In the boom of 1950’s television, a program called “This Is Your Life” began, with host Ralph Edwards. The show featured regular guests and celebrities alike who were confronted with people and stories from their past, to be then reunited on live television.
The host carried a large red book, from which he read passages of facts of the lives of the guests, who were brought to the set often by surprise invitation. After hearing stories of their pasts, and the voices of those from days gone by, the reunions occurred and the results were always entertaining.
Today I am reflecting on my own past — the events which occurred leading to this very day, what people I have encountered, the things I did and said, and the places I have been . . . and what of the things and people of the past? Now mostly just memories, some coupled with experiences that exist only in my mind.
Some memories and experiences good, some bad, some I don’t remember. Probably better that way.
But now in our third year of missionary life in Japan, I’m reminded more than ever to consider what the Bible says about “your life.” Japanese life and culture is not only different from the American culture in which I was born and raised, but there are experiences we face today based on the choice we made to follow God. Some are very difficult, some a great joy. Some evoke the desire to complain, but we do our best to give God glory for even the difficult times. To not gripe about the life in Him that we chose to follow. We did not invent this path or carve it out of the jungle of life with our spiritual machetes. It was God who opened the door of opportunity to see what lies ahead. And wow, what a road it has been and continues to be.
This was the life He planned for us, and the one we are living as a result. So, what is not to be content with? That answer lies in the even deeper waters of our walk and relationship with Him. If God is a casual acquaintance, all of life will be a struggle against the flesh because we would never be certain “is THIS my life?” I may be wrong, but I sense there are many Christians today who are not really sure if THIS is the life they were called to live. I am not suggesting anyone is wrong, only that I am not even sure myself where I would be spiritually if we had not done what we knew the Lord wanted us to do, and that was to listen, know, and then do what He said regarding moving to Japan. It was not difficult mentally, because we had His divine assurance as a family.
Now everyone has a different walk with God, including whether or not we are open to His leading, our daily choices, lifestyle, career choices, family choices. So many decisions; which way to go at every turn is an ever-present challenge. But if we understand that our lives are not ours to lead and move around, things begin to have new emphasis, new direction and new depth.
Will God have a giant book which says, “This Is Your Life,” and introduce people from our past, reminding us of our past and things we did and said?
Yes and no. The Bible says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” And Psalm 103:12 tells us clearly that our sins are removed from us “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” That’s good news!
But wait . . . the Bible also tells us that everyone will be accountable for every idle word, and that we will be rewarded for things we did in the body (that is here, on earth).
2 Cor. 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
And moreover, if you have chosen to follow Christ, we do not belong even to our own selves.
1 Cor. 6:20 “For you have been bought with a price; be glorifying God with your body and with your spirit, which are God’s.”
If we ask ourselves, “Is THIS my life?” In other words, is this what God intended for me? Is this the plan He has for me? If my life is not my own, but a purchased life through Jesus Christ, how am I really supposed to live it? The Bible is clear that we are to take up our own crosses, and live a life after Christ Himself: sacrifice, service to others, obedience, honor, suffering. But not only these things. There is also joy, abundant life, fellowship, and peace. There is fulfillment in knowing God, in hearing His voice above the noise and in doing what you know is the will of God for that moment in time, until your life is completely finished here on earth.
Years ago I had a very strange dream that I was lifted from planet earth by the Holy Spirit, sucked away backward into outer space, watching the earth get smaller and smaller. Once in space, all things on the earth disappeared and only people were left wandering around wondering what to do. No buildings, no homes, no stuff. Just a bald, barren planet with humans in search of something, wandering. No way to build anything new, no money, no food, just earth and people. Born from the dust, left to die to the dust.
God told me in that dream that life without Him is void and barren. Without Him, there is no purpose and people are looking for things to do, places to go. The stuff of life is a smokescreen which often hides the more important things of the spiritual life, and that the stuff of life is very compelling but has no ability to save, or to change lives for eternity. It was one of the most powerful dreams I ever had, and I recall it frequently.
That being said, I want to ask you, my friend : “Is THIS your life?” Is this the life you were called to lead, the godly, sin-forsaken life which leads to life and godliness? Have you buried a God-given dream, allowed others or the stuff of life to move you rather than the Holy Spirit Himself? This asking is not a challenge from me to you, but a heart full of desire for you to be where God wants you TODAY. It starts not with DOING, but with BEING in His presence, hearing, knowing and then doing.
I am telling you the truth in this. But don’t trust me — trust God.