God - The Cosmic Kill-Joy
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10
The Bible is a book of rules and do's and don'ts I need to learn to be Godly. When I sit down in the morning to read my bible, the time period we call "devotions," it's a duty and an obligation I have as a Christian, and when I don't feel like getting up early to do it, I feel guilty. I need to learn the rules. I hate rules. As a matter of fact, I think God is the ultimate Cosmic Kill-Joy.
Not! Anyone who's read anything I've written knows that couldn't be farther from the truth. Many people, however, do believe that, and you might be one of them. I'd like to shout from the rooftops that you're missing the greatest opportunity for joy there is. Learn to love the Bible, and you'll learn to love the Lord. Learn to love the Lord, and you'll learn to love your life.
Imagine you're walking down a beautiful country lane, and there's a fabulous field of flowers next to you. All you want to do it go into that field, lay down in it, and enjoy the solitude and peace. Then you see a sign, and it say's "Do Not Go Into the Field! Land Mines from World War II!"
Would you say "Somebody's just trying to ruin my fun. Somebody's just trying to run my life and take away all my joy."? Of course not! You'd be thanking the person who cared enough about you to take the time to put the sign out. And you'd be thanking God for letting you see the sign before you set foot in the field, potentially blowing yourself to bits. You may even see the sign as an act of love.
When I first became a Christian, I saw the Bible as an interesting history book that had some pretty good precepts with which I should learn to live my life. I'd heard people refer to it as having been written by inspiration from God - the "Word of God" they called it - but I didn't know what that meant particularly, and I didn't particularly believe it anyway. I read it with interest, but not passion.
I decided to read the entire thing once before I started studying anything. I blasted through it in seven months. I was ravenous - not so much because I wanted to know what God wanted to say to me, but because I felt like I was playing catch-up. I was 47 years old at the time, and I didn't have a moment to lose.
I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but at some point about half-way through, I came to realize that THIS WAS THE WORD OF GOD!! There was NO WAY a bunch of gray-haired old guys, spread out over 1,500 years of time could have written this book. It's not 66 books at all. Somehow, it's one book with 66 parts. Only God could have done that. I didn't quite get it all yet, but I knew that was true.
So the transformation began. It was now a wonderful history book with life precepts written by God. Hmm. Progress, but not quite there...
Then I started to notice a pattern. These things really started to show up in my life. God talks about gossips, and I couldn't believe how many there were lurking around every corner. I even found myself getting sucked into it sometimes. I hated myself for it, and wanted to stop. We were hurting people. God was right about that. Gossip is bad.
God talks about "course jesting," and says not to do it. I realized that that was one of the primary forms of humor in some of my friends and family, and it was generally hurtful. God knew that and said not to do it.
I started to realize that a lot of what God said not to do hurt people if you did it. So, what about the other things? Why does he say those things?
I divided God's admonitions into two categories: 1) Don't do these because they're harmful, and 2) Do do these because they're really good for you.
I started to trust Him, and the Bible became a Guide-Book, rather than a rule-book. Huge difference. I was growing.
Then I noticed another pattern. There were promises and comforts. It started to sound like the kind of thing my best friend would tell me when I didn't feel good: Encouragements, words of love and affirmation. I was His child, friend, bride.
To the grief stricken: "God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'" (Heb. 13:5 NIV).
To the guilt ridden: "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1 NIV).
To the jobless: "In all things God works for the good of those who love him" (Rom. 8:28 NIV).
To those who feel beyond God's grace: "Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16 NIV).
(from Max Lucado's latest e-mail letter)
He LOVES ME! Wow! That really hit me! This is not a rule book, or even a guide-book. It's a LOVE LETTER written to help me (not just "us" notice - me!) know Him intimately, and to Live Life Abundantly! God is a lover. Jesus is my bride-groom. Unbelievable. When you're in love, what do you want to do with your lover? You want to be with them always. You relish their breath on your face and the touch of their fingertips on your arm. You think of them constantly. You can't get enough.
That's who Jesus is for us. He's our lover. When you understand that, you won't be able to get enough. The Bible becomes the window into the room where HE lives! You want to press your face against the window in the hope of getting a glimpse of Him. And then you realize: You can have Him sitting on the couch with you every morining. He'll walk with you all day. He'll caress you to sleep at night. He'll never leave you nor forsake you.
Then as I spent time in study with Him, He revealed to me that the Bible is a book with a single plot, and that plot is Jesus! From the first "In the Beginning God" to the last "Amen," every single word is about Jesus! Every story, every character, every precept and do and don't is about Jesus. The historical accounts and stories are just sub-plots. If you get caught up in them as individual events in and of themselves - or even as mere accounts of the history of Israel - you'll miss the true magic of the Bible. They're all about Him!! Every one! Unbelievable... (Listen or read some of Jon Courson's stuff on Searchlight, and you'll see what I mean).
The Bible exploded in it's power and passion for me. I became revenous. Every day was a treasure hunt. What's God got for me today?! I couldn't (and can't) wait.
My time in the morning is now the best part of my day. Just me and the Lord, communing, conversing, loving each other in the privacy of our thoughts together. Sharing secrets. Two lovers in a blessed moment of quiet togetherness. It's never long enough. It always ends too soon.
Learn to see Jesus in there. Learn to be hungry for who He is and to visit with Him there, not just to learn what He wants you to do. You'll learn to love your Bible and your devotion time. It'll transform from being an obligation to a delight, and eventually to a passion. It'll become your joy that spreads throughout your day and transforms your life because you love Him and "delight to do His will" (Psalm 40:8) - not because you have to follow the rules.
The Bible is a love letter by the Creator of the universe Who knows you and loves you and wants you to know and love Him back.
Relish it. Swim in it. Be loved through it in a way you could never have imagined, and watch Him change your heart.
May God's peace and joy wrap you in His love every morning,