…by Beth Bevan
I am somewhat of a masochist and seem to enjoy the messages that make me uncomfortable and convicted….I feel renewed and purposeful rather than shamed and scorned. I love that topics that I am either tackling or avoiding seem to come up at church as well, as if God Himself is really trying to drive something home with me. He does that. His Holy Spirit will stir things within me, and then He will use a conversation or a message series to drive it home.
It’s always fun for me to see lessons with imagery. And, as I said earlier, I even enjoy it when I’m looking at that imagery knowing I’m not where I’m supposed to be. Greg used three different “chairs” to drive home where we could be on our Journey to follow God. A recliner, an office chair and an altar. The recliner is the “Come and See” stage of our journey….when we’re here, we’re the observer and the consumer. This stage is vital with all of us, it’s where we get to take in and experience His grace and His love without really committing. It’s where I started out when I first started coming to this church with my faith back in 2005. But it’s not where you really want to stay. There is no sacrifice, no discomfort, no pain–no gain. That’s where the next step, or chair, comes in…the office chair. The office chair is the “Come and follow” stage of our journey. It’s where we do work, believing that the “stretching” that comes from it is worth it. But it’s also still pretty comfortable. I can see this image well…I work in an office and in an office chair. I know that a good part of my day, I’m sitting on the edge of it and getting a lot of work done, my sore neck and shoulders at the end of each day are signs of said work. But I also know that if I lean back in it, take some time and do nothing, that it is pretty darn comfortable. That can be our walk. We can do some pretty amazing things, get work done, be uncomfortable…but we know it’s temporary and that all we have to do is simply lean back and it’s over. We have to know in the back of our minds, at some point, that there is more to our spiritual growth and in our walk. Which leads to the last chair….the altar. The altar is the “Come and Die” stage of our walk. It’s not comfortable. But it is not miserable either. This is the stage in our lives where we can truly live. We have given up our earthly lives to follow God, knowing we will gain so much more for doing so. This is the stage when we make decisions that are not comfortable, not the norm, time and time again so that we can honor God. In our world today, culture tells us this step is not needed and completely crazy. But it is a broken world and we need to be intentional about who or what we choose to follow. The world is broken, but our God is not. When he put on skin and came to this world to walk, and talk and experience what it is we experience, He didn’t promise us a life of comfort. In fact, He said the exact opposite. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Jesus, in Matthew 16:24-25).
I can honestly say that I’ve been on the altar, but I don’t reside there. It’s not an answer I’m proud of, but it’s an answer that I can humbly take responsibility for. And, as I said earlier, I’m all about convictions and purpose, especially when it is to better honor my God, whose grace is sufficient for me. I’m thankful to be going to Suncrest, who has a heart for not leaving me where I am and will give me all the help, encouragement and tools I need to better my walk. Suncrest finds these “tools” to be in its 4 C’s….when we Cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus, Connect in relationships where truth meets life, Contribute by serving and Care about those far from God, how can we not strengthen our walks? Knowing Jesus personally, having accountability and people who will speak truth into my life, serving this God who loved and served me first and caring about those who don’t know Him sounds sacrificial, uncomfortable and completely worth it.