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Saturday, December 10, 2016

The only gift we ALL need...

Look, I know that you are not stupid. And I know that you are probably wandering through life, in many ways, just like I am. You know something's not quite right. You know the world isn't the way it's supposed to be. There's too much pain; too much suffering, and not enough love, not by a longshot.

You've been to church. You've met so-called Christians. You WISH there had been more to it, but were left feeling empty. So now, you disappear into the routines of every day. Step 1 thru Step 9, and then you go to sleep and start it all over again. You wish there was something more, but science has proven there isn't. So you just go on, doing the best you can. And as Henry David Thoreau put it, you "live a life of quiet desperation."

There's a part of you, bruised and battered because every time it speaks up, you hit is with your fists until your knuckles are raw and bleeding. But this part will not be silent, not completely. It whispers to you: "There is more." It makes your skin crawl with the idea that this life is not all there is. And somehow, some way, you know you were meant to travel on, to be transcendent. That the grave will not consume you whole, but will let some inner part of you go.

I wish I could reach out to each one of you and somehow change your heart. But all I can do is tell you what I've seen and what I know. As the apostles said, "Gold and silver, I do not have but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."

That's right. Walk. You think all this life has been is walking. No. This life is a long distance crawl, and worse, it's like Atlas pushing that stupid stone world up the hill, only for it to come rolling back down around us or over us. You're so right. This world SUCKS. This world is NOT what it should have been. And this world is NOT all there is.

Jesus came and picked me out of a strawberry field. That's my story. I was working at one of those pick-your-own strawberry patches, and it was my senior year at UMCP. An old old friend came out that late afternoon to pick strawberries. He ended up picking me. He simply asked "How are you doing?" And somehow, against my better judgment, I did not respond with the usual, "Fine, how are you." Instead, I said, "I'm actually awful."

And that was such a strange thing for me to say. I had just graduated near the top of my class. I had letters of recommendation that made me blush because of the high praise. I was quite certain of a teaching position and quite certain I would become the next Stephen King. But God revealed to me that I was broken. I left a relationship with a very sweet young lady, in the worst possible way. And the future, to me, looked more of a burden than anything else.

I had this pressure on my chest. I can't explain it. But it was like God pointed His finger directly into my pectoral muscle. All day long, I felt it. And I cried out to everyone I trusted, trying desperately to explain what I was experiencing. But the only person who had a clue about what I felt was the old friend who came out to the strawberry field.

He said, "Wayne, could it be that God is trying to get your attention?" He went on to babble a TON about Jesus and being born again and all that. And I nodded a lot. But, honestly, I didn't really care "what" he was saying. But I was absolutely captivated by the peace that he wore like a glow in the dark suit. He had, I knew, something I had never ever had. There was peace and security and well, a sense of love and belonging that I'd never thought possible.

So we agreed to meet together to read through the bible's book of Romans together, and I read Romans 7 and it hit me over the head like a sledgehammer. It was a full color portrait of me, but written 2000+ years before my birth. I was stunned. And I prayed that Jesus would forgive my sins (many, many, many sins). And I believed in Jesus for eternal life.

My life didn't instantly become a JOYFUL merry go round. It has been a struggle. I have doubted more than God deserves, and I have struggled and fought, and came kicking and screaming back to the realization that God. IS. REAL. That, JESUS, IS. REAL. And that He is both GOOD and LOVING, and calling out to all of us. The transcendence I feel in my deepest heart, I now realize is eternity calling. An eternity with Jesus in a world that knows no pain, no tears, no sickness, and no death.

When my father died last October (2015), the bottom dropped out from under my feet. Suddenly, death was something real and for those left behind, crushingly permanent. Look, you can deny it all you want, but you are going to die. You may be hitting the gym and eating kale all the time, but still, the death ratio is 100 to 0. No matter how much fun you can fill your life with, it's going to end. And likely, people you love will be taken before you, and you will feel the aching emptiness of that loss. This is no joke. This isn't funny. No movie, no book, no alcohol or drug can take away this truth: you will die. And though you invest in stocks and bonds, though you have the greatest life insurance known to man, though you have given careful thought to the legacy you will leave are still leaving.

There's a place in you, battered like your bloody knuckles, a place that is weeping quietly that everything you've done in this world, every single act, every memory, and every experience, will melt away when you die. There's a divine melancholy that hits you at the end of every birthday, every Christmas, every Vacation. A very real sense that what should be....didn't last as long as it should have. And, if you're honest, you'll see that this feeling is real.

All I'm saying is this: I'm 48, the wrong side of forty. You might be fifteen, thirty, twenty-four, or sixty. It doesn't matter. Time will kill you. And after? There will be eternal life. One way or the other. You will not disintegrate and be no more. You will live on. I beg of you, look for Jesus. Read the book of John or read Romans and see. Taste God and see that He is good. He's not closed minded and intolerant as the modern press would preach. Instead, He offers eternity to EVERYONE who would believe in Jesus and what He did on the cross, saving us from our sins.

I hope I've got a lot of time left. I want to see my kids graduate high school and college. I want to see them get married and make a dent for good in this world. I want to write a gazillion more books. But more than anything else, I want to see people believe in Jesus and be forgiven. I want to see you all in the GREATEST PARTY IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE. In heaven. That's our real home. As much as this world doesn't feel quite right, Heaven with Jesus will feel like the far off country we've always felt rumor of. And it will be ours to share with the Lord forever.

If you've read this and believed in Jesus, please message me. If you have questions, doubts, flaming rebuttals, etc, message me.