I wanted to thank you for taking this afternoon time out of your busy schedule so we could meet. I gather you’ve seen it thousands of times—where one is comforted by simply being able to share their worries, frustrations, conflicts and anxieties. Yes, I have unsettled questions of the theoretical and academic. And yet, I can stand upon my tip-toes, look down my path and see that making a commitment grounded in faith is what yields my greatest anxiety.
As I study, I am seeing more and more that faith is “in fact” what seems to make the commitment so comforting for those who do give themselves to Christ. I truly do find myself in the shoes of Mr. Templeton at the moment.
Our son and daughter were over tonight for dinner and Bible study. Tonight’s chapter was on self-sacrifice. I had done my homework except for answering the commitment question: “What do you believe the Lord is calling you to sacrifice in order to serve someone else?”
I finally had to get it out on the table that as a “bystander” I’d say that looking over the fence I see a very, very significant sacrifice that is awaiting me if I make a commitment to Christ. For this I am very, very scared. I explained it as though one may see enormous clouds off in the distance. I don’t know how big the rain drops are going to be, but there’s going to be a lot. I see it, it’s out there.
I feel that I can’t straddle this line of indecisiveness for a long time. And, I have great fear of such an ominous unknown.
My wife shared with us how she has been having a vision of how she and I might serve Christ together. Unfortunately I don’t have such clarity.
But I do know that I have a responsibility to my wife and my family and to those including yourself, for me to carry out this investigation with an open mind...and an open heart.
Heck, Randy...I’m scared.
Your comments concerning your fears and anxieties about meeting Christ remind me of one of C. S. Lewis’s children’s stories. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, volume one of the Chronicles of Narnia, one of the children asks Mr. and Mrs. Beaver about Aslan the Lion, who is a figure of Christ:
“Is Aslan quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver. “If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or just plain silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
God is good. But until we understand the truth that He is not safe, that He is not under our control, until we come to grips with the truth of His uncompromising holiness, we will never begin to grasp His amazing grace.
So in a sense, Dave, you are right to be afraid. God is not a genie, under our control. He is the master. When we fancy ourselves masters, it can be intimidating to agree to being a servant. We are saying, “You call the shots. You’re in charge.” Of course, even if we don’t say those things, they’re still true! Christ is in charge of the universe whether or not we recognize Him—but when we do, we honor Him by submitting to His lordship.
He may call us to do things that make us uneasy. If He does, He promises to be there with us. He’s in charge. In many passages of Scripture, God calls upon us to fear Him. But once our sins are confessed He says we can warmly embrace Him, come to Him as “Abba, Father” (meaning Papa or Daddy). We can come boldly before His throne with the access only permitted to the King’s children. We still fear Him, but in a way that does not diminish our love for Him, or His for us. When my daughters were growing up they knew my love for them, but they were also very nervous when they knew they’d done something I wouldn’t approve of. If you come to know Christ you will fear Him, yes, but because you will love Him wholeheartedly, and sense His love for you, the fear will not be a distant and distressing thing.
Ecclesiastes 8:13 says, “Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them.” Fearing God is in our best interests. If you have not accepted Christ’s gift of salvation, you are still an enemy of God (Romans 5:10), and you have every reason to fear. If you died today you would go to hell rather than heaven. I’m not saying this to try to pressure you or make you feel bad, Dave. I’m saying it because I believe it’s true, and the greatest kindness we can offer each other is the truth.
So it comes down to this. We all must fear. But if you fear God, you need fear no one and nothing else, even the devil. If you do not fear God, you will ultimately end up fearing many things besides Him.
Here’s another of my favorite passages from the Chronicles of Narnia, this one from The Silver Chair, where young Jill is very thirsty, but the great lion, Aslan, is standing by the water:
“Will you promise not to do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion...
“Do you eat girls?” she asked.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I dare not come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
So, Dave, you may indeed fear the Truth. But in the final analysis, there is no other Truth. And just as Jill discovered—but only by going to the stream to drink—that the Lion was the answer to her thirst, so if you place your faith in Christ, you will discover He is the answer to yours.
It was good to talk with you and a special treat to meet your wife. You’re in my prayers.
Investing in Eternity,
Today at church I asked Christ to enter into my life.
I am so grateful for the support that you and my wife have provided me. You cannot imagine. By “coincidence” our neighbor popped in yesterday to ask about some unrelated topic, and we chatted. Come to find out that his wife was originally an atheist when they had first met. Both are devout Christians.
It was a very enlightening conversation, as he described her path to Christ. As so many others have, he offered his support and prayers for me.
And...we needed a new set of Bible study materials. My wife’s daughter recommended one (she and her husband participate with us weekly). My wife and I picked them up, I reviewed the guide and that was where it all fell into place: Revelations 3:20
Then, I was reading Luke last night and was overwhelmed with anxiety. How can I possibly meet the expectations of what Christ preached? I queried my wife and she said that with Christ you are forgiven of your sins and He is there to support you in your efforts. I gathered that if the same one that is setting the expectations is also willing to help me in my quest to achieve those expectations then I have a chance.
But it isn’t a test, is it? Rather it is the integrity and purity of my testimony in my commitment to God in the name of Jesus Christ that is of measure.
Heck, I get rather confused.
Regardless, I am clear on the following:
• There is a God.
• I have sinned (actually, my life’s been quite a mess).
• Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and as God Himself, died to forgive us of our sins.
• I believe in Christ and have accepted Him into my heart and soul.
I dearly thank you so very much. Now I really have so much to learn and I look forward to my dialogue with Christ to assist me in my ways.
With Love and Prayers,
(The names have been changed)
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.