James A. Washington
So what’s the point? I mean salvation, born again, new life, faith, love thy neighbor as thyself stuff, spiritual principles and eternal existence and their meaning. When all is said and done, when it really comes down to it, what is life all about?
For me, one of the glories of being delivered is recognizing the precious nature of existence. I believe, I exist at the absolute whim of God. And before you think me frivolous or simple-minded, let me define that for you. I define that whim as God’s unconditional and explicit love for me. A so-called great philosopher once said, “I exist, therefore I am.” I believe I am because God said so. I mean, like when you were little, very little and someone disputed your word and your only response was, “Uh huh! It’s true because my mama so told me.” That was it. Regardless of whatever other nonsense was spoken at you, the truth rested comfortably in your mama’s word.
So here we are, living breathing creatures in a universe we didn’t create and have no control over. I submit to you that God’s Word about us is certainly as pure as your mother’s. “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. (Eccleasiastes 12:13-14)”
Okay, fear God and keep His commandments. Mom used to say, “be home by eleven. Do what I tell you, and we’ll get along just fine.”
In many ways God tells us over and over again such simple truths that we forget the concept of delayed gratification in favor of instant pleasure. The world promises finite flesh, while the Lord delivers infinite spirituality. I heard a preacher once say, heaven is one big “now.” Existence in heaven knows no boundaries of time, no past, no future; just now. That revelation alone should move a lot of us. It does me because in many ways, even if I don’t understand “heaven” it’s got to be true because daddy said so. Therefore time as I know it will not exist upon my death. Consciousness as I know it will not exist upon my death. Existence as I know it will not be what I think, but my eternity, my ‘nowness,’ my ‘amness’ will be in relation to the Alpha and the Omega.
At times, it is quite unimaginable to try and comprehend God, but I do know Jesus is Lord. Jesus is man. Jesus is me or I am Him. That’s my reality and following God’s commandments is my map. Can you spell right relationship with God? Can you say I am because he said so? If not, just say I am because He is. This simplicity can be mind boggling. This unconditional love thing, coupled with the power of God, I believe is contagious and infectious. My way of looking at it is it will all come to a head at the moment of death, and I will know the essence of how and how much God loved and loves me. My goal as is proclaimed in the life and death and life of Christ is to understand I will get a chance to love him back. Now ain’t that something?
May God bless and keep you always.
James A. Washington is the publisher of Dallas Weekly. He can be reached at dallasweekly.com.
I heard someone say recently that mistakes are the price you pay for wisdom.
Stated another way, wisdom is the result of the lessons learned from the mistakes we make every day. It kind of gives new meaning to that knowledge is power thing. I mean the ultimate power has to be that you know that you know and in order to know anything, life has to teach you the facts as they exist, like them or not.
This line of conversation puts experience into stunning perspective; at least it does for me. Power, wisdom and experience are interconnected and should be explored from a spiritual point of view.
So if I’ve got this thing correctly, mistakes give you experience. The experienced person, who has learned from his or her mistakes, becomes wise and wisdom, being the prerequisite for knowledge provides the framework for what I believe is a fact. “Knowledge is power.” The question rolling around in my head, then, is what kind of power does one get from their knowledge of God?
I mean isn’t knowing God the absolute pinnacle of human understanding? That’s got to be power of an unbelievable nature. Put into words I can comprehend, the fact that we’re talking about God should not diminish our premise. We’ve agreed that knowledge is power. Awareness of the Lord, the acknowledgement of who He is, an understanding of our purpose and subsequent submission to His Living Word, gives one a kind of power most folk don’t want to or cannot comprehend.
Remember knowledge, which is power, doesn’t come without a price. I’m taking testimony from anyone who wants to tell us what price he or she paid to know the Lord. Anyone want to share with the class the pain and anguish of repeated mistakes, false optimism, idol worship, addictions, or maybe just outright don’t give a damn about this religion stuff? Does anyone want to proclaim how the knowledge of God has made these once seemingly insurmountable obstacles but mere memories of past lives? Take it from one who knows, that’s power.
Now stay with me for one more moment. Let’s look at our shortcomings through the lens of wisdom. Mistake after mistake just may have been a part of the course you were required to take so you might gain the wisdom necessary for you to allow God to mold you into a vessel where He can reside, or should I say where the Holy Spirit can reside?
It is my limited understanding that when pottery is put in a kiln, the temperature gets pretty hot. But this process must be adhered to if you expect a resilient beautiful piece of pottery, lest I say art. I don’t know about you but this is a heat I have felt. If you let me I’ll testify about it at the drop of a hat.
The resulting knowledge is exhilaratingly powerful and joy does have new meaning. Power, real power, allows you to be vulnerable, forgiving, and able to honor God and love your fellow man. Unfortunately, it can also make you feel stupid because, once you get this, it’s hard to come to grips with how easily it could have been acquired, yea all these long years.
Read Psalm 23 again and again, please. Someone who I respect a lot once told me God will not compete for your attention. So if you want other … other things … other pleasures … other Gods, He will not stand in your way. But if you seek Him, first, last and always … well you get my meaning. It’s all about power.
I pray for you to know the power of knowing God. I pray today is your day to let Him illuminate your dark spaces and places. May you learn the lessons you need to in order to get the wisdom necessary to experience the presence of God in this life long before you get to the next. Talk about power.
May God bless and keep you always.
Hopefully, you agree with me that life is indeed a wonderful and spectacular journey.
As Christians we know that this trip can be and often is somewhat of a hazardous adventure. Deliberately choosing the path that Jesus walked is by no means easy and to do it publicly, as I have often said is tantamount to putting a bull’s-eye on your back and volunteering to be target practice for life’s live fire exercises. I used that analogy before about celebrating one’s faith and thereby giving the devil an easy target in a crowd, on a bus, in your marriage, on your job or even in church. Publicly proclaim God and you will be tested.
I have come to believe, as long as you’re not doing anything to attract Satan’s attention, you probably won’t. If you buy into the premise that life is a random series of events and challenges , that somehow you live as an insignificant whim of the universe, or there are no eternal consequences for your actions, then I believe Satan need not worry about where you’ll end up. He has your room already reserved. He has no reason to seek you out. How does the movie title say it; “Dead Man Walking?” The title seems to make my point better than I can.
However, if you just pay attention to God’s Word, listen to Jesus’ teaching and attempt to abide by the lessons of scripture, please understand the devil will become intent on wreaking havoc on and in your world. You see, he, like the Lord, is in this thing for keeps. Most of us cannot get our minds around this because few of us have ever been put to the test of “putting it all on the line.”
Maybe too simplistic of an example is when you were a kid — way back in the day — and you played marbles for keeps for the first time. It might have been when you gambled with real money or placed a significant sports bet and lost. Perhaps you gave your heart and your treasure away for the first time and got burned. That sinking feeling was enough to avoid playing for keeps ever in life again and maybe even in love. The hard part to comprehend is that the devil is playing for keeps all the time. This is his Super Bowl and your soul is the trophy.
To me that’s what makes God’s mercy and grace so extraordinary. In God’s game, and it is God’s game, it’s never over until you take your last breath. You see God’s got next. He is the originator of the game and the creator of the rules. He’s fixed the game in our favor and all we have to do is read the rule book. You never foul out. You never get disqualified and believe it or not you never get injured. As long as you’re moving through life with an eye on Christ and an ear for the Word and a heart stuck on others, you win.
Hear me clearly! If you let the devil convince you it’s a lost cause, this game is no fun, just quit, then he wins because you wind up thinking it’s not worth your time and effort and life is certainly not worth going all in. Not playing God’s game is playing Satan’s game. Satan’s is like expecting to beat the house in Vegas. Soon you’ll be getting on a plane wondering where the good times and all the money went. God’s game is more like bingo where you know if you play long enough, the prize is yours because everybody wins. Jesus guaranteed it.
May God bless and keep you always.
Men, particularly Black men, survive in this natural world, lots of time on instinct, ego, stamina and an unwillingness to submit their wills to that of another man.
Almost from birth, we are told we don’t have to take “that” off anyone. It can be difficult to reconcile the dilemma of faith and submission and that of sacrifice and accepting someone else’s will superseding our own. Life teaches us to be and act independently. Stand up for yourself and it’s better to be a leader than to be a follower.
Then, as Christians, here comes the Bible and it tells us in Hebrews 11:1-3 that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. So, we are to submit to the will of God, follow the teachings and the example of the life of Jesus Christ, and be guided by listening to the Holy Spirit; fly blindly into the fray, so to speak.
Faith will be your lighthouse. Ultimately, we all know faith guided all of the prophets including Moses. Faith brought down the walls of Jericho. By faith the Red Sea was parted. Enoch was transformed by faith. Abraham was delivered by it. But the reality of faith can be foreign to those who rely on what they can see, touch and confirm by their senses.
To do otherwise, goes against everything natural and learned in this life. If that sentiment were to prevail, then we all should pack our bags and go straight to hell because the devil has indeed won. I just have to believe there is more.
Even in the natural world, man does not live by bread alone. For example, love and its pursuit drive many of us to do great and sometimes extraordinary things. You can’t touch it.
Friendship and special relationships are sometimes manifested in superhuman deeds on behalf of others. You can’t see it. Respect can change the behavior of the worst wrongdoers. Can’t taste or smell it. We are guided by the unseen everyday in situations where we honor and appreciate those whom we love and are honor bound to protect.
Then I submit to you that we must focus on our faith in God as opposed to our faith in men. You can, I can, easily have faith in someone we trust. That manifests itself as loyalty. When we deliberately put God into the mix, then we are face to face with what we truly believe in. You know that you know and He knows that you know.
I believe everyone struggles with this as they look for a personal encounter with the Lord. It takes a while to get there, but once there, decisions are simple. Faith based decisions lead to confirmation of who God is and who we are to Him. The promise is that “If you have the faith of a mustard seed … nothing is impossible to you.” Matthew 17:20.
My point is that the dilemma of faith and submission can keep us from seeking and confronting our faith. I believe it to be another trick of the devil. As long as we do not confront the faith question, we will never find our personal road to salvation.
We can actually get in our own way. I am going on record that I have work to do coming to grips with my own faith. But there is no doubt in my mind that I live under the fulfilled promise of grace. Jesus completed His task and a new covenant has been established.
The things of this world can sometimes cloud that fact but each and every time my faith is challenged, my faith wins out. I will inherit the promise of grace and the rest of this stuff is irrelevant. It doesn’t mean anything anyway.
May God bless and keep you always.
Sometimes I have put myself in the most difficult of situations because without deliberate conscious effort, I forget God has worked this thing out, without any input from me.
I used to think there must be something I’m not getting because the more I searched for the meaning of my own salvation, the more confused I would become.
You see life teaches you a thing or two or three when you’re arrogant enough to think you have all the answers. I now know, as a result of a rather enlightening Sunday service, that I am not the primary source of knowing why things unfold the way as they do.
My mistake had been to think that somehow, one day, through my own volition, “discover” the best way to serve God. My “calling’ would be clear because, after all, I’m actively searching to see how I might best serve the Lord, given what I perceived to be my gifts.
Wrong. That’s not letting go and letting God. That’s holding on and giving man (me) way to much credit.
The minister’s message was so simple, that I can only believe it was God’s time to share His destiny for me via a word about independence. I realize now that I cannot do anything without Jesus.
I realize I don’t function well outside the boundaries of faith, a faith predicated upon Father God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Savior of my soul existence. It’s an eternal thing with me. That means getting as close as I can, as often as I can to wallowing in the Word of God. He exists therefore I exist.
My calling, my vocation, in this regard is to accept, listen and obey. Scripture says lean not upon your own understanding and seek Him. If I do that He will be found and you know what? Where He is, that’s where I’ll be.
So, therefore, the simple truth is don’t try so hard. Finding God in the context of man’s understanding can seem an impossibility.
Finding God in the context of the Alpha and Omega brings certain clarity to the existence of and my perspective on my place in the universe. You’ve all heard this before. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son for me.
This is a life and death and life that makes eternity real. My life is a gift, granted to me by the Almighty with purpose and destiny, whatever that might be. All I have to do is accept it by seeking God’s face, accept what is shown to me and listen.
It’s the listening part that is so difficult to me at times because, in this world everybody and everything is trying to get my attention.
I find that in order for me to really listen, I need quiet time. I need some consistent time in the Word. I am not always consistent, but it is my consistent belief that God will never abandon those who seek Him out.
I believe in Deuteronomy it says that when all else fails, return to God and He will be merciful. Recognizing mercy as a blessing is a good place to begin. Grace is the reality of this journey.
It’s a daily bread thing. It’s there for all of us. We’ve just got to let go and partake of the goodness and wisdom that is God’s. It’s not a give and get thing. It’s a recognize and receive thing. The work was done by Jesus. How ‘bout that?
May God bless and keep you always.