Paul said a lot of things. A lot. I’ve not even read all of what he’s said yet. But I came across a verse today that really stuck. You know that phrase cooks use to describe something really hearty? “Rib Sticking Good”. It implies that whatever IT is, it’s so full of nourishment or whatever you need that it clings to you longer than it should, so you can take it with you, so it can sustain you longer. (and usually it’s reaaaallllyyyy tasty 🙂 )
The verse I read was Acts 20:24
24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
He was speaking in reference to a trip where, compelled by the Spirit, he was going to Jerusalem. He reveals that up until that point, the Spirit has also revealed that hardships lie ahead of him and, despite this calling, he still goes. He still goes because he knows and is committed to the bigger calling of our never failing God.
Do I know? Am I committed? What have I done in order to achieve this task of testifying of God’s grace? Even better, what will I do?
When Rob and I bought our house here in Huntsville, I was excited about decorating it. One of the first things I bought from Hobby Lobby was a cross wall art piece to hang in our entry way. I hung it up high in the doorway leading into our living room. I wanted it to be visible to anyone that walked through our front door. I wanted it to say “We know God in this house, we love God”. I wanted it to speak for us, to identify us as part of the Lord’s table, secure in Heaven. I wanted it to be enough. I wanted it to be enough, so that I didn’t have to speak personally to any of that. Because sometimes that makes people uncomfortable. Sometimes that drives friends away who don’t believe the same thing. I wanted anyone that came over to want to come back! Why couldn’t having my salvation and keeping it mostly to myself most of the time be alright? I can’t speak for Rob on any of this, I don’t know what he felt about it, but that’s how I felt.
A few months ago, we were led to a church called Church of the Highlands by a really close friend of ours (I’ve posted about this before). We’ve been attending regularly since then, and actually started today, on a process to become members. 🙂 I feel incredible relief to have found our church family- a component that was always missing from our life. And, we always acknowledged this absence, but never felt empowered or enthusiastic about fixing it. For a lot of reasons. Personal sours that came from old church experiences, people experiences, or whatever. But anyway, I’m not writing today about that. I want to focus my thoughts on what’s next.
During the service today, I jotted some things down that really spoke to me. The message was in celebration of the 14 year anniversary of COTH, so much of what Pastor Chris spoke to was what COTH is, believes, pursues, and practices. One of the things he said hit me like a lightning bolt.
We never stop searching for the lost because God never stopped searching for us.
So that’s what’s missing. That’s what I’ve been ignoring. What a gift it is to see the solution in a perfect delivery! I’ve been celebrating my salvation and my quiet, private relationship with the Lord, on my own terms. And it hasn’t done anyone ANY good. And what a gift it is, to have found a church that inspires the very fire that fuels this mission; the task of testifying the good news of God’s grace. Because that is what being at COTH makes me want to do. I want people to come visit and experience it for themselves! I want people to experience what an incredible experience a church service can be. And what a congregation can look and feel like. You won’t believe it! It’s hilarious, fun, exciting, emotional, and so comfortable. When I’m there, I honestly don’t want to be anywhere else.
So I finally understand what Paul was getting at (I think!). How someone can say that their life is nothing compared to the bigger mission that God has inspired in them. And I’m not saying that my efforts will be anything matched to his. Hardly! But I am saying that I’m going to crawl out from behind my beautiful wall art cross and maybe look you in the eye and tell you what God is doing in my life. And how I’m changed. And how you could be too!!
“Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But who can ask him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard of him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? Romans 10:13-14
So Acts 20:24 is stuck in my ribs, my heart, my mind, and there it shall stay, God willing, so that I can take it everywhere with me and be sustained for the race for which I’m being called.