For Christmas last year, my sister got me a great new chair for my desk at work. The instructions to put it together were moderately easy, but like with most things that come with a packet of directions, I gave up before I even tried. #inspirationquotes
My dad put most of it together, but couldn’t finish it because it wouldn’t fit in my car (my dad’s worst nightmare: halfway completing a project and entrusting me with the end result. He had little confidence).
Before I left for Grand Rapids, he repeatedly tried to explain the steps to successfully put the parts together. Clear instructions.
I listened to 0% of his explanation. I saw his mouth moving and arms flailing (Dad talks with his hands) and thought about other things. Probably food.
Later, I arrived to work with half of my chair, left it like that for a week, and then followed just one direction my dad told me to do, and got someone to put it together for me.
Multi-step instructions have never been my cup of tea. No patience for them.
Speaking of my lack of patience (my boyfriend is working with me on this, along with perseverance in adversity), I was on a plane a few months ago flying to see my sister in Florida. I was gazing out the window, probably fidgeting recklessly and daydreaming about snack food, when the flight attendant began her safety presentation.
Conversations continued, people kept their headphones in, and almost no one was paying attention, including me.
I have sat through probably 100 explanations of how to tighten the oxygen mask around my face, but honestly, I rarely listen. Due to my inability/unwillingness to think critically and problem solve and my less than impressive attention span, it is clear that my odd of survival are dismal in an emergency situation. Hope I’m sitting next to an engineer or someone from the show LOST. They have been through it all.
While the chances of a plane going down are incredibly slim, the information the attendants give us really is life or death.
How casually we chat with the person next to us, as the voice of a stranger calmly and robotically tells us where to find our life preserver in case of a crash landing into the ocean.
The irony of it struck me. While I try to get a sneak peek at the Flight Attendant cart, trying to identify if this is an airline that gives snacks or not, there are simultaneous instructions on how to not die.
Like I said, the chances of a plane crashing are tiny.
But what if we knew for sure the plane was going down?
How much differently would we behave during that demonstration?
I would be hanging on their every word, taking notes, and preparing myself as best as I could to not only save my life, but to help save the lives of those around me.
As morbid as it seems, this life we live is a plane that eventually is going down.
Not one of us is getting out alive.
My heart has been breaking more than ever as I observe and read about the world around us.
Yet, amidst the heartache and trials and tribulations, I have hope. I have confidence. I have peace.
I can float through life refusing to put together any sort of furniture and end up fine.
I can ignore the directions while making Snickerdoodle cookies, and while disappointed and inexplicably surprised, mediocre cookies aren’t that big of a deal.
Truly, there is only one set of instructions that I need to listen to that matter at all: it’s the set of instructions that graces the pages of my Bible. The Gospel.
Because my plane is going down. Will I be ready?
I have no idea when this world will end nor when Jesus will come back again, nor when my last day on earth will be. Prophecies have been being fulfilled for two thousand years, and it could be another two thousand more (for the end of the world, not my life span). But whether Jesus comes back in my lifetime or not, it is my job to do everything I can to point others to Him in this life.
I dove into the book of Revelation last year. The study of the end times. I wish I could tell you it’s all going to be okay.
But if there is one thing I took away from that confusing, many times frightening book, is that unless you know Jesus, it’s not going to be okay.
Fortunately for us, He is a patient God, who wants all of us to know Him and be known by Him.
I’ve searched and I’ve looked for other ways for it to be okay. I’ve studied other religions, different interpretations of our Bible and at times, even wished that I was wrong about my faith.
Because if I was wrong about my faith, then I wouldn’t have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I wouldn’t have to ache for the people who don’t know Jesus.
I left that study with a feeling of urgency.
My life, at times, has been a really poor example of that Biblical set of instructions. I have failed more times than I can count. I have made some decisions that I am ashamed of. I have hurt others with my words and with my actions.
Sometimes I am scared to loudly proclaim the name of Jesus because the last thing I want to be is a hypocrite or a poor representation of His name. I want to wait until I have that area of sin under control, until I don’t struggle with anxiety or until I have every question answered and everything figured out.
But there is no time to wait.
And that’s the amazing thing about grace.
In my weakness, in my imperfection, in my failings and shortcomings, I can still proclaim the name of Jesus.
Because it isn’t about me.
It’s about Him. While my life can be a living sacrifice, I shouldn’t be pointing others to me. I should be pointing others to Him with my life. My messy, imperfect life.
I don’t deserve it, yet it is freely given to me.
I can’t imagine being next to someone on a plane, knowing it was going to crash, and withholding the information necessary for them to survive.
So why do I sometimes cower in fear over sharing my faith? Why do I sometimes neglect to say anything, when all I was supposed to do was say something?
I should be urgently, out of love, pointing others to the cross. In my words. In my actions. With my life.
The challenge to myself and to all believers is to live boldly and live loudly for Jesus. Don’t hide the life changing knowledge you have. Wear it. Live it; not in judgment and arrogance, pushing others away in isolation, but in a way that draws others in with gentleness and love.
Sometimes it is planting seeds. It doesn’t mean standing on a street corner shouting about eternal damnation. Sometimes it is laying the foundation for someone to notice something different about your life. I fully believe that one day we will all see the amazing intricacy that is God’s plan, and how all of our actions were woven together to fulfill his purpose.
I’ve got a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work to do. Times are scary. But our God is big. Let’s get started.
Blessings, not chins