Many men gamble for silver and gold.
But my game is different as I get old.
I hunt for a man whose love is real.
Whose care for others anyone can feel.
Such a prize to gain, so beautiful to see,
One whose vibe isn’t “What about ME?”.
To find this heart is to touch the Lord.
Because he himself is slain by the Sword.
Behold, oh world, my quest is done.
Right under my nose, my precious son.
Oh, Abraham, how you love us all.
Set your will to fulfill His call.
You maintain, pack, carry and park,
Sometimes work, morning to dark.
You lift our bags and humor our hearts.
Navigate our ways and find our parts.
The Spirit filled you with His wisdom and touch;
a heart for Jesus who offers so much.
Your nature, we know, is not without sin
It’s your relentless love that proves I win. .
The world won’t care or say a thing
But of your will for the Father, do angels sing.
*(Had to stick in this personal note. No one will ever know the price my children pay or the character of profound sacrificial love they give in this ministry of Jesus to the world. So their old papa will, here and there, be saying what I think angels say. “Rock on dudes”.)
The 2nd Move
Glory to Jesus. We are finally in Brazil. All the way from Colombia, down the coast of Peru, over to Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, and now Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. What a journey. So many miles, so many smiles, so many tears, so many fears. Countries driven and walked by sixteen feet of one family. Not visiting “churches” with sermons but walking streets with signs. Not a token message of status quo Christianity but the personal touch of the living Jesus led by His Spirit. Over 400,000 tracts given out… one by one. Any support anyone gave us is still bearing fruit. Every provision I prayed how to allocate in so many ways so that men today, at this very moment, are still being changed because we were enabled to get to them. May He reward you accordingly.
In the final four hundred miles, while driving through Argentina, five different cops stopped us. There were times it seemed like a conspiracy. Of course it was… Satan opposing us. One wanted a bribe and threatened to confiscate our truck. One said we would have to dismantle the cattle guard. God broke through in each situation. He has great things for us in Brazil.
The poverty and desperation is like being back in Colombia. We shall now learn a new language called Portuguese, new signs and tracts, ways to communicate Jesus, deeper compassion, greater wisdom. Here in the South is a very traditional “gaucho” culture. Truly 3rd world; Hotels advertise “Color TV”.
It was a rainy afternoon when I watched a young man come over to this 30 foot pile of sidewalk trash. He picked through some stuff as any homeless guy would. Then, he bent way down to where the black tarp touches the sidewalk. He lifted it up, knelt down on the sidewalk, and crawled inside. He was home.
So many, many homeless, everywhere you look. Worse than Colombia. It is such a privilege to be on the streets here. A lot of agnostics and atheists.We have already been to our first prison. It is horrible. ‘Oh Father, please have mercy on these precious men.’ I ask you to sit back and imagine their daily routine. Imagine being in a cage in a zoo for an hour; four years; 20 years.
Sometimes I just want to yell “Please somebody help! You don’t realize what’s going on here.” The warden and administrators welcomed us and immediately had us do a presentation for one patio and then two hundred guards. The Warden really has a heart and welcomes anything we will do. Oh, Jesus have mercy. Years back, they had a prison escape where prisoners were killed. They just couldn’t bear it. It’s like a concentration camp. The prison is made for 1000 but there are 4000 inmates. Anywhere from five to ten guys per cell.
We have great anticipation for this country. As Amos says, there is a “famine for the word of God” (Amos 8:11).
“Behold you will call a nation you do not know, and a nation which knows you not will run to you, because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified you” (Is.55:5)
They ask us why a family of 8 Americans, who could have a life of comfort, would come from so far for them; for free. I tell them the reasoning; We spend our money and energy to travel to get to them because Jesus left the comforts of His glory and traveled all the way through time and space, to come into a fallen world…to our streets,to our prisons, to our hearts. Jesus says to to go to the prisoners as though He were in prison; as though we were with them in there (Mt.25:40/Heb.13:3).
Jesus came so far from His holy throne to a wicked world because this is His love. He loves them. He wants to forgive and heal them. We come because His love is of such a nature, that it is defined as sacrificial; it costs; it expends. “No greater love THAN…to lay down your life…” (Jn.15:16). In one sense, it was not an option for God. “God SO LOVED ….. HE GAVE….”. This is the only kind of love the Father has. It is not passive. It is not words and feelings. It has movement; a 1st and a 2nd movement.
The Father’s love is so powerful, Jesus was propelled to “travel” from beyond the stars to the gutters of a smelly, city street. He came down to set up His Father’s business on earth. Any man can come to this business and buy this sacrificial love for free. A man can learn to be moved by God to God. Jesus started this business when He was twelve. He worked day and night to build an enterprise so enormous, that the end product is eternal life. Jesus built His Father’s building with His bare hands that were pierced with spikes. To build such a “house” with merely two pieces of wood, required a foundation made in the heavens.
Thus, God Himself did all He could do to bring His dwelling into every filthy, shabby prison. Ruth does a song “A place within a place”. Jesus offers a “house” to those who hate their own. It is not the “American Dream” but the dream of New Jerusalem. The only return on His investment was absolute hatred and rejection. No return on our investment in this life. So, surely we can travel a measly ten thousand miles and suffer the things we suffer. Our motives are constantly tested so they prove to be His. How far will we go? How much of His love do we have? No matter how alone we are, it matters not. For we have obeyed His command “Calculate the cost” (Lk.14:26).
As Paul says “…no one stood by me, but all forsook me; may it not be laid to their account. But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me; that through me the message might me fully proclaimed, and that all the Gentiles might hear and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion…” (2 Tim.4:16).
Yes, it would be great to have a group of people behind us, who care and are able to constantly support us, but God knows our goings and our comings, and everything we do is unto Him, and in Him, because from Him we shall receive our reward. We anticipate abundant ministry of the gospel to millions. 500,000 prisoners in Brazil. The needs and demands are so great they are far beyond what we have to give. We can only do wha we can do.
In driving from Santiago, Chile to Brazil, we stopped to minister at various prisons and towns along the way. Quite amazing to see Jesus so wonderfully move. We thought that one warden must be calling ahead to the next because of how they would let us come in without ever meeting us. But when we asked, they said no.
Abraham had to go to a doctor in Rosario. His jaw is “misaligned” from getting kicked in the face by an evangelical. As he was sharing with the doctor, the assistant overheard him: “Are you possibly the brother of Joshua and Ruth?” she asked. “You have to listen to these people. They changed my life.” she said. They had shared at length with her on the street the day before.
Joshua got his wisdom teeth out. For anyone who doesn’t know, in a third world country this requires a hammer and a screwdriver. Joshua is “anointed”. He is our stand-up comic so what would normally be a nightmare, ends up in hilarious laughter. He has this puppet that is hilarious. I am addicted to it…him. His ideas are endless for our tracts, signs and message. His character and relentless love for the lost drives us with a Ferrari engine. The work he does on-line is anointed. (Check it out.)
(Here I go.) When Elizabeth, Ruth and Sarah attack the streets with their extremely gentle and feminine spirit holding signs like courageous warriors they come home with such stories of the Spirit they keep us edified for days. Joshua wins so many old catholic women who start out against him. It is no exaggeration to say this happens all the time. Many such stories. Without sounding proud, no one can imagine the scope of what God is doing in this ministry. Only God knows that something so big makes us feel so small.
Several of us are dealing with various sicknesses. This just can’t be avoided. Especially in going to prisons, with men in the worst of conditions and just the exhaustion of our life style. I just had a tooth replaced, then drove 200 miles, and had to have it done all over again; 3rd world dentistry. Sarah has lost her voice and we have some stomach flu from bad water. Just “normal” stuff. Sarah is like our sniper, “Lock and Load” who takes out so many of our problems. She packs her cart with endless loads of laundry and scurries about the city trying to find an affordable laundromat, a place to live and so many other things. She is our resident doctor taking out all of all our medical problems. Of course, she’s also excellent at cards because she is a Jack of all trades. Most of all she is a princess of the stars who draws so many into His light.
(Whoops. Here I go again.) Elizabeth is full of His grace in so many ways. Her patience and wisdom with people in authority to get permission and on the street to minister. She is the “Kitchen Magician” as she can take nothing and make into something… edible, even beautiful. In some countries what she’s got is ?????? and what she makes is !!!!!!!! She is “the King’s daughter” who uses her anointed creativity to care for the poor and sew signs by hand and designing skits for children. She owns more props than anyone and also sings a beautiful song for the homeless. Their attitude in the Spirit about each of their ministries is..… sorry ran out of adjectives.
Ruth is both “Relentless” and “Heart Beat” because she carries us into so many places and is the reason for us being in so many prisons or cities specially equipped with things for prisoners (blankets), children(stuffed animals) and most of all the homeless(bread and clothes). Any job she does to rebuild or construct for the van or trailer has that sweet sense of ‘perfect’. She, as do all of our lambs, has a remarkable sense of humor. She too, has a puppet “Steve” that is this little rat we got her years ago. Our abundant humor is what no one expects because they have no idea of the actual personality of Jesus. He is hilarious. In fact, a prisoner drew this picture for us. He said after seeing us this is how he saw Jesus in love with His Father. So you think we’re religious?
It is written “For the joy set before Him He endured the cross” (Heb.12:2). Jesus despised the desperation but rejoiced in what He brought forth from it. In this wicked world the cross is the means to a great end. David is a champion. For a young man of 25 yrs. he has been through many desperate things but the discipline has made him His son and mine. In Rosario, he had been on a mission to scout an area for me and witness downtown. On his way back, he stopped to take a picture. Suddenly, he was grabbed off his bike and surrounded. He saw someone run toward him, who seemed to be coming to help him.
The guy ran up to him and punched him in the eye. They smacked and threw stones at him in the mouth and stomach. Could have blinded him. Big black eye and several bruises and cuts. Then three guys wrestled his bike away and stole it from him. Also stole his phone. Just breaks our heart. David is our Robo-bro. His broken but faith-filled heart is such witness and strength to us all. So many creative songs and rap music that are full of edifying reality so blesses me as his father. It was heartbreaking to picture him crying out for help “Please Jesus someone help me” only to watch car after drive by.
The attack can sound quite brutal, even puzzling, until you hear what a warden who lives near to the area told us. He said “It is a miracle that he was not killed. It happens often. They have no value on life, whatsoever. They are animals”. Instant perspective. From sadness to gratitude. It is no reflection on “Where was Jesus?” This world belongs to Satan (1 Jn.5:19). It is a reflection on a son rescued by Jesus. An evangelical said “This would never happen to me”. Correct. It shouldn’t happen… if you live a safe insulated routine life. But if you pass through drug infested areas where murders live it is possible. The life expectancy in that area is 35 yrs. old. Just when you think things are ok, you find your mouth in the dust and desperate. “Oh Lord Jesus praise You.” Paul was robbed and in danger many times (2 Cor.12).
Believe it or not, the very next night while David was ministering downtown, three evangelical kids attacked him. He couldn’t help but revisit the feelings of the day before. Slapped and punched him, took all his tracts and hat. There is a huge evangelical system called The Universal Church throughout South America. The head “pastor” is a multi-billionaire. So, you can imagine the spirit of this place. These kids were furious at David sharing the truth of Jesus that exposed their hypocrisy. David has faced many hard things and is a champion and lives like a champion.
Many things as we have experienced over the last month have brought us to praise Jesus for His reward to those who live desperate before Him alone. I’m not talking about the desperation of the world in self-pity, moping around and unbelief but that which is in the Spirit of His redemption, intended for our discipline. That we are to live unto God alone.
I have known many people of whom I would define their situation as “desperate”. Yet, they absolutely refuse to admit they are desperate.They react to the truth like a wounded deer. They run and flee as if they are being personally attacked rather than wisely consider and incorporate the truth.. Truth is not personal. It is objective. It is the absolute truth for all men. It’s crazy. It’s like they think if they deny their desperation they won’t be desperate. Say what? They have no clue that the very thing they fear is the God-ordained means of redemption. To them, desperation is a curse. They don’t even realize they have bought into the American “prosperity” mentality. Their focus is to act together. They think desperation is only for losers and pagans. Actually, that does sound like me, except that within this pagan man is a believer. The picture below is where David was jumped.
Desperation is not passive. It is an all-out reckless effort of will. It is losing one’s obsession with self in an obsession with Him. If a man will recklessly embrace the specifics of his own desperation, and allow it to drive him to the ground, to be driven to God, he will find answers of which he never imagined. Desperation must be swallowed like food and taken on like an exercise routine. It holds a wealth of provision and understanding for those who become disciplined by it. God says “the heart is desperately sick” (Jer.17:9). The question is whether you will learn to live in the truth of desperation rather than live a lie. I think of so many times, in so many places, God has shown me the truth of being desperate so that I could touch the desperation of honest men. The Potter shapes the clay.
HOW WILL YOU RESPOND TO THE TRUTH OF DESPERATION? (2 Cor.7:10).
This is some of the desperation that made me a desperate man.
As a young man, I was shot in the eye with a BB gun and blinded by a blood blockage. 3 weeks in a hospital on my back. Years later, I watched my mother die of cancer and it caused me to see the abyss of my insecurities and fears. There was a time I was hit in the head with a bat and knocked unconscious. Several other times I was knocked unconscious, once by a rock thrown at my head while preaching Jesus at the Indiana campus. The college kids stood over me and laughed, as I lay waiting for the ambulance to take me to a hospital to get stitches.
For two years, I was constantly humiliated and ridiculed living in close quarters with 100 guys on a football team. The rejection was excruciating for a twenty year old. Plus injury after injury, after injury took away the only thing I knew; football.
I remember this article about me, when I was in college, in the school paper. Your first thought is that I’m bragging. Not quite. The essence of the article was that I was “injury prone”. It actually used the example of Job in the Old Testament. I assure you, as a young 20 year old with high hopes, this was the last thing in the world I wanted to hear. It smote my pride and put me in the dust. I knew it was true. Today, I rejoice over how God began to teach me at that early age how to learn….the 2nd movement.
The day after we arrived in Colombia, I completely severed my Achilles tendon while ministering on the street. 4 months in a wheel chair. There was a time when Sarah was almost kidnapped in Bogota. If we hadn’t spotted the van, it would have been over. There was a time a girl jumped in front of my motorcycle while I was in the middle of traffic. Elizabeth flew off the back and we could have been killed.
There was a time when we lived on a 44 ft. sailboat planning to sail to Cuba, when Ruth and I were very close to being swept out to sea by a huge current, while in a junky, tiny plastic dingy. The current was so fierce, it snapped my paddle and we had to lunge for a dock. A time we were almost hit by a huge barge. A broken engine made it unable to get out of the way. A time a terrible storm overtook the boat, and because the steering fluid had leaked out, I had no steerage way. I had to go backwards against the wind. There was a time when an actual military submarine surfaced a hundred feet off our port bow and swamped our boat to the point where I called “Mayday” to the Coast Guard.
6 times of great desperation came to my wife and I in the huge responsibility of delivering each of our six shining jewels in home birth. A time in a Muslim prison in Morocco with my entire family. A time in Munich, Germany punched in my ear, breaking the left ear drum, which I still deal with today. Many times subjected to severe false accusations and brought to weeping. Arrested 18 times.
So many times, at large events, parades, football tailgating, dealing with intense hostility from multitudes of drunk and angry crowds. Every day, every hour, knowing and seeing my nothingness. All of these times and so many, many more have taught me the ways of putting my mouth in the dust.
Never stopped walking in Him. Never paused. Never doubted. Just learned and watched and realized how desperate I am. Going from death to death and glory to glory. When you allow Jesus to use the discipline of painful circumstances to be your teacher, it seems at first to be sorrowful but if you are trained by it, you learn the depth of true righteousness and peace (Heb. 12:11).
“Let me put my mouth in the dust, Perhaps there is hope for me. Let me give my cheek to the smiter, Let me be filled with reproach. For the Lord will not reject forever. For if He causes grief, Then He will have compassion. According to His abundant lovingkindness. For He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men” (Lam.3:29). *I switched verse from 3rd to 1st person.
“It is for discipline (a desired gift) for which you endure (the hardship)… for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Heb.12:7).
THE FIRST MOVE
We have had social workers, psychologists and professionals seriously ask how we so quickly connect with the prisoners. They say they have tried so hard for so long but they are just so distracted and all over the place. Recently one told us he was studying the men during our performance and was fascinated to see how they were still and focused in on us. He said we created a climate in which they want to listen. I knew I could not explain our “secret” answer was the level of prayer we call the 2nd movement; the prayer of desperation. I just told it is the love of Jesus.
I awaken to this desperation each morning. It doesn’t control me but it guides me. The language of an orchestra in performing a symphony involves “movements” into a crescendo. Likewise I base my “symphony” in Him on movements I make. He knows that I know my desperation in sin. Paul say’s “I fellowship with His sufferings”. At various times in our performances, I admit to the people that I cannot do the movements of my children in the Martial Arts they know. I have no 2nd Degree Black Belt like them. But I ask the people if they would like me to show them a move that an old man has learned over the years. It is how to get to a very high place; just one movement.
It costs nothing in your wallet, but everything in your heart. It will take you to places you never thought you would see. Anyone can go, but few ever do. It is so “easy” yet so hard. It’s as close to you as your lips but as far as you so choose (Rm.10:9). It is the move from one life into another. It is the way down that takes you directly up. It moves you from a place of being ruled to the place from which you can rule. This move will get you higher than the highest mountain. Then, I lay face down to the ground. No act. No self-righteous gimmick. No religiosity or weirdness. No melodrama. Just Michael, a desperate child giving people something real to help them know how to respond to desperation. I don’t really care what people think. I care that people know what God thinks.
I have challenged “strong” men to see if they can do this seemingly easy move. Just lay face down. So simple. But obviously, it is a position of total surrender and desperation. They look at me stunned, like I’m asking them if they can scale the face of El Capitan in Yosemite: i.e. the surface rock on the side of a mountain without a life line. Putting your mouth in actual dirt, dust or scum is a good thing for “a pretty boy”.
We are making the hand signal of “Liberdade”; freedom.
THE SECOND MOVE
Of course, anyone can lay on the ground face down. The arrogant Pharisees used to rend their garments and lay prostrate before the Ark of the Covenant. They killed Jesus. There is far more to laying on the ground than laying on the ground. There is a second move. It is the movement within. It is the movement of sacrificial love. It is the Spirit moving in you, moving you to the Father. It is the movement of a man’s heart that can not be replicated by anyone else. The first move is incomplete without the second. If you refuse to BE desperate, then you will not “move”. You will just lay there like a dead goldfish in a bowl, listening to yourself breath.
A depth of heart and character is required; a person with a spirit, an intelligent mind, unique thoughts, an expressive mouth, to yield to and touch the Person of God. One Person to another. My pulse increases, my hands sweat, my heart prays in rapid acceleration. I am in the dust, in an instant, on the ground, though I may be driving, standing or walking. It is “where” I fight. Against everything within me. It is where I stand for everything beyond me. It is where I live and become who I will become in Him. Where is the 2nd move? It is happening wherever I am. It is who I am. Anything and everything that fills my mind is completely overwhelmed by the realization of eternity; “GOD IS” (Heb.11:6). Nothing matters but being absolutely subject to God.
God says “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such a city…spend a year…make a profit…Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away…” (James 4:13).
Nothing matters. Surely not you. Surely not them, whoever “them” are. Voices in your head. Voices outside your head. All that matters is that your spirit is moving. Your eternity depends on who you are and what you do, so more than ever, do what you must do to find you and be you. This moment of the second movement is yours to prove that you are not as all other men of the earth. You are His…alone. You are special. You are destined. You are a child of GOD ALMIGHTY.
In this filthy vessel called “man” I am desperate for God(Rm.7:24). In every moment of every day, I realize if I don’t move at the 2nd level, I am vulnerable, my family is vulnerable. What they become in God depends on how I lead them. All my times of desperation have not been for naught. These moments of desperation were actually moments of destiny. He was there all along to bring forth and let shine, my new man in Christ. The opportunity of a life time…the second life…comes out of the second move.
I cannot imagine where I would be, who I would be or even if I would be, if I did not know this intimate fellowship with His sufferings (2 Cor.4). I used to wrestle in High School. My favorite move was “the come out”. I knew that I could score with this move every time. I was not a great wrestler, but I had this technique down to a science. I remember how at the beginning of the match, I would be absolutely riveted on the hand signal of the ref. When he whistled “Wrestle!” wham, I would execute the move. I knew…I know how to score.
“But who can endure the day of His coming. And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness” (Mal.3:2-3).
The “offerings in righteousness” are the individual makings of a man’s response to truth.
THE BANALITY OF TRUTH
(*Study-Eichmann in Jerusalem-for insight)
Have you ever heard the expression “the banality of evil”? It is a term to describe the bewildering and deadening process to evil that occurred in ordinary men during the days of Hitler. For example; playing with dogs is innocent. But in the concentration camps, such “playful games” were done by normal men in a normal way in a banality of evil. The SS guards would use dogs to chase, maim and kill Jewish children.
Their dullness to such horror was viewed as “normal”. Yet, in the context of reality, it is evil beyond comprehension. Banality is like a severe dose of valium which dulls human response. When I was in Jerusalem and East Berlin I went to a Jewish Holocaust museum. I saw film footage of the reactions by the Nazi’s, when the Allies invaded the concentration camps. The reaction was so visible; it was like watching in invisible ice water being poured on them, awakening them from a drunken stupor. Reality awakened them from the stupor of their banality. They themselves could not believe what they had done. They were stunned and shocked.
It is normal today for one to call himself a Christian regardless of how he responds to the truth. “Salvation” has become something you DO and get DONE, with the thinking that whether you live in the truth or not is inconsequential. There is an indifference, a presumption and a dullness to truth so deep, it is outrageous, depraved and barbaric. And this too is “normal”. The “Christians” today respond to the truth in whatever way they want with no sense of accountability to a higher reality of life. There is no fear, no gratitude or love. Instead, they resent any confrontation. God says “…he who hates reproof is stupid” (Pr. 12:1). People may think it is ‘no big deal’ to turn a deaf ear to truth but it is a huge deal to a holy God (Proverbs 30:20).
God warns “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart” (Heb.3:7-4:7). This passage comes from Numbers 17-20/and Deut. 1:34 when Israel complained and refused to do what they were commanded to do AS HIS PEOPLE. God was so provoked that He killed them in the desert. The banality of Christianity is worse than the banality of Hitler because of the content of absolute truth and the consequences of hell fire.
The normal response to truth should be an easy response of love. Instead it is a calculated choice to seem interested while firmly holding to self- presumption upon God’s Word. No desperation. Just pride. Justice will be swift. Carried out, not by the courts of Nuremberg, but by the omniscient courts of the Most High with a punishment beyond comprehension (2 Thes.2:11). Imagine the feelings and face of absolute shock when one’s banality is smitten with the truth of God’s impartial revelation (Amos 5:18ff/Rev.16).
Pilate shrugged in indifference “What is truth?” to the One Who shed all His blood to answer that very question. Jesus explained that truth was the very reason He came to earth (Jn.18:37-38). And you are going to take it lightly? There was no angelic bugle of doom sounding when Pilate responded in such a trivial manner. Neither shall there be the next time you shrug your shoulders to the truth.
Why is it so hard to be truthful and just admit “Hey man, I realize I don’t really know Jesus.” Consider Job (chpt.42). Do you realize what a breakthrough this could be for your life? To love the truth rather than resist. It will change your life. There is no one who wants to deal with the truth. My desperation has taught me to do all that I can to understand the truth. Then, to cherish the truth, however it comes. It is oil upon my head. I have long taught my wife and children, by word and example, how to give and receive rebuke. Without it, there is no salvation. It is our ongoing conversation. None of them goes into a self-pity lockdown or resentful reaction. Quite the opposite. There is no hiccup or speed bump. Truth is our normal. It is meant to put you down so you can learn to grow up (Prov.6:23). If you do not receive discipline, you don’t belong to Him. You are “illegitimate” (Heb.12:8).
It is in the dust that I can breathe the fresh, clean air of His purity. You don’t have to move one smidgen of your body to move your spirit across the skies. To see Him Who dwells on a high and holy place. You don’t have to do anything outwardly once you have learned how to do everything inwardly.
“For now shall I lie down in the dust; And thou wilt seek me diligently, but I shall not be (Job 7:21).
Things in life can change at the turn of a corner or a phone call. Quickly, you can go from sitting on a chair to lying next to it. The pretty walls in which you live can dull your sense of vulnerability and breed a false sense of safety. You can think that you know all you need to know, only to realize in a God-moment, that you know nothing. This can happen.
We are nothing. Life does not end like a raging fire. It is a tiny flame, extinguished like a match. Something can happen in a second that will steal your last chance for a last chance. I knew a man who put himself in his car one morning and that evening someone else took him out because he had a stroke while driving home. I knew a woman who was hit by a little boy on a bike while walking home from a grocery store. From the moment her head slammed against the sidewalk she lost her mental capability to cope with life.
You don’t know when your drive home or visit to the store will be your last. You don’t know if you will turn another corner. There is no stomach ache or fever that accompanies deception. You live on your own island. No one is ever going to invade your life and make you change. Your conscience will bother you like a deep inner wound needing the balm of truth. It will never scream or shake you. No siren will sound. But you will spend more time dealing with it than anything else. You will justify and rationalize but it will continue to bleed. God says ultimately your conscience, not your words, will “bears witness … in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men…” (Rm.2:14).
“For dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return” (Gen. 3:19).
And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater ones; and there will I store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have much goods laid up for many years…’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night is your soul required of you; and the things which you have prepared, whose shall they be?’ … Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning; and yourselves be like men looking for their lord… you must also be ready: for in an hour that you think not the Son of man is coming (Lk. 12:18ff).(paraphrased)