by Pastor Tim Burt
One day you will come to the end of your life. It may come sooner than you hoped or thought. I almost lost my life twice - once in a traffic incident and once in a near miss on an airplane. By the grace of God, I wasn’t hurt in either but I honestly believe there was miraculous intervention in both. After each of those incidents, it was almost like I went into a type of shock. I just couldn’t stop thinking about how my life had almost ended.
The first time I almost lost my life, I didn’t know the Lord except through the religious upbringing I was exposed to. Religion confused me, created questions I couldn’t find answers to, and eventually led me from God because of my disappointment to find real answers. My thoughts after the first near death experience were completely different from the second. After the car incident, I didn’t think so much about what would have happened to me if I had died. I blocked those kinds of thoughts out because my path in life was hell-bound and I knew it. Saying, "I don't believe in Hell," somehow made me feel better although deep down I didn't believe that either. What I did think about was that the two people in the car with me were almost killed. I had fallen asleep at the wheel and it almost cost us all our lives. It triggered the beginning process of self-examination of my life.
Then in the aircraft near miss, our plane missed a head on collision with another aircraft by a short distance. I had received Jesus as my personal Savior by that time. The thoughts I had after that incident again triggered this long season of reflection. I knew I would have gone to Heaven to be with the Lord if I had died, but what bothered me most was that I had no confidence that I would hear those words from Matthew 25:21: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” It was like I flashed back through my life over and over going back to the day I had given it to the Lord. I began to feel great regret that I wasted this new and precious life in Him by being far to focused on my happiness than being a blessing and influence for Him. I would not have been satisfied. I felt like I would have been embarrassed.
Theologically, I am confident that we won't stand before the Lord and feel embarrassed and I don’t want to get hung up on that thought. It will be glorious the moment we stand in the presence of the Lord. The point I am making is that I wasn’t satisfied with my efforts to live my life daily to be an influence and touch of His love to others - serving Him wholeheartedly up to that time.
I believe that many if not most Christians occasionally 'park by the side of the road' in their walk with God. What I mean by that is they come to know Jesus and life’s purpose but eventually become distracted and end up spending more time pursuing their own selfish desires. Living for God soon takes the back seat in life. No one wants to admit that but there is usually plenty of evidence. People’s lives too easily become side-tracked and distracted by cares or problems, by the lure and pursuit of carnal things, or embarrassment from persecution that comes from being a Christian. Someone might attack what you believe, a Christian leader you respect, or maybe even your church if your church is making a difference. They make you feel embarrassed and weird so you water down and compromise pull back from God. Persecution is designed to bring embarrassment.
Satan is out to stop the gospel of Jesus Christ and the blessing of God in a believer’s lives at any cost. He will lie, deceive, and persecute in order to kill, steal, and destroy. He’ll use rumor, gossip, innuendo, character assassination – whatever he can get people to believe to embarrass Christians, distract them, and knock them off course.
Jesus who had done no wrong was always lied about. His enemies plotted evil and wicked plots to stop Him. Judas betrayed Him and His disciples fled and deserted Him in His worst hour. The Apostle Paul faced the same thing. His enemies vowed not to eat until they killed him. Paul had liars continually persecuting him and reciting false charges against him. He ended up in prison having done no wrong – being innocent of every charge, and many of his followers were too embarrassed of their leader being in prison. They backed away from Paul and eventually their life in God. Paul had to write to his followers, “Be not therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.”(2Timothy 1:8)
I regret any time I have ever ‘parked by the side of the road’ in my heart and wasted precious time distracted from that which is so important in this life – that which I will stand before Jesus about at the end of my life. I want to stir up what God deposited within me and cast these distractions aside and follow Paul’s consul to Timothy!
2 Tim 1: 8-10 (Message Bible) “So don't be embarrassed to speak up for our Master or for me, His prisoner. Take your share of suffering for the gospel along with the rest of us. We can only keep on going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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