Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bike secrets to the abundant life in Christ

I recently had a conversation with a pastor friend who shared with me that he was having difficulty trusting God.  Does it surprise you that someone who often preached on the topic of grace was afraid to release control and trust God? Yes, pastors, theologians and regular believers, we all have issues. On one hand, letting go and trusting God may be one of the most difficult things to do. Yet, on the other, it is also the key to experiencing the abundant life that Jesus came to give us!
We all can accept an idea as being true but our struggle is moving from head knowledge to heart, from embracing to embodying the truth. This is where the rubber meets the road.  Truth is not worth much if we can't or don't apply it to our lives.  My pastor friend knew the truth, he just didn't or for various reasons, couldn't trust God enough to put his life in God's hands and live it out.

The big question for all Christians is how do I actually "pick up my cross and follow Jesus"?  I've discovered that as I attempt to live out this life in Christ, the depth of this new experience is incredibly difficult to comprehend.  It's like jumping into the ocean and being told to discover what's on the bottom.  Where do I begin and how do I accomplish this? How do I live by and in God's grace and not do this life on my own?

The wonderful thing I've learned over time is that I don't have to discover it all or do it all, over night. I can relax and learn from God as I pray, read and study his word allowing God to shape Me.  Begin to take your steps as a baby would learning to walk. Don't allow yourself to slip into shame and guilt of the performance lifestyle that our culture demands. You don't have to measure up to God.  He is our standard but Jesus has taken your place and He will help you live the life He has for you.  

One of my favorite poems gives us another wonderful picture of this life in Christ: 

A Tandem Ride With God
I used to think of God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there, sort of like a president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I didn't really know Him.

But later on, when I met Jesus, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Jesus was in the back helping me pedal. I didn't know just when it was He suggested we change, but life has not been the same since I took the back-seat to Jesus, my Lord. 

He makes life exciting. When I had control, I thought I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points.

But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places and at break-through speeds; it was all I could do to hang on! Even though it often looked like madness, He said, "Pedal!" 

I was worried and anxious and asked, "Where are you taking me?" He laughed and didn't answer and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into adventure. And when I'd say, "I'm scared", He'd lean back and touch my hand.

He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me their gifts to take on my journey, our journey, my Lord's and mine. And we were off again. He said, "Give the gifts away; they're extra baggage, too much weight." So I did, to the people we met, and I found in giving I received, and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He'd wreck it, but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, jump to clear high rocks, fly to shorten scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I'm beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus.

And when I'm sure I just can't do any more, He just smiles and says... "Pedal."
(Author unknown)

I love the poem because it gives such a wonderful picture of grace. Jesus is in control of the direction, yet I'm pedaling!  He doesn't want me just being an observer. But Jesus is pedaling also, providing the power.  

As you dive into the deep "grace life" of Jesus Christ, as you allow Him to pedal, you'll discover many riches.  These are some that I have found or experienced, that I believe are available to all who choose to follow Christ, some we may experience right away, while others may take longer.  I pray you are experiencing these and more.  
  • You will discover a new purpose for living, so much greater than living for self.
  • You will be able to rest comfortably knowing that you don't have to have control of people and all things in your life.
  • You will begin to make choices that benefit others more than yourself, loving people, not using them for your benefit. 
  • You will swim against the stream, bucking the trend of popularity, power, and the materialistic life our culture promotes.
  • You will be able to face your fears and not be afraid to fail. 
  • You will begin to choose to risk pain and suffering over security and comfort.
  • When you put your head on your pillow at night, you will rest in peace, not anxious and worried about what may happen the next day, month or year.  
  • You will be excited about what each new day brings and look forward to the adventure that Christ has prepared for you.
  • You will begin to love God and live out the principles and truths that you preach or teach.
  • You will understand grace more and more and yet you'll discover that the ocean of God's love and grace is deeper and wider than you ever imagined.  
What other tangible riches of His abundant life have you experienced?

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