So , I finally realized that I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I fought the good fight, I applied concealer, I highlighted my hair but alas today I entered into the aging graciously stage. Maybe not so much graciously, but I’m definitely entering into another aging phase. Today, I had the annual eye exam. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my eyesight is doing well and blood vessels are all healthy. I rejoiced to find out they no longer use the “puffer” thing that makes you want to yell and run. That’s progress.
What I did find out though was surprising to me as they asked the usual questions about family history, health and medications. I grew up around smokers but have never smoked. God’s a lot more concerned about mean words defiling someone than smoking so this isn’t a blog to condemn smokers. There’s no judgement here and breaking a sugar habit has given me a huge appreciation for those trying to quit. I do want to give a 411 to my blog friends because I was shocked by this information today: Did you know that those who smoke are four times, FOUR TIMES more likely to get macular degeneration than those who don’t? I know people who struggle with this and endure getting shots right in their eyeball. It’s excruciating to even think about it. My response was, “Wow, why don’t they put that on the cigarette ads?” Some parents even give their kids permission to smoke. They have nagged for so long they just give up. Smoking looks cool, eye surgeries… not so much. There are only so many things you can say to prevent harm to a teenager, or adult for that matter. It reminded me of a verse in Acts 14, I had read earlier in the week:
15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a LIVING God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. (Read the context for this section- it’s not about smoking but worshiping idols that are not God. The things listed are now known to be harmful but were not back then. God in His wisdom warned people but many did not heed the warnings to their own peril.) Here’s the verse to note:
16 In past generations He ALLOWED all the nations to walk in their own ways.
God spoke with them, led them, had prophets prophesy to them, gave them commands, precepts and even instructions on stone tablets, exiled them and then we hear one of the saddest sentences ever:
He allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways.
It’s that sticky subject of free will. Free will says our children choose their own clothes, college or possible demise. Free will says adults can make their own moral choices, even if it damages their kids. Free will is what differentiates God from the other religions as He loves us to much to make us into slaves or robots. There comes a point where God warns, warns and then … allows them or us to play it out. He full well knows that “their own ways” will not accomplish His will. He understands that “our own ways” will not produce righteousness or fruitfulness but His will. It feels… well, reckless. It certainly isn’t cautious. He is not concerned about others opinions but reaching US. He knows there may be consequences but suspends His absolute authority for a higher cause- our freedom to choose Him or to reject Him. He takes the risk because pure love lets people make even the choice to walk away. The expression is you can bring a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Freedom means one can choose their own god or the Lord God. For some it leads to life and favor and for others it leads to death. God in His compassion gives each individual the “right” to choose. Forced choices only lead to stone cold hearts. God’s patience is meant for us to discover who He is and to fall in love with His will and character. It must break His heart when people choose their own way.
A loving father (or mother) will not leave their kids up to their own choices or decisions, especially if they are harmful. God gives direction, wisdom and even the Holy Spirit but each individual has to decide if they will listen, hear or follow. God is so loving but this freedom to walk in one’s own ways – that’s serious business. In plain English it’s “do your own thing, but then expect your own rewards.” Favor from God is NOT like the what the TV preachers say about wealth and fame. Favor with God looks like peace, rest and communion with Him. You just can’t get that in a bottle, title or cigarette. You also can’t get it in a stained glass church, ministry position or the lottery. Sola Eirene – Peace only comes from God (Jesus) and living in HIS truth. Living out your “own truth” is fine, but then you must expect —
your own payment,
entire, eternal system.
Ouch! That’s pretty crazy to work all that out on your own – minus a Savior.
Following God as an individual, family, church and nation means we follow HIS ways. The problem with this solution is that we don’t always know what His ways are, so how can we follow them? We can “ostrich” it and just pretend we don’t know or can’t see them, but eventually those excuses will run out. For those wanting to know how to know God’s ways:
- Get in the word – all the answers regarding God’s heart are in there.
- Get around folks who know God and His word
- Seek out wise counsel from those who live according to God’s ways
- Pray and seek God’s will rather than others opinions or even spirituality
If we follow leaders who are not following God’s ways we should not be surprised if we end up in the Best Buy parking lot instead of Glory. If we entertain ungodly leaders in our minds, televisions or conversations, we should not be surprised if our lives end up, Stormy. IF there is no push back to the way we are living, it may not be that God is okey dokey with our lifestyle choices, it may be that He has left us up to them! The crowd will yell at whoever is top dog but that does NOT mean that they know how to walk in any truth or follow after the God of the Universe. These matters are way too important to leave our information gathering to fake news or biased think tanks. We must and need to know God’s word and will at such a time as this. Hollywood vs. Holy Cross – who directs your life? Just pause for a minute… the God who created the Universe left us an instruction manual. That’s mind blowing. There is a complete way to KNOW Him. He did not leave us without answers. He loved us so much He wanted us to know how to follow Him and be in a personal relationship with Him. That’s cool.
While some people look under every rock for sin and fall into condemnation there are others who go their own way and are perpetually unaware of the absence of God in their lives. They wrongly think that actions today will not have eternal consequences tomorrow. God’s favor doesn’t come from popular opinion or Facebook posts or even twitter followers. You can be surrounded with hundreds of friends saying everything is perfectly alright but God waits, sometimes in silence for the man, the woman, the child who will be fully committed, fully devoted to Him. The one whose heart is postured to follow His ways, will most certainly find Him.
I want to live a life for Gods’ purpose and power, not just skating by in His permissive will, escaping final death. “Lord, do not leave us to our own devices, doing what “feels right” in the moment. Only YOU Lord, can see what is on the other of our every decision. Only YOU know the full ramifications of our successes and mistakes. Only YOU know the outcome of our daily choices. Help us to serve, choose and love YOU with a FULL Heart today! We don’t want permission to go our own way and do our own thing, we want YOUR will, YOUR best and to go after YOUR heart. Amen. Seeking Him with you,