There are rare moments that are exceptional, unrepeatable, and monumentally influential, even life-changing. They don’t necessarily have to be “real.”
Such was the experience I had a few nights ago discussing life with a friend, a divine and eternal friend, Jesus Christ. Our discussion wasn’t audible. It occurred in the spirit of my mind.
The night air was February cold with a Texas wind chill. The lights of the city twinkled in their distance from the water tower hill where we began our walk. In moments I was at ease, graciously placed there by His easy manner. With His hands stuffed in His jacket pockets and His cap tugged down hard on His head, how could I help but be at ease in His presence.
For some time we walked through the neighborhood talking of heavenly places and the goals of our Father for mankind. I watched my breath crystallize in the diffused light of the city as we drew close, like brothers.
I anticipated a different emotion from what I sensed in Him. I expected Him to be somber, with the seriousness of a man carrying the weight of the world on His shoulders. Literally, the weight of the world. I felt He would be concerned about the way the battle for men’s souls was progressing and the influence of the evil one on His creation. That was silly of me. Concerned? Yes. But burdened? He wasn’t burdened at all by the weight He carried. Quite the contrary. It was as though the burdens cast upon Him were without significant weight. He conveyed the confidence that only God could have.
And yet, the intensity of His heart for mankind was unmistakable. To say that He longed for us to fully understand what He accomplished at the cross would be a gross understatement.
As I stood and looked over the southwest side of Fort Worth, I asked Him what He considered to be the key to experiencing His promise that we might have life and have it more abundantly.
Well Pres, the greatest thing that must be understood is that I came to love. There is nothing that I desire more than for man to love to Me back. Relationship. That’s what I’m all about. That’s what heaven is all about. The way I said it in my Book was, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart.” That’s the prime directive. Why on earth does man insist on trying to work for Me? Or repay Me? That portrays Me as pretty needy. Hardly. My greatest desire is no different from man’s. We both desire relationship with each other.
As I listened to Him share His heart with me, I thought of Gene Edwards’ book title, The Divine Romance. Exactly. He wants to love us and for us to love Him. His wishes are straightforward and simple. It’s amazing that God would want such a thing. So much so, in fact, that the enemy has successfully tempted us to qualify what God wants based upon how relationships work in the world.
He added, While loving God is the foundation of relationship, knowing that I live in you and you live in me is your ticket to victory during these days on earth, Pres.
I listened and walked on. It didn’t seem to bother Him that there were houses on either side of the street with lights behind the curtains and blinds, people sitting in front of their fireplaces, TVs on, families, some having good times, some bad. Gut-level I figured He would be half tuned to me and half tuned to the great need around Him. But He had all the time in the world. I didn’t understand, but neither did I think about it for long. Perhaps the enemy was trying to rob me of my moments with Christ.
It was never our plan for man to live the Christian life. Nowhere have we asked this. It is my life that is given to man. It is my responsibility to live my life, and I have made provision for that through the indwelling of my Spirit. It is my goal to help my family understand how to let me live my life. Anything other than that is independence and sin. It doesn’t matter what the performance looks like. If one of my own is living in his own strength, it is failure. It makes no difference if his failure results in him lying in the gutter or teaching a Bible study. Independence is not the goal and never has been. Oh! I wish they would let me live my life through them.
His point was as crisp as the bite of the air on my ears. I remembered other conversations we had on this subject. There was one in particular during a bicycle ride last spring. I was concerned about knowing that He was living His life through me. It was a clear issue of responsibility. In His own inimitable, matter-of-fact way, the thoughts came into my mind, Pres, you are responsible for depending on me. And you must give me the freedom to be responsible to do what I promised. Once again His message was sinking into my heart, and the incredible realization gripped me that Jesus Himself was taking time to guide me in His truth.
If my people would let me live my life through them, the pressure would be off of them. I didn’t come just to get man to heaven. Life is at stake! Certainly there is the victory of heaven to be had, but life must be addressed victoriously as well. Heaven is a wonderful thing, believe me. But if that is the only benefit to what I did on Calvary…. Pres, if that’s all there is, then people have to die to get any gain from my work. I didn’t come so people might be delivered by death to my doorstep. I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly. And, I’m the ticket. However, even as strongly as I feel about this, I must leave the choice in man’s court. After all, this is a love affair, not tyranny.
For some reason I have always pictured Him as the proverbial “still waters run deep.” But here were waves. Emotions. Lots of them. Like surf hitting a rugged shore. I envisioned that His hands were out of His pockets and with them He filled the air with gestures, giving animation to His words. These were not concepts dreamed up by a marketing agency somewhere. This was His heartbeat. We were on His mind. I was on His mind. Only the wind seemed to move as I weighed this thought.
But this goes hand-in-hand with a sense of who you are, He continued, with a mentor’s intensity. How can you be everything you want to be if you are not satisfied with who you are? If a man truly understands who he is, he will know how to live. And if a man understands how to trust me as his life, he will rest in what I think of him. Identity. That is the core of the personal quest of meaning. Even my Father and I have answers to this: Who am I? “I Am Who I Am,” our Father told Moses as He introduced Himself on the mountain. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” I told My disciples. This is so important! My son Solomon said it in an inspired way. “Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Deep within the heart abides identity. Identity either paces the heart’s floor in search of discovery or rests in confidence of having been discovered.
Pres, salvation not only brought life by my living through you, but life by you living in me. Performance and identity, cradled in knowing me. That is Christianity’s master key, which is what you asked about me earlier.
I laughed at the time and miles gone into tomorrow’s ledger. The intensity of the last minutes had served its purpose well. The Lord’s heart had been melded into mine. I reminisced of other walks, other miles, other seasons—but now, this one was getting colder.
As I turned toward the house, we talked of lighter things. I envisioned us guessing at what the temperature might be. I’ll bet it’s close to 20 degrees, but with this wind it probably feels like 10. He knew all along, but it was good to sense that we were communicating. Isn’t that just like Jesus? Living His life through me, honoring the identity He has given me, and going out of His way to build a relationship with me.
“Hi, Babe! Braxie and I are home.” I bent to take the dog’s leash loose.
“You were gone longer than normal. How was the walk?”
“It was great. Cold as a wedge. The wind has cleared the air and you can see for miles. It feels like it’s 10 degrees. Let me get something to drink and I’ll tell you about it.”