It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a month since our return from Japan. How quickly time has flown by! The joy and wonder of being in the city where my family is from, now fading into the busyness, activities, challenges of being back home.
Amidst all the things swirling around in my mind, thoughts wander back to Don’s message we heard as a family in Japan. Whether in Japan visiting a part of my heritage or back home in Hawaii, or wherever I find myself, the question, and really, my challenge is: Am I continually seeking Jesus and walking on that narrow path or am I just taking the easy, comfortable and convenient way? Only two options. I am either on one or the other. There is no third road. Too bad. Don’s challenging questions come to mind often:
- Is my response to sin characterized by repentance?
- Is my will surrendered to God’s will?
- Does my life show forth the fruit of obedience?
- Do I sense the affirming voice of the Holy Spirit?
On our last full day in Niigata, my family’s hometown, I spent time with God in the peacefulness of the rice paddies bordering our hotel. It was a good time. It was a time to honestly reflect on those four questions.
- Is my response to sin characterized by repentance? I wrote in my journal that day, “On a scale of 1-10, I would say a 6, maybe. But it should be way closer to 10. So often I choose to ignore sin.”
- Is my will surrendered to God’s will? Continuing my reflection and evaluation, “6 again. But sadly too often, only when I want to. In those weak moments, the answer is no.”
- Does my life show forth the fruit of obedience? “Not sure how to rate this. I often try to put my best foot forward. But is it obedience to God or a show to the people around me? Is it more a sense of duty or an expression of my love for God?”
- Do I sense the affirming voice of the Holy Spirit? “Succinctly put, no. It’s hard to hear His voice above the din of my feelings of guilt, condemnation, and lies from the accuser of the brethren.
I thoughtfully considered my words written on that page, reflecting upon the condition of my heart. As I shook my head in disgust at sad excuse for a follower of Christ I was feeing at that moment. I closed my eyes in prayer. Then, sensing the gentle voice of my Father, I began to write words I felt whispered in my ear:
“Mark, see how refreshed and alive you feel sitting along these paddies? You are so often worn down, stressed, fatigued, sick and weighed down because you don’t take time to just be with Me. Even 30 minutes rejuvenates, doesn’t it? My word to you, “Remember to take time and let the Son shine in. Let My Son shine into your life. Make time to let My Son shine in. Do that and you will experience the health and vitality you will need for this decade. Remember this. Even in the midst of the busyness of your life, let My Son shine in on your life.”
“I am the light of the world.Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus in John 8:12
“Let My Son shine in on your life!” Special words on a very special day in a very special place. Words of hope, encouragement and instruction. Words from a loving Father to his discouraged son. What a moment! That day and that place seems like a million miles away right now. How quickly I allow stuff to come in and steal the preciousness AND My Father’s exhortation that day! But today I remember. I choose to remember. Today I go that special place in His presence, open my heart, my soul and my arms and let the Son shine in.
I am learning that abiding is not attained the way I too often strive for something, through hard work, determination and human effort. Abiding is simply remaining in the Vine and letting His Son shine in. Simply, not easy. But I’m learning. Today, no more striving. No more listening to the inadequacies I feel in my heart. No more listening to the lies. Today I simply choose to let the Son shine in.
“Thank you Father for your love and patience with me. Thank you for your words. May your Holy Spirit continually remind me to let your Son shine in to my life. I am humbled by your stubborn love for me. In Jesus’ name, amen.”