Tuesday, May 31, 2011

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Born Again 4: He Rewards Those Who Earnestly Seek Him

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Sharon's emotional letter had come at the end of the day.  She had such a way of opening so many doors at once that I felt overwhelmed. How on earth could I compose a response in the few minutes I had? Yet here she was laying her soul bare, and I could neither leave her hanging nor dismiss her with a curt reply.

She was doing all the hard work, making my calling comparatively simple: keep up! But I needed more time!
I regret that I don't have more time right now to spend writing you ... I have to go pick up my kids from piano and I'm still in DC (50 miles from home). So once again, I can only promise that I will sit down and construct a worthy reply to your very open and honest letter.
To stop here would be the very definition of "curt".  I pressed on.  It seemed important to recognize all that Sharon had opened up to thus far. It was truly an extraordinary display of transparency. She needed and deserved acknowledgement for her courage. But now it was time to overcome my natural caution (or, less charitably, my natural cowardice) and get down to brass tacks. 

Was she in need of salvation, or merely assurance?  I couldn't be sure, but based on her candor I no longer feared giving offence, so I assumed the former and moved ahead:
For now, please allow me to remind you of something: "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6) The great thing about following Christ is that the journey begins from where you are. That's why Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)

Don't worry about the past, or where you've been, or how "lost" you are. Everything is in front of you:

"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ--yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:7-14)

That, my dear friend, is where true peace lies. Ask, seek, knock. You will find Him there ready to receive you with open arms.
I pressed the "Send" button with a wave of gratitude tarnished only by a hint of doubt.  The gratitude sprung from my sense of great privilege at being chosen for this sacred charge, a moment toward which I'd truly done so little to contribute--indeed, perhaps not a little to impede many years ago.  The doubt came from my inner pessimist.  Sharon was reaching the threshhold of eternity.  When she at last arrived and counted the cost, would she pull back?

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