or lead Bible Studies and feed masses; or heck, even wash someone else’s car unannounced! We assume God’s love is tied to something – maybe our performance, maybe sacrifices; our good work in His Name…there has to be something! But His Word is quite clear – God’s love (and His choice to like us, too) is rooted in His own merciful nature. There is NOTHING we can do to earn this precious gift, and as I have taught, there is NOTHING we have or could do to warrant the gift.
Learning to walk with the Lord in my own transparency, sharing the missteps and errant paths I have walked and in which I still struggle, I have agreed to lose my plans and accept the life Jesus had waiting for me written “before the beginning of time.” Similar to the original disciples who chose to follow Christ, I have steadily come to know (and accept) when God calls a person, He calls the whole person, every bit. This includes the broken parts, as well as the plans we have personally and carefully constructed, guarded; the weaknesses deep inside no one knows about, and we have worked diligently to even hide from God out of fear He might reject us, or at least look most unfavorably upon us. You know the roots of bitterness and abandonment and shame; the horrors we experienced long, long ago we pretend no longer exist – except when they replay at odd hours of the night/day. The yearnings that have nothing to do with serving God, but rather serving our feeble attempts to place the monsters still lurking in the closets deep inside of us back into those closets.
Over the previous year, I began to ask Abba (Father) to intervene in my life in a new (for me anyway) manner to expose these monsters that serve no purpose other than to hobble and keep me from the vibrancy in Christ the first disciples experienced even with their own ups and downs. Asking God to intervene in your life after you have walked with Him many years is sobering. For me anyways, I had adjusted to the harshness in life, the unfairness, the arrows directed at me – even from Christians, even supposed Christian ministry leaders! We have been lulled by Satan to believe that as long as life is not tragic, we can tolerate being dissatisfied. What a lie! Nowhere in Scripture does hope appear for those who have learned to just cope, to walk in resignation that a better life is not for them, and to be grateful for what little crumbs of happiness comes their way.
My accepting a renewed radical walk with Christ taught me that sometimes God interrupts our lives and even our prayers, and offers us a terrifying opportunity to serve Him in a manner we would never have thought; to receive a truly glorious and exciting mission we never imagined would or could be ours. God did this with Mary, Jesus’ mom.
Mary didn’t seek favor with God, rather, she loved the Lord and wanted all He had for her – a most dangerous prayer. Mary played by all the rules, she was a “good girl” and remained a virgin. By rights she should have been allowed to pursue her dreams. But what we have coming to us by rights is exactly what God overlooks when He decides to grant us His favor…His grace…His plans for us from the beginning. Our views of those in Scripture are so sanitized that we have poor appreciation of their circumstances when God comes calling. Mary is portrayed most of the time as quiet and with a serene smile. But that is not the picture of her in Luke’s Gospel, at least at the onset. Read it!
Mary began to realize her life was out of control. How could this be!? A life so well constructed that has to be abandoned. Think about her new reality…pregnant but still a virgin!! How about you? A job lost, your character assassinated, a move forced upon you. Another move to be made after the first move. A loved one dies too soon. A church dies when it didn’t need to. The list can almost be endless. These interruptions proclaim life is NOT what we had hoped. It isn’t even what we would settle for if we had the chance initially. God interrupted our ordinary expectations to conceive something we could never have imagined. We may not even understand what is occurring or why, but we have the choice to choose, or not, to receive His ways and realize His ways are not our ways.
When we submit to God’s plan for our life, we do not receive a new identity; rather, He allows us to discover what our true identity has been all along, the identity He created for us prior to our even being born (Psalm 139). The difference is significant. As we make our way through the many abandonments of life and discover the new life in Christ, we slowly come to realize this new life does not look totally strange after all. What it looks like is a purer form of ourselves. It is the self we were created to be from the beginning. It is the restoration of the image of God in our lives. It is the reflection of the very image of Jesus Christ operating in and through us that He graciously waited for us to embrace.
We certainly do not create our own lives. God alone is our creator. So why would His work of leading us to conversion result in something different from what He had intended all along? The saving work of Jesus Christ is that He finds us after we have lost our way trying to become something other than we are and were never meant to become. Our churches would do better to stand in the way of the illusion that religion or anything else is going to help us become something. Instead…the church should be helping people become who they are already, but with the Lord now supreme and functioning freely in and through them, not relying merely on their own talents and strengths.
Those who do understand this hard truth live with gratitude. They are of great use to the ministry of Jesus Christ because they are not preoccupied with making something themselves. They have died to that seductive concept. But when those who far better understand the beauty of who they really are in Christ now move, they impact people positively. After a lifetime of losing in their lives they have matured in such a fashion they can now celebrate still being Ragamuffins, but can also celebrate the truth that the Lord of lords and King of kings looks upon them and smiles graciously, lovingly, and calls them “friend.”
LYLE J. RAPACKI, Ph.D. is an Intelligence and Threat Assessment Specialist who provided selected members of the Arizona State Legislature from 2010 to 2018, briefings and consultations on threats to State and National sovereignty. His reports were enlarged to include elected and law enforcement officials across the country. He is the author of the successful booklet: “Our Forefathers Truly Appealed to Heaven” Amazon Kindle $10.
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